COVID-19 lockdowns paralyzed businesses. With its impact trickling down across industries, the demand for virtual assistants (VAs) spiked. Outsourcing virtual assistants offshore rose by 41% from 2019 to 2020.
With the wage hikes caused by “The Great Resignation” and the high cost of running a business due to inflation, more companies are expected to hire virtual assistants offshore.
What is a virtual assistant?
Virtual assistants provide administrative, technical, or creative support to their clients remotely.
VAs free up time for business owners and managers by taking on recurring tasks and jobs that the company is not equipped to do. Hiring VAs can also help a company cut costs by up to 78% by eliminating overhead and training expenses.
What do virtual assistants do?
Think of VAs as an all-around pool of workers, each with a specialized skill. Many VAs can support you in business development, client relations, and other highly complex tasks.
If this is the only time that you consider employing a virtual assistant, you must know that the Philippines is one of the top outsourcing destinations for this position. The Asian country is among the early adopters of the service, and outsourcing companies have been providing VA services for decades now.
To help you learn more, we’re here to bust some myths about Filipino VAs that you might read in your research about these services.
Myth #1: Time difference makes supervising Filipino virtual assistants challenging.
Fact: Filipino VAs are flexible. They can work in your time zone or find a way around it. They deliver top-notch services regardless of the time difference.
While you are in the comfort of your bed at night, Filipino VAs are hard at work, crunching the numbers, churning content, booking appointments, and ticking off all the tasks you’ve laid out for them.
VAs typically don’t need micromanaging. It will only take something as simple as daily reports to sync with them. The moment you start your workday, rest assured that they’ve done everything that needs to be done.
If you need VAs that can work in your time zone, you also have the option to hire night-shift workers. This comes with advantages, such as quicker response time and task turnover.
With most of its clients from the Western hemisphere, working at night is considered normal in the Philippine BPO industry. A government study found that a third of all BPO employees work the evening or graveyard shifts.
The irregular hours don’t affect the quality of their work. The exponential growth rate of the Philippine outsourcing industry proves that companies across the globe have been reaping the benefits of Filipinos’ consistent world-class services since the industry first boomed in the early 2000s.
Myth #2: Language and cultural differences make collaborating with Filipino virtual assistants difficult.
Fact: With nearly two-thirds (58.2%) of its people able to speak English, the Philippines is regarded as one of the largest English-speaking countries. Since the Americans institutionalized the country’s education system in the late 19th century, English has been the primary language they use for teaching even today. In fact, English is considered their second language and children learn to speak it early.
The Philippines ranked 18th out of 112 countries on the latest EF English Proficiency Index. Because of this, many companies choose to outsource to the country.
If you’re concerned about cultural differences, know that the Filipinos are well immersed in Western culture. Aside from the media deluge of Western popular culture, their values are inherently based on a marriage of Eastern and Western influences.
While they have a distinct Asian background, modern Filipino values are also historically rooted in customs that came from their Spanish and American colonizers. Their rich culture allows Filipinos to work well with people of all races.
Filipinos are therefore known for their work ethic and their hospitality. That is why labor is considered one of the Philippines’ top exports. In every corner of the world, you can find a hardworking overseas Filipino worker (OFW). Due to their deep-rooted filial obligation, OFWs work like Trojans to send money home to their parents. You can expect the same dedication from your Filipino virtual assistant.
Myth #3: Hiring outsourced virtual assistants risks data security and privacy.
Fact: Data security breaches can happen across all industries. It can also occur in companies that do not outsource.
In this digital age, all companies that store data are vulnerable to breaches. In the first half of 2019 alone, 3,813 breaches affected more than 4.1 billion records. On average, 68 records are lost or stolen every second.
The size of the company doesn’t matter. Both small and big businesses, even government agencies, have fallen victim to data theft.
When looking for virtual assistant services, it all comes down to the outsourcing company you partner with. Are they a reputable business that enforces strict security rules, measures, and practices?
You and your service provider should agree on implementing and maintaining safety measures. Some service providers like to be in charge, but it’s best that your business also has some control.
Keep in mind that data privacy is a serious matter across different industries. To clear up any confusion, put things in black-and-white. You can opt to draft a contract that specifies legal obligations with your outsourcing company.
Fact: Businesses of all sizes can benefit from hiring Filipino virtual assistants. Small and medium enterprises save overhead and reduce payroll costs by outsourcing VA services overseas.
In this competitive market, small and medium-sized business owners are forced to work harder to stay ahead in the game. As more businesses are going online, running operations is becoming increasingly difficult.
For instance, when it comes to online marketing, especially on Google, the game’s rules often favor brand names. Small businesses need the expertise of Filipino VAs and outsourcing companies to rank on search engines and gain traction. Before the pandemic, over a third of small businesses were already outsourcing services.
All businesses indeed need capital to grow. But the gains of hiring VAs outweigh the costs. It can even help you cut down on expenses in the long run.
By embracing outsourcing and virtual assistant services, you can grow your business without blowing up your budget. This will also allow your in-house team to focus on more urgent tasks.
Everyone wins. You cut costs while building your team and getting more work done for every dollar you spend.
Myth #5: Virtual assistants can handle only basic administrative tasks.
Fact: While setting appointments, making travel arrangements, and managing calendars are typical tasks of virtual assistants, Filipino VAs also perform a wide range of specialized tasks.
The virtual assistant’s job description is already pretty exhaustive, but did you know that there are VAs with niche skills for even more specific tasks? Here are a few virtual assistant services that Filipino VAs can help you with.
These Filipino virtual assistants focus on numbers. Apart from bookkeeping, they also manage payments and invoicing and process orders and refunds. Some even make collection calls to stay on top of billing. Others focus on internal finances, like handling the payroll.
Filipino virtual assistants are artists in their own right. They specialize in content creation and design. They have got everything covered, from designing logos to creating presentations. Virtual assistant services can level up your online presence with appealing visual content guaranteed to boost your sales.
From pitching brands to promoting live events and product launches, some Filipino virtual assistants are experts in marketing. They dominate the social media sphere, taking charge of ad management, lead generation, and marketing campaigns.
Research gives you a competitive edge. But with your in-house team already focused on their tasks, who has the time?
Fortunately, virtual assistant services can help you find out whatever you need to know. Vendor research? Market research? Joint venture research? These virtual assistants will scour the internet for the latest and most relevant information available, then present it so that your team will understand.
Generally, Filipinos are a very educated people. Government data shows that the Philippine literacy rate is at 93.8%, among the highest in the world. Recent changes in the education system, which added two more years to primary education, have made Filipino workers even more globally competitive.
The Philippines is also among the top countries with the most active internet users. Filipinos held the top spot for six consecutive years from 2016 until 2021, outranked by South Africa just this year. Being educated and constantly exposed to the internet means that Filipino VAs can quickly pick up new skills, making them an excellent choice for highly specialized jobs.
Myth #6: AI-powered virtual assistants are cheaper and more efficient than human VAs.
Fact: Companies use Robotic Process Automation (or RPA, an artificial intelligence software program that can perform systematized tasks) to automate some repetitive tasks with complex data. While this can be effective in some cases, these bots are helpless outside of the functions programmed into their software.
Human VAs have a distinct edge over bots. While AI VAs cannot work in a team, people can.
Synergy is crucial in all workplaces. AI VAs can automate tasks, but your company loses the synergy of working together without human interaction. On the other hand, non-AI VAs can check in on your employees, adding a human touch to your management.
Teamwork is the Filipinos’ strength. The main reason for outsourcing’s success in the Philippines is its people.
Respect is a huge part of Filipino culture, and it shows in how they talk. Their national language has unique words (“po” and “opo” for yes) that signify respect to elders and superiors.
When addressing older people, Filipinos call women “Ate” or “Manang” (big sister) and men “Kuya” or “Manong” (big brother). Filipinos call the people-in-charge sir or ma’am in the workplace instead of their first names.
“Bayanihan” is a part of the Filipino culture that shows their compassion and willingness to help. This attitude is apparent in how Filipino customer service agents deal with their customers. Remember: Studies have shown that consumers strongly prefer live representatives over bots regarding customer service.
Myth #7: Virtual assistants can do everything.
Fact: While VAs have expansive skill sets, they cannot do everything.
Not even the best virtual assistants can run your whole office. There isn’t a single person on the planet with all the skills your business needs. As professionals, we all have our fields of expertise.
Planning remains vital when it comes to hiring VAs. First, find the weak points in your operations. Do you need help with marketing or maybe administrative duties? Then list down the specific tasks you want a VA to handle.
Choose the right outsourcing company that fits your needs. Your partner will find VAs with the ideal skill sets you require. They will help you simplify the process by sourcing the perfect candidate for you. They will also take charge of training and onboarding the recruited VAs based on your company’s hiring standards.
How SuperStaff Simplifies Finding Quality Virtual Assistants for Clients
Hiring VAs through a reputable BPO has a lot of invaluable benefits, particularly for those looking to hire at the enterprise level.
At SuperStaff, we listen to your needs and trust your judgment. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach because we understand that each client has their way of doing business.
If you work with us, we will help you identify your needs, set your goals, and set a scope of work that will align with your targets. We will help you choose the best candidate from our pool of quality talents. SuperStaff will also train them so that your VA is in-sync with your team. We will continue to track their progress to ensure that your business runs like a well-oiled machine.
With over a decade of outsourcing and offshoring success, SuperStaff has established a business model guaranteed to grow our clients’ business. When you partner with us, you gain access to our pool of superior talent, premium facilities, and the latest software in the industry.
Contact us to learn more about our back-office solutions.