In our previous case study, we’ve talked about why you should hire a VA to improve a process that already exists in your business. This week’s case study comes at the issue from a different angle. We’re going to show you how you can work with a virtual assistant to implement a customer experience program that will set you apart from the competition.
Here’s how Mallory Underwood helped her client stand out in a sea of creative agencies.
Everyone wants to feel fulfilled in their business, right? One of the main ways to do that is by having meaningful connections with your clients. In order to foster deep and lasting relationships, your clients must have exceptional customer experiences when they interact with your business.
But what exactly does “customer experience” mean?
Customer experience, or “CX” for short, is defined by the Harvard Business Review as “the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.” Basically, it is how customers perceive their experiences when interacting with your business.
If you are a company with clients, then you’re responsible for customer experience. Period. The only decision is whether you invest time and resources into trying to create an experience that surpasses your clients’ expectations … or if you let it simply be what it will be.
You should decide to do the former, and here’s why: According to the ‘Customers 2020’ study by Walker, a customer intelligence consulting firm, by 2020 customer service will be the key brand differentiator over price and product.
Simply put, customers will pay more for a product or service if they have a better experience working with one company over another.
The fun thing about hiring a virtual assistant is that you can focus on CX for your business without investing tons of your time to implement it. You can use the time you save to focus on creative projects, grow your business, or work on higher ROI tasks while still providing your customers with exceptional experiences.
Speaking of win-wins, Creative Quarterback is a virtual creative agency that quarterbacks marketing projects to save clients time, money, and sanity. They hired me to help create, implement, and execute their hospitality program.
I was thrilled because I love supporting entrepreneurs who have done the hard work to create a successful business and are now looking for a little support.
By implementing tactics in the two areas below, I have been able to save them 20 hours a month and improve their customer experience.
How a Virtual Assistant Helps with Client Hospitality
Creative Quarterback Owner, Nicole Ross, recognized from her time in the corporate world that many companies don’t have the time or energy to create an impactful hospitality program for their employees or clients. By committing to creating a full hospitality program for her business, Nicole knew she could stand out in the agency space, nurture client relationships, and encourage referrals.
Once I came on board as a virtual assistant in charge of customer experience, Nicole had the support she needed to kick off the program because she knew I could implement and run it for her.
The program consists of branded hospitality kits that can be sent to both team members and clients. We currently have seven different occasions we can send gifts for, including client onboarding, thank you, apology, new baby, and staff birthday to name a few.
Descriptions of the kits, along with quantities remaining, are visible to Nicole’s staff through a shared Google Sheet. When a member of the “Coaching Staff” would like to send a gift to a client or a freelancer, they request it on the sheet by providing the shipping details and a personal note, which also mentions who the gift should be from.
Once a week I put together any requests for kits. Each kit consists of a branded box, an item, and a matching notecard handwritten by me.
For the new client welcome gift, for example, the Creative Quarterback logo was printed on a glass football mug which is filled with organic candy. Once I assemble the gifts I also handle mailing them. I cover the cost of shipping and any supplies that need to be replenished, then I submit a reimbursement request.
VA Tip: Make sure to track your mileage when you ship the packages so you can add that to your personal business expenses!
These gifts are of exceptional quality. That is intentional since it is a sample of the type of products this company creates for their clients. Plus, it’s serving as a pilot to possibly sell a similar program to corporate customer service and human resources teams down the road.
But, what if you can’t afford to go all-out on custom gifts quite yet?
The fun thing about a customer hospitality program is that it can be as big or small as you like. Perhaps it is a bunch of branded notecards that are sent with handwritten notes, or maybe a gift card is stuck in from a pile you stock up on in advance.
There are also tons of online gifts to choose from or perhaps you have an idea of something your client would love that your virtual assistant can easily purchase.
The size and scope of the gift isn’t what matters; it is the thought behind it that counts.
How a Virtual Assistant Helps with Client Communications
The second area I have taken over has saved my client a considerable amount of time on the customer experience front.
For client communications, I’m serving in a dual role handling operations and customer service. This has proved beneficial as I have access to the information clients may inquire about.
I have taken over all of the client invoicing which comes with customer service responses to emails or phone calls relating to billing inquiries. I also handle the invoice creation and payments to the freelance team and fielding their questions.
“Sending invoices, paying team members, and managing systems may seem like no big deal… until you really think about how many clicks each task takes and how frequently they pull you out of ‘the creative zone’,” Nicole Ross shared. “Now that I’ve transitioned operational and customer service tasks to Mallory, I can’t imagine going back to doing it all myself.”
This type of customer service can be done for many other areas besides billing and invoicing, such as replying to voicemails, answering inbound website inquiries, or replying to questions and comments on social media platforms.
How a Virtual Assistant Can Take Over the Customer Experience Side of Your Business
There are a few keys to making this work.
First, make sure you provide your virtual assistant with the resources they will need to answer questions, and then make sure they feel empowered to respond.
Work with your VA initially, then at whatever pace both of you are comfortable with, she can take it over. After completing “Training Camp” (i.e. onboarding) with Creative Quarterback, one of the first tasks I tackled was implementing a password management system.
I researched and recommended LastPass Teams, and I went on to setup the entire secure credentials system for the company. This was a big step in ensuring I could easily, and securely, get access to information I needed to answer client inquiries.
Second, a best practice to follow is to set your VA up with an email address from your company domain. You should also have her set up an email signature that includes her title for the role she serves for you.
This may be Executive Assistant, Business Assistant, or Customer Service Rep for example. (I’m in charge of “Guest Services & Stadium Operations.”)
These two small steps show professionalism when your VA is emailing on your behalf.
As an important side note, if your VA will be making phone calls, make sure she thinks about time zones and when it is appropriate to call contacts back.
Ready to bring on your own VA and implement a customer experience program?
I’m currently supporting Creative Quarterback with five hours a week for now, but the great thing about working with a virtual assistant is that you can hire one for as many or as few hours a week as you need.
Plus, you can forget about PTO days, performance reviews, and health benefits since you’ll hire them as a freelance contract employee. By hiring a VA to help with client hospitality, think of all the time and energy you can save for other tasks—all while ensuring your client experience goes above and beyond!
To start with your own VA, check out Horkey Handbook’s Virtual Assistant Leads Finder.
Mallory is a wife, mommy to a little boy and girl, believer in the power of human connection, wine lover with wanderlust, and a virtual assistant. She spent 12 years working in the nonprofit sector before leaving to pursue Hartewood Professionals full-time and has a public relations major and a journalism minor to back up her experience. She was born and raised in Michigan, met her Canadian husband in Western Australia, has visited more countries than she has fingers, and has ventured across the U.S. and Canada before now residing in Phoenix. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.