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what is a virtual assistant and how can it help your business?

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Virtual assistant is one of the emerging professions with the brightest future. Having a virtual assistant is something that more and more entrepreneurs, freelancers or SME owners are choosing, because they offer benefits that you too can and should take advantage of. In addition, confinement has meant an acceleration of the digitalisation of companies. The job of virtual assistant is one of the most in-demand nowadays.

what is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant is a software-like agent that can perform tasks or offer services to an individual. In other words, they are in charge of supporting customers on administrative and/or technical queries made via telephone or through an online chatbot that will help you improve the user experience.

These tasks or services are based on user input data, location recognition and the ability to access information from a variety of online resources. The main feature of this software is its willingness to understand and respond to human language, and it can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as long as it is connected to the Internet.

We use virtual assistants for things like reminding us of appointments or tasks we might forget, listening to music, reading the news, or simply as an alarm. Not overly complicated tasks.

When the assistant's functions are carried out by a physical person, it is normally an external person who has been hired to perform certain administrative functions as if they were one of the company's employees. This is why this profession is linked to the term freelancer.

However, in the case of robot assistants, they can be configured and programmed to answer customer queries as if they were a human, rather than a machine. They perform this function thanks, above all, to their voice recognition and their ability to carry out two-way transcriptions, but we will get into the functions they possess later on.

how can a virtual assistant help your business?

Think of a virtual assistant as a tool that, like the rest of the tools you already have, can be customised and adapted to your business model. First and foremost, this tool will help you save time and money.

In addition to these important savings and its basic functions that allow you to perform in an automated way all those functions that you find tedious and unproductive, it also improves the image of the company in front of customers and can help you with tasks such as: read your email, find an address somewhere, make any kind of mathematical calculation, tell you how the weather will be, make a call, read your whatsApp messages, remind you of appointments and meetings, open applications on your mobile, play music, turn on or off smart lights, plugs, TV, bluetooth speakers, take notes, among many other things.

To work with a virtual assistant within your business strategy, you can coordinate via phone, email and task management tools such as Asana or Trello, which allow you to assign tasks, monitor progress and organise everything by projects if you need to.

Similarly, you can implement a CRM (customer relationship management) tool such as Hubspot, Salesforce, Zoho, among others, to centralise the management of contacts, business opportunities and sales closures.

To offer a good service to customers and keep them satisfied by creating a positive experience, virtual assistants are connected to the CRM and/or ERP of the company through the Web Service. The Web Service connects the CRM and/or ERP of the company with the virtual assistant through standardised protocols. This connection allows the telephone advisor to access updated information from customer databases.

If you want to learn how Hubspot CRMworks , click here.

Examples of virtual assistants

There are currently many public and private companies, public bodies (county councils, town councils, etc.), hospitals and private clinics that already have this service and are 100% satisfied. Mainly because the telephone advisor is able to respond to customers with the same efficiency and quality as human staff. Let's look at the examples.

  • A public body
    • The customer calls the organisation he wants to contact to make an enquiry to a specific department.
    • A virtual assistant takes the call and, using DTMF dialling, provides the customer with all possible options to find out which call queue to redirect them to.
    • Once the customer has selected the desired option, the attendant will redirect the call to the agent who is unoccupied in that department.
  • In a hospital
    • The customer calls the hospital where he/she wants to make an appointment to be seen by a specialist.
    • The attendant will answer the customer and, using DTMF dialling, will ask the customer what he/she wants.
    • Once the customer has selected an option, the attendant provides, via DTMF dialling, all possible options.
    • Once the customer has selected the speciality he/she would like to be seen for, the assistant will access the hospital's CRM and/or ERP to see which days and times are available.
    • When they have confirmed that they want the appointment, the assistant will ask for their telephone number or email to send them confirmation of the appointment.

There are several ways to activate and set up a virtual assistant, depending on the type of device you are using. It can be difficult to get used to this type of technological tool, but once you do, it is incredibly useful.

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