So I promised we would pop a few takeaway thoughts up online for those of you who were unable to make it along to #VACollab16 – oh but what fun you missed! A really fantastic day organised by Angela Dawson and Nicola Burt Skinner, I cannot recommend highly enough for newbie virtual assistants and old hands alike – I’ve got a stack of actions and ideas to use in my own VA business from it, so I’ve got a busy week ahead!
Why are ethics important in the Virtual Assistant world?
As VAs, our clients trust us with their businesses. That is not only a personal position of trust (rather like giving your newborn baby to someone to hold!) but it’s also a professional trust which comes with liabilities and monetary implications.
We are charging for our services, therefore we are professionals and should be held to the same sort of standards as your accountant, your lawyer, your doctor etc.
Rogue VAs in the industry affect us all – because a bad story travels 10 times as fast as a good experience, and that affects me and you – every time you speak to a client and mention the word “Virtual Assistant”.
And when I use the term “rogue VA” – I’m not talking about someone who has set out to do wrong. Usually they have had a series of difficult situations which have meant that they have fallen short of what we would expect of a professional. Their house was flooded, their computer died, a client placed unreasonable expectations on them, they simply did not know how to deal with a situation… Or it could just be as simple as underselling yourself and undercutting the market with an unsustainable fee – that client is forever ruined because they expect to have 24:7 service for £7.50 an hour and you can’t afford to continue in business charging those rates.
That’s why SVA is in existence – to help VAs avoid the pitfalls which they encounter along the way. To act as a guide, a standard to follow. Before the creation of SVA back in 2005, there were no professional standards. And when we instigated them, we had a backlash of lots of VAs saying they were unreasonable and what right did we have to blackball people for not following them? I got a lot of personal stick – and I still do, when I’m asked to investigate problems between VAs and clients.
The Basic Premise of Virtual Assistant Ethics:
Do what you say you will – only accept tasks which you can competently and confidently complete within the deadline given. If you haven’t done a task before, tell the client that and let them decide whether or not to take the risk.
Secure – off site data back up, know your Data Protection liabilities, use secure email – not Gmail/BT/yahoo etc. as mistyping this can divert to a completely different business.
Professional – use proper business licences for software, charge a professional fee, act professionally when dealing with clients.
- Only take on tasks which you are fully capable of completing.
- Respond to client enquiries via email and phone by next working day.
- Proper website inc mailing contact address on the website (a requirement for all UK traders), cookie statement, T&Cs, contacts.
- A domain specific email address (no gmail/btinternet etc.) e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Offsite data back up
- Anti-virus software – desktop, tablet, phone
- Data protection registration – understand it!!!
- Check licences for software that you use
- Use contracts – for clients and subcontractors. Make sure they are suitable for UK use.
BOOKING NOW OPEN FOR 2017 – If you missed out this year, make sure you have your space reserved next time, early bird is £45!