Do you feel overwhelmed with all the things you need to do to keep your eCommerce business running smoothly?
Hiring a virtual assistant can help ease the workload and give you breathing room to focus on your high-value tasks. Your administrative assistant can help you manage customer service, social media requests, and data entry. They can also help generate and nurture leads for your eCommerce website, track expenses, prepare business analytics reports, and perform other administrative tasks.
Don’t know how to hire a virtual assistant for your eCommerce business? Read on to learn six tips:
1. List the tasks you want to delegate
Before you hire a virtual assistant, you need to know the tasks you need help with. This can help you streamline your virtual assistant options. Remember, different virtual assistants have different skills. Some may be more skilled in answering phones, and data entry, while others are savvier with social media and preparing reports.
Make a list of the tasks you usually perform when running your eCommerce business. Then classify them into any of these categories:
High-value tasks are the tasks that should stay with you. You shouldn’t delegate them because they determine how profitable your business will be. An example of a high-value task is product innovation and ideation.
Low-value tasks are typically routine and do not require any form of collaboration. They include calendar management and updating eCommerce product listings.
Menial tasks are tasks you spend more time on than you should. These may include answering phone calls, data entry and fiddling around with a featured image on your site.
Once you have a clear list of tasks, check your low-value and menial tasks. These are the tasks you can assign to a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant will help you fill your calendar with more high-value tasks, which is the quickest way to increase your sales and revenue.
That leads us to the next tip on how to hire a virtual assistant.
2. Craft a job description
When hiring a virtual assistant, writing a good job description is crucial. It will ensure you only interview candidates who meet your specific criteria, saving you plenty of time during the hiring process.
Here are some things to include in your job description:
- The specific tasks you need help with
- The qualifications and experience level you're looking for
- The number of hours per week you’d need them to work
- Salary. For instance, the average VA salary in the UK is £15.38/hour
- Language requirements
- Location (in case you want your virtual staff to be located in a specific country)
The more detailed your job description, the better. Notice in the example below that there’s a breakdown of the tasks the new hire is expected to perform:
Regardless of your criteria, when developing your job description, write in plain language so candidates can easily understand what you’re looking for. Remember, you want your VA job description to attract the right applicants. Also, if you’re a pretty well-known brand, always include your logo design in your job posts to garner the most attention.
3. Post your job vacancy online
With your job description ready, it's time to look for the right candidates online. You could post your job description on social media, but if you decide to go this route, make sure you don’t just pick the platform that comes to mind. Consider the platforms virtual assistants are more likely to be on. On LinkedIn, for instance, if you search for “virtual assistants,” you get this many results:
That means it’s an excellent platform to post your job announcement. But social media isn’t the only platform you can leverage. Although social media has great reach, there's no guarantee the people who will respond to your job post have the right qualifications.
To make the most of your time, then, announce your offer on specific platforms for VAs, too. These platforms typically pre-vet job applicants. That means they interview applicants first, then allow only the most qualified based on skills and attitude on those platforms.
In other words, if you announce your job vacancy here, you gain access to the best people from the start. Just to give you an idea of how much filtering of candidates is done, some platforms only allow 1% of the people who open an account with them to stay on.
These specialized platforms can also match pre-vetted candidates with the copy in your job description and the expertise level you prefer. You can then receive offers as early as 24 hours.
4. Review applications & schedule interviews
When reviewing the applications, consider the candidate's experience, qualifications, rates, and previous clients’ testimonials. In some instances, a quick search of the applicant’s name can yield a lot of information.
But if you can’t find anything, you can check out the applicant’s social media accounts or website. You can also look at their profile on the platform where you posted your job vacancy announcement.
Of course, you shouldn’t just rely on what your applicants wrote in their profiles. Once you’ve chosen the applicants to move forward with, you still need to schedule an interview. A one-to-one live video call will help you see the applicant’s verbal cues.
During the screening process, ask about the following:
- Qualifications: Your questions should depend on the types of tasks you’d want the virtual assistant to perform. So, if you want them to answer customer queries, you might want to ask them if they know how to operate live chat software, to name a few.
- Availability: Ask them when they can start work if they pass the screening process.
- References: Ask the names of the people who can vouch for their work.
From the interview process, you should be able to assess whether an applicant can move on to the next phase. Check their oral communication and comprehension skills, too. Remember, your VA will have to understand your instructions for them to work as expected. They’d have to report to you, too, and they can’t do that if they can’t communicate well.
5. Create a test
You’d need to go back to the list of tasks you plan to assign to your virtual assistant to create the perfect test for potential hires. After all, you want to assess whether or not an individual can perform these tasks in the first place. It doesn’t make sense to test someone's social media marketing skills if your plan is to make them write emails if they’re hired.
The best way to assess a potential hire’s suitability for a virtual assistant post is to give them a skills test. So, if you plan on hiring a VA for your product description writing tasks, for example, you could ask them to write product descriptions.
Give candidates ample time to complete the task. It’s best if the time you give them is the same time they’d have to complete that same task if hired. This can give you an accurate picture of how long they’d work on the task should you decide to employ them.
You can also ask them situational questions so you can get a glimpse into their decision-making skills.
Once your applicants have completed your tests, assess their replies based on your criteria. Make sure you weed out candidates who don’t submit their answered tests on time. You don't want to hire anyone who doesn't stick to deadlines.
6. Give a trial period
Once you've found the right candidate, you still need to give them a trial period. You want to see how they’d perform in real life. A trial period can last anywhere from two weeks to one month.
However, before the trial period starts, orient your new hire on organizational values and goals.
Also, send them a copy of their responsibilities and the specific results you expect to see. If they’re handling customer service, these should include customer touchpoints. If they’re writing social media posts, including the language tone you expect.
It’s best to have these on paper so you both have set criteria for what constitutes good work. So, if you decide against long-term employment, you can lay down the expectations they weren’t able to meet.
If your candidate passes your requirements, move forward with long-term employment. If you decide to part ways, continue your search for the right candidate.
BONUS: Provide new hire necessary tools
So, you’ve hired a virtual assistant full-time. Congratulations! But your job doesn’t end there. If you want your new employee to succeed in their role, you need to provide them with the tools they need to do just that. Don’t expect them to do everything. If you can ease their workload, do so.
One such tool you can use is an ecommerce chatbot. An ecommerce chatbot helps address your site visitors’ basic queries, so your VA can concentrate on other aspects of your business. This, in turn, leads to better business results.
Check out what happened when Suomalainen Kirjakauppa, a Finnish bookshop, deployed a chatbot for use on its online store. Chatbot use increased by 26% in the first three months. So, in the end, the company’s human team was able to provide more efficient customer support.
Don’t worry because you don’t need to know the code to create your chatbot. With giosg’s bot builder, for example, you can easily create and customize one without involving your tech team.
You can even optimize your chat flows with A/B testing.
There are other tools you can give your new VA to help them perform better.
For instance, you can give them product descriptions or customer support email templates if they’re writing these. This way, they don’t have to waste time thinking about how they should structure their write-ups. You can also give them access to design software. This can make it easier for them to produce high-quality images for your eCommerce site.
As an eCommerce business owner, your time is valuable. You can't afford to waste it on tasks that you can easily outsource to a virtual assistant. Knowing how to hire a virtual assistant is key.
Just list the tasks you need to delegate, craft a job description, and post it online. Then review applications and interview those you initially deem fit for the role. Create a test to filter your applicant pool and choose the right candidate. Finally, offer them a trial period and decide based on actual performance.
Remember, finding the right person for the job might take some time. But with these steps, you can hire a VA that can take your eCommerce business to the next level.
Mackenzie Lepretre is currently the Director of Operations at FreeUp Marketplace, a top-rated marketplace for businesses to find and connect with the best remote professionals. She has worked with freelancers and run freelance teams for 5+ years.