Wednesday, March 3, 2010

5 Services Virtual Assistants Should Offer But Don't...

The art of doing business on the Internet has come a long way. Businesses large and small are doing more online, they are demanding more useful, exciting websites. There's simply a lot more riding on today's business websites than a collection of text and images. With that comes the increasing need for technically savvy help to manage it all and a smart, forward thinking VA should be sharpening her skills and offering services like these:

Backup – Far too often have I saved myself (and the clients), from hours of work putting things back as they were. You cannot rely on a web host all the time. To save space, web hosts only store backups for a very short period of time. And because restoration is not always part of their service, a host will usually restore the entire site when you may only need to restore one folder. Besides, some hosts are here today gone tomorrow. Or your client may have got tired of them.

Offering a backup and restoration service to your clients makes so much sense and it is often quite profitable for you since you don't have to restore sites everyday nor every month for that matter. Backups can be put on autopilot and you can charge a recurring fee.

Software Update – So many web sites today run on open source software like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. These are actively developed systems that move forward regularly and sometimes at a quick pace too. Every time you turn around it seems like the software needs to be updated.

Many clients don't bother to update because they may be afraid of the consequences or just don't know how. In the end, they either become victims of hackers or find themselves unable to proceed with their latest program because the software is outdated.

WordPress Hardening – Talking about open source software, WordPress is one of the hottest. There's a great chance at least one of your clients are using to manage their website. But a popular software also means it is a big fat target for hackers who test it daily. Unfortunately, during setup, many designers and even VA's do not take the time to secure it. Much of the default settings remain which make it easy for anyone to exploit.

We're not talking about making a security guarantee to your clients – no software is that iron clad, but there are things that one can do to make WordPress more resistant. Sell that to your clients. This is a great way to earn extra from existing clients and bring in some money when things are slow.

Operating Procedure Wiki – You might already have heard of it. Create systems. Reproducible steps that anyone in the organization can take and run with. It make sense. Systems make your work faster – even if you already know it like the back of your hand, having checklists on hand can help remind you of steps you may miss regularly. Also, training new help becomes easier.

Many clients know this but are just way too busy. What you can do is not only document the knowledge, but set up a search-able, easy to use archive like a Wiki. In the long run it will help you too since you are likely to have more than one client, you may not remember all the steps you have to complete on a task that is not often repeat.

Enhanced Help Desk – You could already be the 'voice' behind your clients' help desk right now. That's great! If you enjoy it and want to win more clients in that area, why not offer an enhanced help desk service? What is that?

Some clients have multiple points of contact that can slow the customer service process down or cause confusion for customers because it may not be clear where to get help. The best thing is to pull everything together into one help center where people can find answers to frequently asked questions and initiate contact. It takes some planning and a bit of email routing and you can be the one to pull this together for your clients.

Take it a step further. Host the help desk software yourself for 'free' as part of the contract with your client. Many clients do not want yet another software for them to maintain. If the software can be part of your agreement, it absolutely makes sense for them. And, they would probably stay longer because if they break the contract with you, that means they have to source and purchase the software and setup. All of which takes time and money – valuable resources that the client may prefer to save.

What do you think? Is there any service here that you can implement right away? Maybe you want to but do not know how to start. After all, these are somewhat technical and you may not consider yourself technically inclined. There's good news. Tech stuff is a lot easier than most make it out to be. You just need the right type of help, like what you can expect over at Try it.

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