Business, Productivity, Technology

How to outsource email to a virtual assistant.

How to outsource email to a virtual assistant.

When you’re running a business you can spend up to 4 hours a day on emails. Messages can range from time consuming distractions to more important things like requests for information. It’s so much more productive to outsource email management to a virtual assistant so you can get on with the more lucrative aspects of your business.

Grant Access

The first thing I’d suggest is setting up remote access for your virtual assistant. They then have their own password to access your emails which helps with accountability and means you can’t be locked out of your own emails by accident.

Categorise Emails

Next I would discuss with the virtual assistant what is in there! Start by making lists of senders and categorise them according to who will deal with what. The categories could be

  • senders the virtual assistant can reply to as the virtual assistant
  • senders the virtual assistant can reply to as the business owner
  • senders the owner must reply to personally
  • emails to be filed/deleted

Make Rules

To help with this I would set up some ‘if this, then that’ rules. These will outline the actions to be taken in certain circumstances. For example ‘if a spam email comes in, then delete’. The rules will be different for every business and may change as the business grows and evolves.

Decide Format

Throughout the process discussion is key. The virtual assistant needs to know the types of reply you want sent. For example if somebody asks for information about a product or service what should the format be? The best way to help the virtual assistant with this is to show them how you have replied in the past. They’ll then be able to formulate a template to use in future communications with customers.

Communicate Regularly

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, I would set aside regular times for briefings. This may well be daily to begin with but will decrease as you get used to working with each other. Use these times to decide which emails each of you will deal with and find out what has been dealt with and how.

If you think this all sounds like a lot to set up all at once don’t panic! You don’t have to hand it all over in one go. Start by getting the virtual assistant to take over just a couple of types of email eg newsletters and one regular sender, then after a while you can add more. It all takes a bit of work to get up and running but the value gained in the long term will be well worth the effort.