Do you feel like you’re a slave to your email inbox?
Perhaps its time to hand over your email management to a virtual assistant? The idea of having someone else take control of your email inbox might seem a little daunting at first, but in reality, it can streamline processes and give you back hours of time that you are no longer spending answering day to day questions.
We’ve put together our top tips based on going through this process with our clients to make handover smoother.
Choose your email system carefully
Create an Email Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
If you don’t currently have a Standard Operating Procedure, we can help you put this together. This document will be your virtual assistant’s first point of contact for answers to any recurring questions before coming to you for answers.
This document should contain information including:
- How to answer the most common questions that arrive in your inbox
- What to do with certain times of emails
- Your filing system, etc.
Set your requirements
Have a think about how often you want your emails checked and what else is important to you when managing your email inbox.
- Can emails be replied to once a day or do you need more or less frequency?
- If the answer to the email isn’t in your SOP, how would you like that dealt with? How
- What kind of turnaround time fits well for your business?
Setting these requirements means both you and your virtual assistant are on the same page. Whether emails are going to be checked daily or your turnaround expectation is 48 hours, you may want to set an automatic email reply stating this so your customers/clients have the same expectations.
Give your virtual assistant access
You will need to share your username and password for your email system with your virtual assistant. We recommend using a password protector like LastPass. Giving them access to your file storage system (e.g. Google Drive or Dropbox) may be beneficial too in case there are documents that need to be sent out via email.
Introduce your virtual assistant to the team
If you have other staff that will be liaising with your virtual assistant via email, introduce them (virtually) so the everyone understands who each other is and what their role is, as well as allowing your virtual assistant to learn who’s who in the business in case they need to refer questions elsewhere.
Spend time getting it right
Over the first few weeks, you will want to spend time training your virtual assistant. Be patient and answer all their questions so they can ensure they’re getting it right for you. Ask your virtual assistant to document the answers to any questions that come up in the Standard Operating Procedure too. In those first few weeks check the emails too – either get your virtual assistant to save drafts for your review prior to sending, or jump into the email inbox and check sent emails every couple of days. Don’t forget to give constructive feedback so your virtual assistant can learn and adapt to your needs.
Keep your virtual assistant in the loop
Treat your virtual assistant as one of your staff members and keep them updated on what is going on so they have the information to pass on to clients and customers. If you have a team meeting, send an email newsletter, update your website, set dates for events or deadlines, run specials, etc., ensure your virtual assistant is kept up to speed so they know the best way to respond to any enquiries.
Set up your own private email
We recommend you set up another email address for your use personally, but don’t share it with many people (otherwise you’ll potentially undo all your good work outsourcing your email management). This is where people who need to contact you directly can get hold of you. If your virtual assistant has an email they don’t know how to answer, they may forward it to you to get your response. Having your own email will reduce the temptation to log in and check the outsourced email inbox too.
Reduce email subscriptions
Ask your virtual assistant to unsubscribe to all email subscriptions and only re-subscribe to the ones you see real value in via your private email. This way they are going to you directly but aren’t taking up your precious time!
Once the training is complete, resist the temptation to check the outsourced email account. Your virtual assistant has got it under control and will let you know if something needs your attention. You may wish to review it monthly to check you’re happy with how things are going and provide ongoing feedback.
With your email management outsourced and taken care of by someone else, you get to do something more productive with the time you’ve freed up. Take the win and go celebrate.
Have you outsourced your email management?
If not, what are you waiting for? Imagine all of the additional tasks you can get done in your business if you’re no longer a slave to your email inbox. Keen to have a chat about how we can help?