Are You Fun To Work With?
Recently I was at Target shopping. It wasn’t for holiday gifts, simply necessities for the house. The first thing I noticed when I turned the corner was the extremely long line that went all the way down the walkway and wrapped around the corner.
Since I wasn’t in any hurry I went ahead and picked up my items. With it being just days before Christmas I imagined that every store would be as busy. Once I got into line I could see it was moving fairly quickly. However, no one else could tell.
Customers were having one person wait in line while the other person picked up the items they came for. Others took one look at the long line that went well beyond the ropes and walked straight out the store. A few people even abandoned their items on the floor after standing in line for several minutes.
What I found fascinating is that with so many people lined up, Target didn’t see this as an opportunity to make a captive audience out of us. Nor did the idea of making our time in line fun. This would have been an ideal moment to watch a demonstration or have free samples passed through the line. Maybe they are trying to push online sales because I imagine that’s how these same customers will be purchasing next year when they think back to this experience.
The most disturbing thing I found about the whole process is when I got to see the light of day and checkers a few feet away from me there was a sign. It stated the line forms here and this new process was to make it easier on the checkout clerks. Wow, really? As a company driven by consumer sales, shouldn’t their job have been to make the season bright by offering their customers the opportunity to have fun while shopping? Wouldn’t helping their customers have fun also create a fun experience for their employees?
Did you know International Fun At Work Day is January 27th this year? It is celebrated the last Friday in January each year. In an article by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher, Why Fun At Work Matters, they make the case “if people are having fun, they’re going to work harder, stay longer, maintain their composure in a crisis and take better care of the organization”.
What does this mean if you’re a virtual assistant? Does it matter if anyone is having fun? We don’t have bosses. We have clients. We don’t work in a typical office setting. We work wherever we want. However, I want you to challenge your thinking and see it from the client’s point of view.
To clients, they are your boss and they are right to feel that way because they are paying you. If your services are not what they want they can fire you. Your clients don’t imagine where you are when you work. They only imagine you are working somewhere in a professional environment and diligently on projects that pertain to them.
How does having fun play into this scenario? Think of your competition. It could be another virtual assistant. Realistically, it’s not. Your real competition is artificial intelligence and applications.
Developers, engineers, behavioral scientists and analysts are constantly working not only to create a system or application that works around the clock, is low cost, effective, efficient, detects patterns, but is also fun. They are gaming the industry in order to make users want to use what they have built. Forget about addiction to devices. The users are having fun.
What do we know about having fun at work? As Gostick and Christopher explain, “if people are having fun, they’re going to work harder, stay longer, maintain their composure in a crisis and take better care of the organization”. This translates into a working, functioning, fun to use system for your potential client. Why would someone give that up to work with a virtual assistant that does not offer the same?
While, as VAs, we have been addressing the issues surrounding our field and distinguishing the difference between virtual assistants and so-called virtual assistance through artificial intelligence we haven’t yet scratched the surface on how we can be fun to work with. So much fun that our clients want to work with us and crave the same feedback as they do from AI and apps. Where do we start?
First, know your clients. What is it that makes them happy? Where do they seek out fun and spontaneity? Here’s where we have the advantage. It doesn’t have to be work related. If you’re friends on Facebook you can congratulate them in a variety of different ways and support them through the causes they care about. Connected on LinkedIn you can like and share their articles, leave a comment, or offer introductions to someone in your network they would like to meet. Whatever social media platform they are using find a way to ping them in the same way. It will be much more powerful to see your name associated with a like, share, or comment than an app.
Be proactive and watch for behaviors. Artificial intelligence and apps can predict based on other similar users and patterns once the person has started using the application. You have the benefit of seeking out human behavior and life instances that an app cannot predict.
For instance, if a project is running behind you can encourage your client all along the way. A thoughtful presence in a chaotic world makes a huge difference. Laughter goes a long way. Making your client laugh is something you can do that offers enormous impact. Having fun lightens the mood and allows a different perspective.
Another advantage you have as a virtual assistant is knowing when to back off. There are times when delays need to happen, deadlines need to be pushed back, and your client needs some time alone or even away from work. Instead of being the app that doesn’t know and keeps pinging regardless of circumstance you can provide your client not only support when needed but room to breathe.
Lastly, do you remind your clients that work is fun? Even when you love what you are doing they are deadlines, frustrations, and problems to work through. Life happens. What do you or can you provide to send gentle reminders? On the worst day, I bet they are still happier to work for themselves than for somebody else. It’s your job to set the tone during the challenging times as well.
Give yourself and your clients the edge and benefit of having fun while working. Think of ways to game your services. Get creative. If having fun benefits your clients it benefits you.