There’s no denying that technology has made running a business more streamlined and automated. This allows you, the business owner, to save time and money on everything from non-essential data processing to overhead expenses. One of the most efficient ways to take care of the day to day core functions of your business, like call center assistance and help desk support, is through contracting virtual office services from a dependable service provider.
How Virtual Assistants Work
Virtual assistants give you a large workforce that’s at your disposal on your schedule. The rates for a virtual assistant vary from company to company, and most providers have customizable packages to help ensure that you’re only paying for the services you need. A good, part-time VA may run you about $250 – $300 a month, while full-time service is about double that amount. There are also freelancers who charge anywhere from $15 – $30 per hour.
Contraction service from a web-based company is probably the most cost-effective way to go, and you’ll have help on demand 24/7 in most cases. Some of the duties a VA can fulfill include:
– Order tracking
– Handling credit card transactions
– Providing call-backs
– Contacting vendors
– Checking voice mail
– Managing email
Outsourcing automated services is great when you’re just starting out and you need to keep your expenses down without losing productivity. However, sometimes it’s nice to have a little helper right there in the office with you. Dr. Cynthia Breazeal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has come up with a whimsical solution for those who need a hands-on assistant.
There’s a New PA in Town
Dr. Breazeal is an associate professor, founder and director of the Personal Robotics lab at the MIT Media Lab, and she’s created a robotic assistant named Jibo who can blend in as part of the family or as an invaluable resource in the office. At just under a foot tall and weighing in at six pounds, Jibo is small enough to sit on a desktop or table, and it will be ready to hit the market by the end of this year.
Dr. Breazeal describes Jibo as the ultimate mobile device; it’s able to respond verbally to commands and develop an intuitive knowledge of the people it interacts with, including the ability to learn who people are via face and voice recognition technology. Other capabilities include:
– taking photos, video and audio recordings
– storing memos and providing reminders
– connecting to and controlling interior lighting and security systems
The creator considers Jibo as the next logical step: a bridge between smart phones and computers that can interact spontaneously and in a more meaningful way. As this technology progresses, personal robots will become fully integrated with all of your automated systems in the home or office.
Whether you’re interested in virtual office help or you really want to get futuristic and get an automated PA who interacts with you, you can be sure that technological advances will continue to evolve in a way that leaves you with more time for business building and leisure activities without sacrificing productivity.