06 Feb 15 Five reasons why I need a Virtual Research Assistant
Like most other businesses I face peaks and troughs in my work-cycle. In addition there are core and non-core responsibilities. Again like most business managers, I put in considerable effort in balancing my core and non-core work during the ups and downs of work pressure.
So one day I decided to put in a formal request to my supervisor for a virtual research assistant. To support my request I clearly outlined how a research assistant can help manage non-core yet necessary work. I am sharing my reasons here, for the benefit of anyone who wants to put in such a request to their management.
1. I do not know everything about my customers and their needs
My work requires me to interact with multiple customers across industries and sectors. It’s no secret that prior insights into customers’ business models and current needs are of tremendous help when meeting a new client. However, more often than not I end up in these meetings with only partial information, struggling to pick up remaining threads during the course of the conversation.
A research assistant can gather top-level or in-depth details, as required, about the customer and his industry. It will save us, business and sales managers, valuable time.
2. I am only partially aware about what my competitors are doing
Like any other business manager, I try to stay abreast with changes in my industry, competition and the business environment. However, my informal and inconsistent news monitoring efforts yield incomplete information. At times I have been caught off-guard with developments and trends impacting my business.
A research assistant responsible to regularly monitor my industry and competitors can aid in pre-empting any such change. Further a trained researcher can also conduct periodical in-depth competitor benchmarking studies.
3. I waste my time cleaning internal data
My work requires me to regularly monitor various parameters indicating my team and business performance. Given its criticality, I spend considerable hours analyzing data to derive relevant insights. If I can outsource dashboard generation and basic analysis, I can focus more on managing my processes and putting the requisite plans to action.
A research assistant can manage data collection, identify data gaps, contact relevant sources to fill those gaps and clean the errors. She can also do preliminary analysis using the dashboards she creates.
4. At times I miss critical customer feedback on social media
Like most businesses today, I have a presence in the digital world and the physical space for a wider reach to prospective customers. Though highly beneficial, this wide-scale presence at times becomes challenging to manage. More so as the digital world never sleeps.
A research assistant can manage regular activities and updates on various social media platforms. She can also monitor the messages, comments and complaints posted by customers across sites, and can help in sending out appropriate responses.
5. Relevant marketing content is my constant need but not core responsibility
Newsletters, brochures, blogs and presentations are considered the responsibilities of a marketing team. Yet inputs from operations, strategy and sales are equally significant as together they have the best understanding of the offerings.
A trained research assistant has the capability of putting together the required content, customized to any particular platform or need. Further, while business teams focus on their core activities, the research assistant can work on combining their inputs to create comprehensive marketing material.
VRA is not a person, it’s a package
Having written down the KRAs of my proposed research assistant, it was evident that getting all the requisite skills in one individual was difficult. Further, I did not need a dedicated resource for any of these activities, as the requirements usually came in spurts.
Given these constraints a Virtual Research Assistant seemed an ideal choice for me. Their on-demand, pay-per-use, periodical yet not continuous model of delivery gave me all the flexibility I could ever hope for. It gives me the flexibility of usage and of payments, making it a doubly attractive option.