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Dealing with an underperforming VA

I’ll tell you straight off the bat – I don’t have the answer. But I hope one or some of my readers do.

You hire a VA to accomplish specific tasks that you have set out in a document and discussed on the phone. Then they don’t deliver – they make excuses – everything else in their business seems to be a priority but the work they have accepted payment to accomplish for you; when they do deliver it is riddled with mistakes. You tell them how you feel, they admit they are not performing well and then nothing changes. What can you do ? Fire them yes, but they have almost 1000 of your hard-earned dollars. At the same time you are spending as much time chasing and cajoling as if you had done the work yourself almost 8 weeks ago (their deadline was six weeks ago !!!).

With 3 000 friends on Facebook and access to thousands of others via my groups as well as hundreds of followers on Twitter, I could potentially crucify the person and their business in an instant were I to choose to do so. And here is another point – I know of other people who have had the same issues with this person and their team but have kept quiet rather than going public because if any of us did ….. we risk being seen as not nice and lose potential clients and partners.

Feels like a lose whatever you do situation.

Does anyone have any similar experiences ? any helpful suggestions ?

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Amanda Carlin February 20, 2010, 5:29 am

    Hi Gillian, I hope you are well and I love your website, especially your blog!

    This issue is a tough call and very difficult to handle. It appears from your blog there was an agreed service level agreement (SLA) implemented before the VA was instructed because you state the VA had exceeded deadline. My thought is as SME’s if a VA or their team break their SLAs it is now time, especially in this economic climate to take action and do so with the power of the SLA. All SLAs should have a financial penalty included for the supplier if they do not reach their target or equally if they do not finish to an adequate and satisfactory standard.
    Likewise suppliers of services and products need to learn the art of effective Customer Service. Your issues, problems or inadequacies as a supplier are not the issues, problems or inadequacies of your client so don’t put them onto their shoulders. If you accept the work, if you accept a down payment and you have agreed a SLA then stick to it! If you cannot for whatever reason, be polite, let your client know and let them know within good time. Offer to return the down payment so your client can make alternative arrangements if they need to.
    Everyone has emergency situations, sometimes they cannot be helped. Remember in providing shoddy and reliable service, you will not win repeat business. Often the way to win repeat business is all down to how you handle your customer service!
    As suppliers we need to from time to time put ourselves into the client’s shoes. How would you feel if you had requested a service from a supplier, especially one that came highly recommended to you, agreed a SLA and provided a downpayment and then one week after deadline you had heard nothing from your supplier. As a client, you make contact, first by email and you hear nothing. Another email is sent and another and still no word back. You make a telephone call and you hear excuses for the reasons why your work has not been completed and all you can think is, “I have a deadline, I have paid a deposit, what do I do?” How would you feel at that point?
    Effective customer service is about communication. Think about your client. Communicate. Update them, let them know what is happening. Envisage what questions they may have and answer them before they even need to be asked. This way you gain a good reputation, you have a satisfied client and you are likely to win repeat business.
    Suppliers seem to have forgotten the once golden rule, “the customer is King”. We are suffering from a worldwide credit crunch, times are hard and there is a lot of competition out there and you need to not only “win” market share (which Gillian can expertly help you with), you need to “retain” it too!

    Amanda Carlin – Director
    AmandaCarlin.co.uk Ltd
    A One Stop Shop for All Business Support Services * Virtual * Worldwide

  • groupgsp February 20, 2010, 8:08 am

    Hi Amanda
    Glad you like the website. I am slowly building it with the help of a delightful coachee of mine who is awesome with the technicalities of Wordpress and the Thesis theme.
    The problems I have had over the past year with four different website providers is that they have you pay upfront via their shopping cart and do not offer an SLA. They then donMt peform to the agreed deadlines. Then they refuse to refund although they have not delivered what you paid for, then they start ignoring your emails. Having said that – emails are admissible evidence in court so one technically could pursue them but when they are in the US and I’m in Canada that’s not an option. Also, although I have over 3,500 firends on Facebook and could shoot their business down in flames by publicly naming them – they could write something untrue about me and kill my embryonic business so that is an option I daren’t go for.
    I think there needs to be a lot more international laws that regulate businesses that are operting via the Web so that there is more control and more security for people.

    On a personal note Amanada – I’ll be in the UK from mid-May for several weeks so if you’re doing an event during that time let me know – I am overdue a visit to Peterborough to catch up with friends and former TC colleagues.

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