Virtual Dilemma- Should Virtual Assistants pretend to be someone else?

In all the years I’ve provided virtual assistant services, one of the more enduring questions relate to virtual assistants from other parts of the globe particularly from the Philippines or India.

The Philippines and India are the consensus leaders in global outsourcing services. Companies from different regions continue to patronize the Philippines and India for their capacity to provide great value for money proposition:  consistent quality work at the most competitive prices. But the dilemma that surrounds acquiring outsourcing services from these countries remains to this day especially in voice-related projects.

Should the VA candidates have a secret identity?

One of my associates from the Philippines, Ricky, shared this story about a client of his who hired virtual assistants to perform appointment setting and personal assistant services. The client was from the United Kingdom and wanted the Filipino VAs to sound like the British. The client’s position was the British were particular about who they were dealing with and were not lukewarm to the idea of outsourcing jobs away from the European community. Poland was fast becoming a viable destination, but the Philippines had the track record and owned a significant comparative advantage in the cost of labor.

In addition to sounding British, the client also wanted the virtual assistants to adopt popular British names like “Ollie”, “Leighton”, “Alistair” or “George”.

Ricky advised the client that if the British were indeed “particular about who they were dealing with” then the last thing to do would be to pull the wool over their eyes; or ears in this matter, and ask the virtual assistants to be someone else or another nationality.

Ricky is an advocate of the tenets of Purposeful Marketing, a concept which supports the ideology that products and services would best be served if the purpose clearly resonated or connected with the target market. In order to connect, alignment between the people in the value chain and its purpose must be clearly established. For outsourcing services, this means people should be who they are.

Ricky told the client. “You cannot be true to your clients if you cannot be yourself. Decisions are primarily based on intuition then rationalized after. Establishing a strong connection with the client starts with building up on trust, honest and transparency; values which cannot be achieved if the approach is not genuine. If the virtual assistant’s pretended to be someone they are not, a disconnect will occur and the transaction will fail.

He further advised the client that most if not all of the scammers on the Internet are able to succeed because they pretended to be someone they are not.

One of the VA’s had a very Filipino-sounding name, “Bayani” which translated to English means “Hero”.

“Why can’t he refer to himself as ‘Hero’ then? It pretty much means ‘Bayani’.”

Ricky replied that when establishing trust you’re either all the way in with both feet or none at all. After more hesitation, the client agreed to let Ricky run the services according to the tenets of Purposeful Marketing.

Admittedly, the first few weeks were shaky as the VA’s were adjusting to the culture change and the Learning Curve. But within the first quarter, the VA’s surpassed targets. The client was pleased with the results and added to the roster of virtual assistant’s for his campaign.

It may be a difficult concept or proposition to accept at the start but all engagements are relationships which should be anchored in trust. By pretending to be someone they’re not, the protocol for trust will be violated.

As for “Bayani”, his name actually became a topic of conversation for the British customers. It was difficult to pronounce but its uniqueness made it easy to remember. It also gave Bayani an opportunity to establish a strong relationship with the customers by sharing information on Filipino history and culture.

Who knows maybe “Bayani” will eventually become a more popular name in the United Kingdom than “Colin” or “William”?