There are a million things that can make your assistant’s job easier on a regular basis. It can be anything from a never-ending supply of stationery to a call center software that helps them tackle the everyday deluge of inbound phone calls.
Office folklore says that secretaries and administrative assistants are the gatekeepers to an organization. However, a gatekeeper’s job is by no means an easy one. You can ask Heimdall, the fictional ‘all-seeing and all-hearing sentry’ of the realm of Norse gods. So, if you were a Norse god searching for the perfect gift for Heimdall on Secretary’s Day (currently known as Administrative Professionals’ Day), would you be looking for flowers and perfumes?
Or, would you want to give him something that addresses the 99 problems he faces on the job, every single day, in the form of back-to-back cosmic events and unsolicited calls from the underworld?
Why not think beyond gifting flowers?
A day in the life of an administrative assistant among mortals is no less tedious than Heimdall’s. They have to constantly hold fort against spam calls, unsolicited pitches, and meeting requests while continually coordinating with clients, vendors and also teams within office. While being swamped with all this, they also have to ensure that you do not miss out on an important conversation.
So, what you gift them as a token of appreciation on Secretary’s Day shouldn’t merely be a symbolic gesture. It should make their professional lives more productive and enable them to efficiently face these challenges.
So, what should you gift on Secretary’s Day?
Of course, you cannot solve all the challenges in a single day. But here’s one thing you can do to help your assistants and secretaries manage their time and effort better.
Throw away their phones.
Yes, it does sound like something that Loki, the god of mischief, would suggest, just to irk Heimdall. But here’s why it’s not.
A huge part of the communication that assistants sift through has been taken over by the electronic format, or are on the web. Then why hasn’t this evolution caught up with the way they answer phone calls?
This is where call center software (or a virtual phone system) comes in handy. With these, you can easily enable your assistant to take calls on the same web browser where they check emails and schedule meetings.
The good news is that these cloud-based phone systems need nothing more than an email id and an internet connection to set up and run. It is way simpler than ordering flowers too! Moreover, there are options that wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket.
8 ways a Virtual Phone System can help your assistant
The perks of switching to a virtual phone system are manifold. Some of them even go beyond the scope of your assistant’s work and help you streamline the way your entire organization handles communication. Here are some of their benefits:
1) Reduce the number of devices at work
This is perhaps the frontrunner among all the advantages. Assistants or coordinators often have to juggle between clunky phones and desktops. This makes organizing and scheduling a nightmare, with all the information scattered across multiple devices that are not synced.
Virtual Phone Systems not only allow your assistant to answer calls on their web browsers but also filter inbound calls and conduct transfers with just a few clicks.
What’s more, you can throw away the phone in your office too. If you’re added as a user on the software, you’ll be able to receive the calls that come through, on the device of your choice — be it your mobile phone or your laptop.
2) Minimize office software
It’s not just hardware that you can cut down on using a virtual phone system. It can render some of your office software obsolete too. Your assistant might be using multiple tools for call recording, making notes, transcribing calls, etc. With call center software, all of these tasks can be performed within the application itself, while answering calls.
These cloud-based phone systems do not need any sort of installation. This also means that they will not slow your office computers down.
When it comes to licensing and payment, most of them follow a subscription model. You can subscribe to a phone plan that suits your budget and requirements the best.
3) Clearly define business hours
Your assistant can set up timings on your virtual phone system according to your business hours. This means, if you or your assistant is not available to answer a call, you can choose to route the call to either of your mobile phones.
What’s even better, if you are unavailable you can also choose to send the message directly to voicemail. This ensures that you do not miss any calls made to you after working hours.
4) Be location-agnostic
You don’t have to set up hardware or infrastructure to make and receive calls. All you need is a working internet connection, an email id for signup, and a laptop or desktop. This means that you can be halfway across the world and your assistant or secretary can be in a coffee shop next to your office; they can still answer calls and route them to you based on your availability.
5) Give Heimdall a well-deserved break
Features like auto-attendant along with smart IVR routing make sure that your calls will be handled smoothly even if there is no one at the desk. So if you or your assistant goes on that much-deserved vacation, there’s a system in place to make sure that no important calls are missed or left unacknowledged.
6) Block spam calls
Administrative assistants face a large volume of inbound calls every day. This is one of the primary responsibilities that decrees them as the gatekeepers to your organization. Virtual phone systems are equipped to block spam numbers leaving room for secretaries and assistants to focus on conversations that really matter.
7) Work across teams seamlessly
Okay, to be honest, this is one benefit that will make a difference to your entire organization. Here’s why. Virtual Phone Systems are immensely helpful to not just your assistant but to all administrative professionals in your organization. By signing up for one, you can set up phone capabilities for multiple individuals and teams that handle high volumes of both inbound and outbound calls. You can even add your Support and Sales teams to it.
8) Conduct business as usual
Switching to a cloud-based phone system does not disrupt yours or your assistant’s work.
If you are a small business who haven’t set up phone infrastructure in your office premises yet, all you need to do is evaluate the many virtual phone systems or call center software available on the web. Then sign up for the product that suits your requirements the best.
If your office already has an on-premise phone system in place but is facing difficulty to scale because of the capital involved, then you are a perfect candidate to make this switch too. You can easily port your existing numbers into the new system and continue business as usual.
The best of industry professionals get lost in the daily onslaught of what we consider routine activities — opening mails, answering the phone, etc. Administrative professionals and secretaries are inundated with these activities throughout the day. At the same time, they have to juggle the duties of keeping your schedules organized, making sure you get into meetings on time, coordinating with other teams in your organization and talking to clients.
So on this Secretary’s Day, think about what can really make a difference in your assistant’s professional life. Of course, you can gift them a bouquet of flowers along with their choice of call center software. What if Heimdall turns out to be a flower aficionado after all.
Illustrations by Nikhil Kanda