Sunday, June 17, 2012
The transcription and VA industries in South Africa from a client’s point of view.
Tavasa - Transcriptionists and VAs of South Africa through the auspices of AMF Typing and Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC is embarking on an awareness campaign to make South Africans in general more aware of our industries.
There will be a series of articles published on this blog over the coming weeks in order to facilitate this.
I have been in the virtual industry since 2005. In fact, I first had the idea of a secretarial service in 2000, and tried it for a while, but back in those days we were stuck with dial up internet, and a whole host of other constraints that made working in the virtual field nearly impossible. I went back to work for a boss for five years, and then in 2005, with the advent of ADSL in South Africa, I was able to get my virtual business going. In those days, we had ADSL, Google was not a big deal, and neither Facebook nor blogging was something that anybody did with any regularity. But the internet was there, and I was able to pick up clients quite quickly.
Fast forward until today when the trend is that many businesses register a Facebook account and build a business page before getting a traditional website, and such things as cyber schools are available, and popular in countries like the United States.
Here is the thing though. I have come to understand that in South Africa, many people just aren’t aware or aren’t very trusting that this new way of doing business exists. A further constraint is that it’s the trend within South African virtual workers to take a low price for work that they do. On the reverse side of the coin, I’m not saying that one must overcharge. We must not. But the low prices charged or accepted by South African workers has led to the reputation that South African virtual workers can be obtained much cheaper than our international counterparts. And when we try to charge rates the same as those of American or British workers, we come in for flak from the potential client, even though the work we provide is the same quality as that provided by them. How do we counteract this reputation?
A) We continue to provide quality service
B) We charge fair rates and stick to them
C) We educate the business world that we exist and provide a good service
From the client’s perspective, it is rather scary embarking on doing things in a new way, a way in which they have not worked before. Therefore, it’s important to provide references, provide a quality look and feel and bring across the security of a professional presentation. Meet deadlines. Be communicative. Don’t let the client down. Visibly advertise your services. Tell people about what you’re doing. Attend networking meetings and tell the world that there is a way of doing things that they may not have considered. Invite them to see your home office. Often in South Africa there is the mindset among virtual workers and clients that we are just secretaries. This is not true. We are not secretaries. We are business owners, who provide an administrative function. There is a big difference, but if we want businesses to treat us with respect, we have to demand it from them. Remember that your client is looking for stability, for surety, to be safe in the knowledge that if he sends his work out into the big wide open, it’s going to get done properly and in time. This relationship is like any other – it has to be built up with communication and trust.
There are many questions that potential clients could have, for example what kind of service can be done virtually, what guarantees they have, etc, etc. Be as open and as communicative as possible. You can tell them that the types of services we can provide are typing, transcription, proofreading, editing, tables, graphic design, and many many more.
If you are a potential client reading this post, there are things you too can do to ensure the mutual feasibility of this type of relationship. Send the work when you say you're going to. Acknowledge quotes received and let the virtual worker know if you accept or not. Pay when you say you're going to. Let the person know if there have been problems or if he or she has done good work.
Anybody who has any questions is more than welcome to contact me via our Facebook page.
Gaynor Paynter is a transcriptionist, writer and proofreader
Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC
TAVASA Cofounder and Moderator
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