WhatsApp, IMs, and Texts – Oh My! - Virtual Assistant Israel

WhatsApp, IMs, and Texts – Oh My!

You were a traditional executive accustomed to working in an office environment. Like the boss in the 80s movie Baby Boom, you’ve become a cutting-edge entrepreneur juggling your laptop, your take-out boxes, and that portable file crate that you’ve got belted into the back of your overfilled car (it may or may not be in a car seat).  You’re fast-careening into the negative numbers of available time (you’re convinced you saw the clock moving forward by three hours on its own).  Gone are the days when you’ve had access to that pool of temps and junior assistants from the third floor.  You are flying solo, and now you’ve decided you need a wingperson. You’ve wisely chosen one of the seasoned team members at Virtual Assistant Israel.

About a week in, your VA’s cell phone is awash in instant messages (IMs) from a few apps, a flood of SMS, and a tsunami of .jpgs, .pdfs, and more, accompanied by the worst offender in the professional world: the WhatsApp voice note.  These tools can be used for a quick message or in circumstances when you need to share content via WhatsApp, so it can be forwarded or group posted in WhatsApp.  It’s also fine to convey a periodic voice message, just like you would in any other setting.  But if you are using WhatsApp or other social messaging platforms for your task management, you are slowing business down – not speeding it up:

  • Voice notes take time – to leave and to hear.  Unless you are sending a dictation for a document (and your VA knows to be on the lookout), as long as it took you to leave your voice note is the same amount of time your VA needs to listen to it.  When you text, yes it takes you time to type but your VA can read in a flash.
  • You won’t know it when leaving a voice note, but sometimes it’s totally occluded by background noise, you’re inaudible, you have wi-fi dropouts or other static, etc. Then, your VA tells you that you need to record the whole message again. Waste. Of. Time.
  • Voice notes are not searchable.  There’s no little robot (yet) that scans your voice notes for keywords.  If you must leave a voice note, please at least type a little keyword phrase to highlight the context of the voice note.  Your VA can then search for those words and find the voice note with greater ease
  • If you are sending many messages or high-volume content, your VA may not even see it come in.  Most apps have very limited screen real estate and like SMS, they just keep moving old content up and out of view as new content comes in.  So before you scold your VA for missing your message, think about how you sent it.
  • If you are not leaving giant speeches via voice note, you may be a vague texter.  “Coffee on 3 skirt paper”.  Unless you’ve had a verbal conversation, avoid cryptic messages.  Again, your VA may miss a message like this, especially if they can’t search for it.  Try “Pls schedule coffee with clientX @ 3, send me the skirt design by 1.”  

A more challenged manager may even decide that they are the king or queen of the Appland and they can say whatever they want on a voice note – things they may not say in a traditional office setting; things they would never dare to say on a corporate (HR monitored) voice mail system.  Others may believe that they can manage or delegate long, intricate instructions or a task so wildly effectively on a voice note. Again, this wastes time. Not only does your VA need to listen to the note, they need to take notes, so that when they actually get into a conversation with you (please not via a big long voice note exchange!) they need to clarify.  Now, you’ve both spent twice as much time than you would have if you had carved out a few minutes for a live conversation. 

Another common pitfall is the follow-up on the follow up. You may have pinged your VA to do a particular task (and that pinging may have been in an email) and your VA confirms in one of any number of communication locations you employ.  As time goes on, it will be harder and harder for both of you to remember who did what, what’s still looming. Yes, for the third time, I’m confirming that I handled the call about the chicken shirts in Milan… wait, what?? What London chicken SKIRTS?

Related, long or formatted text is sometimes hard to copy into and out of WhatsApp which can pose inter-app flexibility and add more formatting time than you may realize.  And of course, we cannot forget the phenomenon of how apps sometimes automatically archive or expire your older messages and media content.  This is totally outside your control and makes finding content retroactively practically impossible.

Text and IM apps are not designed to manage business communications as effectively as software that is designed for that purpose.  Some project management software also has an accompanying phone app and can also set up desktop notifications.  True, some apps partner better with your smartphone than others, and pricing varies.  It’s worth you and your VA sourcing a solution that fits your specific business needs and unified workstyles.  

Need a kickoff?  ProofHub compares and contrasts 54 project management software solutions!

Whenever possible, direct communication is best. Voice notes, IMs, SMS – these should all be considered for informal communication.  Once you start getting into any level of complexity, a live call is a far better choice to avoid going one step forward and two steps back.