This Isn't What I Asked For!– How to Handle Bad Results from your Virtual Services Provider

Your virtual assistant sends over the latest project you’ve been working on together.  Excited to have it complete your heart sinks when you look at it. “This isn’t what I asked for”  you grumble, getting ready to blast your VA for the lousy work.  But hold on a minute, before you rip them a new one, there are a few things you need to know.

As much as I want to say that virtual service providers get it right all the time, that would not only be a lie, it would be horribly misleading.  Do you get everything right all the time?   Even if you tell me yes, I’m not going to believe you. Nobody is perfect.  Imperfection aside, it can still be pretty upsetting when you’re paying someone to complete a project and it isn’t what you expected.   How do you handle something like that?

First, let’s discuss the fact that you should have signed a contract of some sort. Many people presented with a contract from a virtual services provider get nervous or irritated.  They feel  it’s overkill, especially if they are only looking for simple administrative services.  Be aware that a contract is as much for your protection as theirs.  In that contract there should be some mention of how errors are handled. For example:

In the event Client deems completed assignment incorrect or incomplete, Contractor will make corrections.

  • Time required to make corrections that are the result of Contractor error will not be billed to the Client
  • Time required to make corrections that are the result of the Client’s miscommunication of instruction or failure to provide necessary or accurate base information will be billed to the client.

You’ll notice in this example, the virtual professional is letting you know that if you deem the project incorrect or not complete they will  make the needed changes to make it right.  Take note that  they also state that you won’t be billed for the time required to fix it if the error is their fault.  They also state that they’ll still make the changes if the error is due to lack of complete information or directions on your part, but they will bill you for the time needed to make changes in that case.

Ok, you can breathe a little easier knowing that there are some guidelines in place for dealing with this situation.  Unless of course errors weren’t covered in the contract or you didn’t sign a contract at all.  In that case, you will need to discuss how to proceed with your virtual assistant.  Hopefully they will be willing to fix the work.

Now it comes down to figuring out why the outcome wasn’t what you expected.  This is going to require a discussion of why the project didn’t meet your expectations.  You need to be calm and level headed when this discussion takes place and so does your VSP (virtual services provider).  The best way to do this is to refrain from calling them immediately, while your emotions are still high.

Instead, take a few minutes to calm down and go over all of your communications with them regarding this project.  Try to view them objectively and determine if the directions you gave were clear or if perhaps you made assumptions based on your knowledge rather than theirs.   Did they  ask questions and did you answer them  completely?   Sometimes when we are familiar with something we forget that not everyone is and leave out information.   A good VSP should ask questions if they don’t fully understand directions, but even the best can feel confident that they understand only to later learn that you had a different vision.

Once you’ve had a few minutes to calm down and review prior communication, contact your VSP and calmly explain that the finished project isn’t what you expected.  Be specific  about what items do and do not fit your specifications.  It’s entirely possible that you’ve discovered communication between the two of you that explained those specifications. If so, mention the date of the communication and what you said.  Ask that the needed changes be made.

If during your review of communication you notice that your instructions might have been lacking the needed direction, explain that and ask if the project can be re-done with your new, more detailed, instructions.  It’s highly unlikely that they will refuse and if they do it’s time for a new VSP.   It would be a nice gesture to let them know you’re aware that it was an error on your part and because of that you’re willing to pay for the time needed to make the corrections.

In a majority of cases, you’ll find that your VSP is just as anxious to get the project done the right way as you are.  If by chance the person you’re working with tries to shift blame that rightly belongs on their shoulders or refuses to  make changes consider it a wake-up call that you are working with someone less than professional, cut your losses and find someone new.

No matter how upset you may be about the error, it’s never OK to berate, belittle or otherwise treat your VSP badly.  Addressing the problem calmly and professionally will allow you to communicate not only the problem , but how it needs to be fixed in such a way that they will want to work with you to make the needed changes resulting in a successful project.


Tina Marie Hilton provides online technology services to forward thinking businesses. She writes on her Tips from T.Marie business blog to share insight and information with other small businesses and entrepreneurs. It also makes her feel like that certificate in creative writing isn't going to waste completely.


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