Do You Provide Virtual Services? It’s Time To Stop Using The Term Virtual Assistant.

let go of the term virtual assistant

Back in June of 2010 I penned a blog post asking if virtual service providers needed something more than the name virtual assistant.  9 years later I’m here to say, if you provide virtual services, stop using the term virtual assistant to describe what you do.

In my 2010 article, my concerns with the term had everything to do with how the media and the general public were interpreting the term Virtual Assistant.

Back then, when people thought virtual assistant they immediately equated it to low-cost, personal assistant type services.  It was putting those of us providing specialized and executive level services at a disadvantage.  Today, while we still battle the same thing to a certain extent, there is a new element that is the final straw for the term Virtual Assistant as services professionals have used it.

The rise in AI assistants like Siri and Alexa have further diluted the term significantly.  In fact, check out this Wikipedia entry for Virtual Assistant, which defines it as a software agent.  Say the term virtual assistant and at least half the people in the room are going to be thinking Alexa, not business services. Instead of becoming less confusing, the term has become more ambiguous.

This is why I think it’s time for those of us who provide business to business services remotely to stop using the term to describe what we do. 

I stopped using it several years ago, although one or two of my clients still refer to me as ‘their virtual assistant’.  I found a term that fit my services and was easier for people to understand.  When I tell them I’m an online technology consultant or assistant, they know that I’m here to help businesses adopt things online tech related.

But what about our industry as a whole? 

I think the industry should start moving away from the term as well. In fact, I think that the term virtual services provider or remote services provider is far more accurate than the term virtual assistant.  Both options give businesses and potential clients a clearer picture of what we provide. It also would separate us from Siri, Alexa and the $4 hour virtual assistants. 

What do you think? 

Let’s talk about it in the comments or on my Facebook page!


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.


  1. Brenda Ross on February 12, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    What if your business name has the term in it like mine?

    • TMarieHilton on February 12, 2019 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Brenda, what exactly is the name of your business? There are ways to still use the same business name but focus your website content and social media on a different term. My business name is an example. When I started out it was all about clerical assistance, so I named it Clerical Advantage, as my services have changed I have put less and less focus on the name, using my own name and the type of service I provide in the forefront.

  2. Only Choose Best on February 14, 2019 at 9:40 am

    I totally agree with you, therefore, I call myself an Online Administrative Consultant, and I offer Online Administrative Support, although, I haven’t had any clients so far (just started short time ago), I am already thinking to head away from that term too, as I do more than what people think of when you say ‘administration’… So, I try to start using just plain ‘online support’.
    However, the problem with VA is, that people are starting to use the term, and eventhough it may have a different sound to it, than what it really is, it IS what people know… When I post articles, they about the job, they are about VA’s, if we all start using different terms, for the same thing (eventhough we all do different things, but you get what I mean), then won’t it become even more confusing for businesses?
    Just a thought 🙂

    • TMarieHilton on February 14, 2019 at 9:57 am

      Hi Ann, thanks for stopping by and taking part in the conversation. If we all just suddenly stopped using the term VA, then yes, it would be a bit confusing for those businesses and individuals who actually understand that there are human, highly skilled VA’s not just AI or $4 an hour virtual assistants. However, a slow move away from the term, using it in conjunction with newer, more applicable terms for our services wouldn’t do so. Honestly, I don’t think we are going to have a choice as AI virtual assistants start to become more and more common.