Why the realities brought by COVID-19 should prompt manufacturers and service providers to consider their long-term strategy around enabling remote monitoring and diagnostics.
COVID-19 has sent shock waves through many businesses and the field service industry is no exception. Grounding of non-essential workers, shelter-in-place orders and travel restrictions have made it increasingly challenging to get necessary personnel on-site to service essential assets and services. As such, equipment manufacturers and service providers must quickly innovate in order to effectively maintain support for their customers.
Remote service is something that has long been incorporated for industries such as high-tech, where devices are easily accessible via web conferencing and other remote monitoring tools. IoT (internet of things) enabled equipment is still early in overall adoption and even the majority of “connected” devices require physical, hands-on actions to resolve the most common issues. As such, remote service may not be fully feasible for many organizations, but there are ways in which the need for physical visits can be reduced significantly. Pivoting to a “remote-first” approach can serve both as a contingency solution in the near-term, but can also serve as a more cost-efficient and customer-centric approach, even after COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
Remote service and remote assistance can take many forms:
Remote Expert - On-site technicians receive support from support center experts.
Today this method generally involves a support center phone call to talk through a problem. With modern technologies, companies can utilize video and even augmented reality to assist communications, and provide heightened support. This can minimize time on-site, decrease repeat visits, and avoid the need to send large teams on-site.
Peer-to-Peer Collaboration - On-site technicians get support from another technician.
Similar to Remote Expert, another option for support is communicating with another technician. This allows a similar experience but the technician is likely mobile as well. Similar benefits can be seen as using remote experts.
End-User Support - Customers receive video support for troubleshooting from a customer support center.
This method is useful when problems require someone to physically complete an on-site task. End-user support can be a dramatic cost-saver and reduces travel expenditure (domestic and international). Video chat and annotation with customers allows for simple troubleshooting and manipulation, and enables service providers and manufacturers to support a wide variety of field service actions. Even if the problem does result in a technician going on-site, the likelihood of a first-visit resolution drastically improves.
A remote presence isn’t just valuable in our current environment, but can lead to long-term success in decreased costs and faster resolution with minimal customer downtime. By some estimates, augmented reality for field service can reduce site visits by as much as 71%, according to the most recent report by the Technology Services Industry Association.
So, what can you do right now?
Well, there are technologies that allow you to enable this functionality quick-time. Some require additional hardware, but others can be utilized on your existing laptops or phones.
Check these options that can plug directly into Salesforce Service Cloud and Field Service Lightning (and other systems):
- Vonage(formely Tokbox): Remote video conversations with messaging, voice and more. Launch directly from Salesforce.
- SightCall: Remote video conversations with remote action of end-users device. Launch directly from Salesforce.
- HelpLightning: Visual collaboration using Merged Reality to guide on-site users. Launch directly from Salesforce.
- Upskill:Augmented reality for wearables allowing remote support.
Is now really the right time?
The realities brought about by COVID-19 should also prompt manufacturers and service providers to consider their long-term strategy around enabling remote monitoring and diagnostics to reduce on-site requirements. By having detailed diagnostics provided by the equipment, field technicians can be equipped with the required knowledge, tools and parts to complete the repair in a single visit.
This can also lead to predictive maintenance scheduling which can be more efficient overall as compared to emergency break-fix field visits. Manufactures may also find the option for remote monitoring to be a value-add option that customers are willing to pay for, thus creating both an additional revenue stream as well as driving overall cost efficiencies for field service operations.