The past year has spurred more interest in and adoption of remote support than ever before. And it’s clear the remote-first approach to service delivery is here to stay, with remote assistance software playing a key role
Marc Guthrie, COO of Help Lightning, outlines why optimisation, exceeding workforce capacity, evolving the technician role and transforming service centres are four key benefits of using remote assistance software in field service
It’s no secret the pandemic thrust digital transformation on industries across the board. Change anytime can be unsettling and stressful, let alone when the entire world is fighting an ever-evolving virus. Amid all the changes, organisations are discovering smarter, more efficient and cost-effective ways of doing business. This is certainly true for service organisations and remote assistance.
Remote assistance software utilises augmented reality to create a virtual environment, where a person needing help ‘meets’ an expert on a video call, in real time, to solve a complex problem. The two parties can communicate instantly—anytime, anywhere. This technology isn’t new but it quickly became the norm in 2020, given directives to stay at home and social distance.
Through augmented reality features such as merged reality and 3D annotation, the expert can virtually reach out and touch whatever the person needing help is working on. The software allows the expert’s hand to display in the field of view of the person needing help and the expert can annotate, use hand gestures and even bring in tools, parts, images or instructions to quickly resolve the problem.
The list of industries embracing this technology is long, including medical device and health care, manufacturing, transportation, energy, and oil and gas, just to name a few. The industry applications run the gamut, from equipment inspections and installations to utility outages, surgical equipment training, planned shutdown maintenance, customer support, and more.
Within the field service industry, specifically, four overarching benefits have emerged for organisations and technicians who employ remote assistance:
Optimising service delivery: A challenge that can be solved in a virtual environment means a service organisation doesn’t have to dispatch a technician into the field. Operating under a remote-first approach to service delivery is substantially more efficient than sending a technician into the field right away. Utilising remote assistance software not only saves time and money, it also enhances the customer experience. Since the technology enables more in-depth, detailed service and first-time fixes, customer expectations are often exceeded.
Extending workforce capacity: The field service industry is set to lose a vast amount of technical experience when its aging service tech workforce retires. Skilled labour shortages will only exacerbate the looming shortage of field service technicians. But remote assistance offers the industry a unique opportunity to extend its workforce capacity. Say, for instance, an experienced technician still wants to work but doesn’t want to be in the field anymore. A service organisation can still tap that technician and his or her expertise through remote assistance software. With this technology, technicians who wish to step back from the field no longer have to retire. They can work from home or at a headquarters as a non-traveling expert and service organisations can preserve their valuable technical knowledge longer.
Evolving technician roles: Field service technicians will always be needed because some customer problems will inevitably be too complex for remote assistance. But as innovation and technology lessen the need for on-site support, technician roles can evolve. With more of a remote-first service delivery approach, field service technicians can focus more on selling, customer loyalty and satisfaction scores. In this way, field service technicians will become more like account managers or consultants.
Transforming service centres: Service organisations also have an opportunity to evolve, particularly around how they structure service delivery. Increasingly, companies are realising they can monetise their investments in remote assistance software. By offering remote support as a paid service, the organisations create a new revenue-generating offering. In turn, service centers can be transformed into profit centers.
The past year has certainly spurred more interest in and adoption of remote support than ever before. This trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon and it’s clear the remote-first approach to service delivery is here to stay. Organisations will continue to explore and invest in remote assistance software given the versatility, value and opportunities it offers field service, call centers and technical support.
About the author
Marc Guthrie is the chief operating officer at Help Lightning. He boasts more than 25 years of hands-on leadership in a variety of fields—from healthcare to retail, financial services to manufacturing and distribution. Marc has extensive experience designing and building enterprise-class software products and solutions.
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Images: Canva and Help Lightning