We’ll release a podcast this week with my summary and highlights from last week’s very first Future of Field Service Live Tour stop in Paris, so I am going to keep this specific to just one topic. The event was great – it was really exciting to see this platform come to life in in-person form. One of the topics that came up more than I was expecting it to was remote service.
The audience either already had a remote service strategy in place or were in agreement that it is a “must” in the near term. Roel Rentmeesters of Munters spoke with me and shared the story of how the company first deployed Remote Assistance to aid with Covid restrictions but is now expanding the technology’s use into a standard remote-first service approach. He did comment that feelings about the use of remote service changed after restrictions were lifted, with technicians questioning more its use than when travel wasn’t permitted. However, he and other attendees agreed that – emotions or not – it is an inevitable part of the future of field service.
Why? A few key reasons came up. First, customer expectations will demand it. Response time is critically important, across industries and businesses. But while customers demand faster and faster response, organizations face the impossibility of scaling up in labor to meet those demands. Thus, remote service helps to bridge that gap. It provides the ability to respond quickly, and sometimes resolve issues remotely as well. This improves customer satisfaction, but it has the added benefit of helping companies eliminate costly, unnecessary onsite visits.
Remote Service Alleviates Frontline Burden
One of the benefits of remote service is that it helps organizations to make better use of their resources – which we know are scarce. This is the second reason that its expanded use seems imminent. Companies can use remote service to remotely assess and diagnose issues, so that trips on-site are lessened, either by remote resolution or by more accurate preparation to maximize first-time fix. This improves efficiency whilst helping reduce the burden on the frontline worker which is a problem almost every company in attendance is looking to solve.
The other way remote service helps address the talent gap is as an internal tool. One of the scenarios that was discussed at the event is that a technician who is no longer interested in traveling, but has valuable experience, can use Remote Assistance from the back office, or even home, to aid a number of less experienced technicians working in the field. This gives companies the advantage of extending the lifespan of their most knowledgeable and experienced talent while getting “greener” technicians in the field faster for hands-on experience with expert support.
Like with anything, it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Some employees have resistance toward the technology, either because they feel it is burdensome or because they feel it puts their jobs at risk. It was shared that some customers can also have reservations, perhaps because they feel the technology will be cumbersome to use or for security reasons. Finally, the evolution puts organizations in the position of having to sort out just how service delivery changes in a remote-first approach. What does that look like? How do processes change? Resources? What investment is required?
While not without some questions to answer and change to manage, remote service was spoken about at the event as a given – and I believe that is with good reason. Are you ready for the wave?
Stay tuned for Wednesday’s podcast to hear more about the event!