Leveraging the Value of Remote Support in a Post COVID World

Dec 11, 2020 • FeaturesMichael BlumbergDigital TransformationCovid-19Remote Services

In this exclusive article for Field Service News, Michael Blumberg, President of Blumberg Advisory Group, analyzes how remote support tools will continue to provide lots of benefits to organizations in the field service sector in the post-pandemic world.

One of the ways that Field Service Organizations (FSOs) have been able to overcome the challenges of Covid-19 is through the provision of Remote Support, also known as Touchless Service. This represents a viable way for FSOs to renegotiate SLAs and to effectively resolve customers’ service issues where restrictions exist. Although remote support has been around for some time, it was not always the preferred solution. Covid-19 has made the provision of remote support a necessity.

Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been an increase in the use of remote support tools to deliver a Touchless Service experience. The increase can be measured in terms of the number of companies using these tools and applications, the frequency in which they are used, and the applications in which they are used. Originally perceived as an application for delivering 2nd tier expert support, remote support tools are now used in a broad array of service situations from installations, to depot repair, to site surveys and application support.

Many industry participants wonder how remote support tools will be utilized Post COVID. Will FSOs abandon Touchless Service for a more traditional onsite experience? The answer is no. Touchless Service is now becoming table stakes for FSOs. This is because remote support tools offer a lot of benefits to a service organization and the customer. One of the biggest benefits is it eliminates friction, and friction is caused when there are a lot of touches, steps, or time involved in completing a task or process. Remote support tools enable FSOs to reduce or eliminate technician travel time which allows them to complete more calls per day.


No doubt, FSOs will need to incorporate Touchless Service into their overall business strategy. The specifics of how and when remote support will be deployed will depend in part on the industry or vertical market. Key considerations include the complexity, criticality, and safety issues involved in supporting the install base. Touchless Service is appropriate for supporting equipment in an environment that’s not complex and where the customer is willing and capable of participating in the service resolution process.  However, a more complex service environment, one that is mission-critical and presents safety concerns or requires specialized skills or certification, will likely mandate an onsite service visit. Nevertheless, remote support tools can still play a critical role in providing expert assistance in either case.

FSOs also need to decide when to deploy or emphasize the softer skills involved in maintaining high levels of customer loyalty and satisfaction. After all, the human connection is important and it’s just not the same with remote support, even if it involves video.   As such, FSOs should evaluate the critical touchpoints during the customer journey where an in-person site visit is both appropriate and valuable. These can be planned or ad-hoc or by exception. For example, in reoccurring service issues or during a service event that occurs less than 90 days before service contract renewal. In these instances, the technician servs as a brand ambassador and trusted advisor to the customer.

FSOs may also want to consider how they monetize their investment in remote support technologies. The ability to monetize will depend on the economics of service delivery, customer willingness to pay, or the competitive practices within a specific service market. In other words, there are use cases where it could be more economical for an FSO to provide remote support as part of a basic service offering and not charge extra while there are other use cases that justify offering it as part of a premium-priced, value-added service. Assuming monetization is an objective, then there are several steps that an FSO needs to accomplish First, they need to gain clarity about the value-in-use of remote support. They need to be able to clearly articulate this value to their customers. The second step is to construct service offerings with different price points. Third, conduct market research to validate there’s a value to the customer and the customer is willing to pay for theses services. Fourth, determine the addressable market for the service. Lastly, create a go-to-market plan and roll-out the new offering to a select group of pilot customers.

Remote support will continue to provide a trifecta of value in our post-pandemic world. Value driver #1 is that it dramatically improves the customer experience. Customers receive faster service and are more engaged in the service resolution process. Value driver #2 is that it optimizes service delivery, so an FSO can do more with fewer people. Remote support frees technicians from travel which means one technician can handle more service request per day. Value driver #3 is increased technician productivity. Less time on the road means more time resolving customers' issues remotely, which leads to more calls completed per day.

It is important that FSOs view the rollout of remote support solutions from a strategic perspective not simply as another application within their technicians or tech support personnels’ tool kit. Remote support has implications for various aspects of the service business and stakeholders. Due diligence is required when it comes to integrating remote support into the overall service business strategy since the return on investment can be significant.

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