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Surviving the Lockdown: Key Considerations for Long-Term Remote Support Success

by Jessica Weisman-Pitts
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by Sumair Dutta, Senior Director of Digital Transformation at ServiceMax 

As the pandemic continues, field service organizations globally are working harder than ever to keep the world running. Many have ramped up investments in key technologies, accelerating digital plans, particularly in remote support.

Remote support – whether it’s remote connectivity of assets, remote technical support, or remote assistance – can reduce customer downtime, increase time to resolution, eliminate unnecessary field visits, and increase work and workforce efficiency. Service leaders are no longer just thinking remote support features or tools. They’re now strategically looking how remote support fits into the overall service delivery infrastructure – a clear sign organizations are investing in remote support for the long-term.

Considerations for Long-Term Delivery of Remote Support

  1. Monetizing Remote Support

While remote support might be a necessity in today’s world, can it be sold to customers? This is extremely relevant if remote sessions remove the need for other field-based revenue streams. Currently, service leaders are primarily looking at a model where remote support is included in the premium service contracts and then charged by the call for those customers who haven’t purchased premium contracts.

  1. Visibility and Entitlements 

Several organizations already have response commitments tied to remote support, requiring a remote response to service requests within compliant timeframes – making it essential to have visibility into entitlements when remote requests are made. Others have different pricing levels – e. the remote technician can’t resolve the service request, the proceeding service is charged at a discounted rate owing to the level of triage conducted.

  1. Remote Support as a Standard Process

Does every incoming support request need to go through a remote support workflow? Does every incoming request become an official work order that must be opened, managed, and closed? The answer is based on commercial and capacity considerations. Most organizations have level 1 support agents capturing service information and determining follow-on actions. In most instances, it’s impossible for agents to capture deeper asset, issue, or triage information. Therefore, the service request is sent to the field for triage or escalated to remote technical support. There’s a definite benefit to capturing additional information remotely, but organizations still aren’t convinced that every technical service call needs to go through a remote workflow.

  1. The Remote Customer Experience

Greater attention is being paid remote support channels. Is text or messaging good enough or is there a greater need for audio-visual channels? And how easy is it for customers to initiate remote support requests? Some organizations include remote initiation options within their customer service applications or communities. Others are more focused on service agent-initiated remote experience where the agent invites the customer to join a live chat session.

  1. Development and Management of a Remote Support Workforce

As the demand for remote support increases, organizations must build capacity. While most find it necessary to have a dedicated remote support workforce, others are augmenting existing remote capacity with field service agents who might have time in their calendars or looking at agents across time zones and geographies. Skillsets, availability, and expertise, typically reserved for scheduling field-based work, are also being applied to remote support models. Organizations are looking into aligning remote agents by asset familiarity and service expertise to ensure adequate service coverage.

  1. Tools and Resources For Remote Service

It’s common to offer remote support roles to retiring field service workers who may be less interested in traditional support but still want to contribute to their organizations and customers. The great benefit of relying on an experienced workforce is in the ease with which they can leverage their knowledge to diagnose or resolve issues. The problem is this knowledge continues to remain tribal and isn’t documented or transferred to less experienced remote support agents. Organizations must consider two sets of tools for remote support agents – those that enable useful remote interactions and those that provide necessary knowledge and information to remote agents.

  1. Accounting for Remote Support Work

Many organizations require a common service language that documents machine errors, work done, skills used, parts required, time commitment, and more. This common language is needed to build a service database that can be mined for usable intelligence and predictive outcomes. If x error occurs in the future, the organization can leverage this database to determine the most likely resolution and scenario. Remote support sessions are integral in this common service language, which means very remote session should have an accompanying work order capturing relevant information. More so, remote support activity must be made available to other service stakeholders, such as technicians and customers.

  1. Metrics for Remote Support Success

Resolution time and dispatch avoidance are the most common metrics used to measure remote support success. As this space matures, organizations will also begin to look at:

  • Remote workforce utilization
  • NPS with remote support sessions
  • Compliance with remote-level entitlements
  • Revenue per remote support agent