If you’re looking for context on the concept of remote-first service, let’s look at the growth of mobile devices. Remember way back when the term ‘mobile first’ was a new concept? Right around 2010, smartphones and tablets were becoming widely adopted, and providing mobile-first capabilities became essential for many businesses. Everyone from website developers to banking executives started prioritizing mobile-first strategies in response to consumer demand.
Technology has grown exponentially since ‘mobile first’ became popularized. A new term is now emerging in the service sector: remote-first service.
Remote-first emerged over the last decade. But, awareness of its capabilities only really started to grow about 5 years ago. As service companies became increasingly aware of remote-first service solutions, many started testing it. They believes that full-blown adoption was still several years away.
Then COVID-19 hit, and integration of remote-first service platforms accelerated faster than anyone could have expected. “I’ve been in this industry for 30 years. Service has changed more in the last twelve months than it’s changed in the last 12 years. Seismic changes, all for the better, and there’s no going back,” says Help Lightning’s Senior Consultant, Evans Manolis.
Now that the pandemic appears to be waning, will remote first service continue at its current rate of adoption? Considering the industry-wide results, It’s clear that remote-first service is here to stay. Results include cost reduction and increased productivity, increased service first time fix rates (FTFR) and faster resolution times.
Remote-first service is the ability to effectively and dynamically respond to service requests from any location. It enables service organizations to fulfill customer requests either fully or partly, without requiring any sort of physical interaction.
At Help Lightning, we enable remote-first service with our remote visual assistance software. Merged reality AR features allow service providers to interact with each other. They can also see a customer’s physical environment from anywhere as if they were working side by side.
For example, a technician trying to solve a problem can use Help Lightning to call in support. Both parties can view the same image on their screen or device. A remote expert can reach into the technician’s field of view to show what the problem is and demonstrate a solution.
Remote-first service with remote visual assistance means getting eyes on the problem no matter where you are. Fewer dispatches translates to cost savings, boosts uptime, and increases productivity. It also provides a better customer experience.
Adoption of remote-first technology was experiencing steady growth before COVID-19, but the pandemic served as a major accelerator. Once the pandemic hit, many organizations that had just started using remote-first service shortened the time frame for planned rollouts. Other companies only just became aware of remote-first technology.
Even as the pandemic starts to recede, remote-first service is expected to continue on its growth trajectory. So many service providers had to be agile. They changed to a remote-first service model in order to maintain business throughout the pandemic. The traditional service model is changing, and remote-first service helps technicians be more productive, while saving companies time and money.
“The decision to start using remote assistance software is a lot easier than it was 13 months ago,” shares Manolis. “First, it has become a necessity, as many service organizations still are having challenges dispatching field technicians. Second, it’s a differentiator. Service is a highly competitive market. Companies are seeing that they need remote capabilities to differentiate how they deliver service.”
Additionally, service organizations are experiencing new paths of revenue using remote-first technology. The initial buy in for remote-first service is typically cost reduction and added productivity. At Help Lightning, we are seeing our service clients monetize remote-first service. They do this by adding it to contracts as a value add for customers. Companies that offer multiple service packages can now offer remote-first service as part of their top-tier offers.
Finally, remote-first service will continue to grow as it integrates with other up and coming technologies. These include Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). While no one can predict the future, all signs point toward the ability for remote diagnostics and predictive analytics. These will allow service providers to proactively resolve problems before they occur.
“I talk to service executives who say they will not be going back to the traditional break-fix model,” Manolis says. “Remote is here to stay. It’s now the standard way to deliver and receive service. We’re not going back. This is the future.”
Does remote-first service mean an end to in-person visits of service technicians and field service engineers (FSEs)? Or even worse, does widespread adoption of remote-first service indicate that the need for these jobs will disappear?
The answer: No, not even close. Nothing can replace the skill and knowledge of a human being. Instead, the role of technicians and FSEs is likely to shift into a mix of hands-on work. This is alongside playing a consultative role for customers. Remote-first service will reduce the number of in-person visits technicians FSEs will need to make. But this does not translate to a reduced need for skilled workers. Instead, it means that these employees now have the ability to work faster and focus on more high value work.
“There’s always going to be a need for the field service engineer,” Manolis says. “The complexity of products in the marketplace necessitates someone being onsite at some point. You can’t fix every problem remotely. But what you’re going to see is the FSE operate more as a trusted advisor. In that role, FSE’s can more easily engage with customers and find upsell and cross sell opportunities.”
Manolis acknowledges that FSE’s are adopting remote service first, but the change does not happen overnight. Most FSE’s and technicians have a lot of experience. They have been delivering service the same way, some for more than a decade. They need to experience the personal benefits first hand.
For example, completing tasks quickly translates to time savings. This way, technicians have more free time to spend with friends and family. Perhaps financial incentives resulting from increased adoption and use of the solution would help.
Ready to add remote visual assistance to your service company’s digital toolbox? Do some research using this remote visual assistance buyer’s guide.
Schedule a free demo of Help Lightning. Learn how we are helping service organizations like yours use remote visual assistance technology to reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve customer experiences for greater profitability.