The stories are piling up and I love them!
Not long after I published my last post discussing virtual technician visits , a business acquaintance of mine reached out on LinkedIn to share how my article hit home. Somewhere in Western Canada, the virtual visit witnessed was less than ‘virtual’. To the delight of the neighbour watching this instant ingenuity, it consisted of a technician shouting instructions to the customer through an open window. I’m sure you can imagine yourself in this scene.
Another article I happened across this week is the story of a team pulling out all the stops for their customers. As reported by a local news channel, Cox Communications' field teams have had to innovate in any number of ways to perform an installation or repair while respecting the rules of social distancing.
"We've had to do things like buy a Home Depot bucket and put it over a modem installed outside," explained Shawn Duncan, Vice President of Field Operations in Arizona and Nevada. "Sometimes we'll install a modem with Wi-Fi in the garage temporarily. Then we will come back and install it the right way once this is all over."
Well done, Shawn!
No doubt, some of these stories will become fables in telecom history but we can already sense a shift away from the early makeshift solutions and workarounds. Communications service providers are quickly adapting technology in their virtual visits to ensure the safest technician and customer experience, while providing great service.
The beginning of the end for in-home installations
The end state is unknown but based on conversations among industry leaders; I believe the current situation will affect sustained change for the in-home installation and service model for CSPs.
Yes, out-of-the-box installations were already available for select broadband offerings prior to the COVID-19 outbreak but widespread physical distancing measures have forced telecommunication and cable companies to adapt their approach across all residential services.
Ads promoting self-serve installations are on every media channel. Field and care teams are swiftly but quietly adopting more secure tools to facilitate virtual visits.
Operators are realizing the appetite of consumers for self-service options, which opens the door for the visual and interactive technology the gaming industry has paved the way for. Once only a future consideration, this type of support center solution is now seeing rapid adoption by telecommunication and cable service providers.
I’m not a fan of the expression, but the term ‘new normal’ springs to mind.
Enter augmented reality and virtual technicians
Companies like Blitzz are reporting a surge in interest, particularly from CSPs that are keen to understand how use cases for remote troubleshooting and guided installations can be implemented. The Blitzz solution is a simple text or email code to unlock a customer’s device which act like a remote set of ‘eyes’ for the field technician or care center.
It’s a brilliantly simple concept to power other, more robust applications.
For instance, Mariner’s work to compliment remote visual assistance technology with augmented reality for our field technician apps is well under way. Things are moving fast to improve remote assistance and even self-care.
I won’t give away any secrets, but imagine a virtual technician guiding consumers with advanced decision support and real-time visualization of signal within the home, boosted by augmented reality.
Imagine what that looks like as an integrated, collaborative customer experience. Imagine that scenario as compared to troubleshooting a repair through the window or a modem installation in a bucket.
Fast-forward a few months or a year and imagine the reduction in truck rolls and technician dispatches.