Remote Technical Service and Support During Covid-19

Keeping production systems and equipment in optimum working order requires preventive maintenance, good working practices and sometimes mechanical intervention. While most facilities have needed to rely more heavily on in house maintenance staff in recent months, our team at First Source Worldwide is beginning to receive urgent requests for technicians with specialized skills to solve ongoing issues or to effect warranty repairs and services. So, how are we, as a provider of technical and mechanical services, able to manage these needs in an era of limited or restricted travel between countries and regions? Remote technical support and service.

This isn’t a new idea. When one of our customers makes first contact with us to report an issue, we try to offer a couple of suggestions by phone. Maybe we’ll show a video or picture to one of our techs to see if we can offer a suggestion. Either we figure out the problem, or we book a technician to travel to the customer’s location and make the necessary intervention. The only problem during the COVID-19 era is that travel is not always possible, we need to fill in the gap and make the remote repair model more robust even if the technicians themselves are resistant to the idea. Here’s a quick story from my past to explain:

I went on a service call with a machine specialist to resolve a nagging problem at a tannery in the USA. I met the Italian technician at the airport, and we drove several hours to a tannery in middle of nowhere. We arrived mid day and made our way from the offices to the production area and before we could even see the machine, the technician had diagnosed the problem from the sound he heard. We spent the next 2 days taking everything apart, replacing a pinion and putting it back together and spent another half a day watching the machine run, making a few little adjustments and just making sure the owners and managers were completely satisfied. The customer was billed for 3.5 working days plus 2 travel days plus expenses and he was never happier. Some years later I had a call from another customer describing a similar problem. I asked him to send me a short video of the machine running and I heard the same sound coming from the pinion. I was able to explain the problem to their maintenance people and they were able to correct the issue. I was quite pleased with myself since I’d saved myself a week’s trip and I also saved the customer thousands of dollars. I spoke to the machine specialist and he quickly pointed out my (many) mistakes. There are 2 however, that are the most important.

  1. As the service provider, I did not get paid. While we don’t mind passing on tips at any time to help our customers, we must charge appropriately for our expertise in order to stay in business and support our customers and our industry for this and the next generation.  
  2. From the customer’s perspective, he did not get the full attention to details that makes a specialist a valuable asset. In this case, while the problem was solved, it came back a short time later because the inhouse maintenance staff did not align the new pinion correctly.

So, we end up with an unhappy technician (because he has no money) and an unhappy customer, because he only has a solution to a recurring problem, not a complete solution!

What’s needed is a level of intervention between “getting some advice on the phone” and a full technical service visit. What we now offer is a “chargeable” remote technical service which gives the customer access to a more complete technical intervention. At First Source Worldwide, we have a team of expert technicians within our network who will be able to analyze the problem, develop an appropriate solution, provide the parts and follow through with a complete virtual installation. This may require multiple remote connections over several days which makes it important to have the technician’s full attention to the project. By accessing remote service using the “chargeable” model, we make your remotely connected service the priority of the technician. Imagine a technician who is working on a machine Germany while answering 4 or 5 phone calls related to another machine in another part of the world. It’s not a great way to get information from someone. When you book a chargeable remote service, you have the technical team’s full attention as well as the full resource base available from the manufacturer such as drawings, parts lists and schematics. Translation from Italian to English or Spanish is also taken care of if necessary. If parts are required, the remote service can be divided into 2 or 3 segments. The first to diagnose and create a parts list, the second and subsequent visits after the parts arrive. If you have a mechanical issue that turns out to be an electrical or software problem, then we can shift gears and get the right expert technicians on the project without lengthy delays.

If this is something that you think might work for your company, please reach out and allow us to show you how a remote technical visit might be a great solution for you company. Click the picture below to contact a team member!

By |October 16th, 2020|Blog, Covid-19|0 Comments

About the Author:

Steve Gilberg is a Regional Sales Manager at First Source Worldwide. With over 20 years in the leather industry, he’s a reliable source for leather treatment, dyeing, and equipment. His careful approach makes him a superior color matcher. His workspace is usually immaculate…until he finishes his experiments.