Verizon and Cox are providing their technicians new tools to serve small business and residential customers without entering the premises. The tools are especially helpful as the nation practices social distancing to avoid spreading COVID-19.
The Verizon tool helps technicians repair wireline voice, data or video services. It’s a virtual assistant, video chat app, and self-service portal. Thousands of technicians are using the tool and have resolved 90 percent of repair requests, according to the carrier.
In practice, Verizon technicians dispatched in response to customer repair requests will continue to do outside repairs that may be needed. For inside repairs, customers can use the virtual assistant tool, which serves as a stand-in for the technician’s physical presence.
A Verizon technician outside the residence or premise sends the customer a text with a link which starts a video chat. The customer can share images of his or her indoor equipment so the technician can help diagnose the problem from outside of the customer’s location. The customer can video chat with the technician who, in real time, can draw on the picture of the customer’s equipment so that the customer can follow the technician’s instructions on how to perform the repair. Click here to see a video of the Verizon virtual assistant.
Cox Communications last week launched a similar tool called “On-site with Virtual Assist.” Cox partnered with remote technology company Help Lightning, to bring the new service to market. Now, instead of entering a customer’s home to troubleshoot, Cox technicians can handle service requests from outside.
To access Virtual Assist support, Cox customers request help as they normally would through the Cox website or Connect app. A Cox technician then contacts the customer to get their preferred method of communication – i.e. call, text and/or video chat – and sets up a time to troubleshoot outside of the customer’s business or home.
If a customer prefers video chat, the Cox technician sends the customer a text message with a link to connect. To do that, the customer needs a smartphone with a rear-facing camera. Additionally, Cox technicians can use augmented reality to guide customers through in-home set ups and common issues like tightening the fitting on the back of a cable box.
The new tool was first available in California – one of the pandemic’s hardest hit states – and Sun Valley, Idaho. Now it’s available in all Cox markets, for both business and residential customers.