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Remote Virtual Inspections: The industry's new best practice

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Kristen Gray

It used to be widely accepted that field teams needed to be on site to complete inspections and assessments. Many inspectors who were used to traveling to site couldn’t imagine a future where these visits were completed remotely – until the pandemic forced change, quickly. 

When the shift to remote service happened, the benefits realized were above and beyond what field teams were expecting. Not only were inspections completed with the same efficacy, but with less time and costs wasted, and more data uncovered.

A new service model that emerged is remote virtual inspections (RVIs) - a form of inspection where field teams use a virtual service platform to complete inspections remotely.

Inspectors are now using RVIs for anything from simple re-inspections to innovative offerings like DIY programs, where they virtually consult with homeowners on how to create compliant DIY home upgrades.

The result? Safer, more effective, data-informed, and engaging inspections.

Which industries are benefitting from RVIs?

Municipal governments have shifted to offer virtual inspections to increase safety, cut emissions,  reduce costs, and keep up with rising demand. 

Warranty teams for products and homes have begun to offer virtual claim inspections in order to provide faster, more efficient service, and reduce unnecessary costs.

Utility companies have started virtually completing home efficiency audit inspections and getting eyes on the nature of no heat, no power claims. 

A gap in the market

Despite the fact that remote virtual inspections have now been championed by several states and regions in North America alone, ICC shared in a recent study that more than 60% of municipalities don't have the ability to remotely complete inspections. 

This leaves a huge gap in the market for companies looking to improve their customer experience with an efficient and unique service offering.

Virtual service as a differentiator

When inspectors started completing more of their jobs virtually, a reduction in travel, costs, and exposure to harmful conditions followed naturally. Still, many companies expected to return to ‘the way things have always been done’ after the pandemic subsided. 

After implementing a new virtual service channel, field teams were surprised by many benefits that they didn’t expect. A few examples of these are:

Innovative virtual service offerings

Forward-thinking organizations realized that, by using a virtual service platform, they were able to reach the job site without any of the costs associated with travel. And they leveraged that. 

This led to some really unique service ideas, like DIY consultations with customers to quickly ensure their projects are code compliant. 

Improved data capture and insights

Virtual service allowed for data to be captured, stored, and analyzed automatically in one company-wide workspace, or integrated with existing systems. 

Now, field teams can access data that was either unavailable, unorganized, or hard to gain insights from before they conducted remote virtual inspections. This data, automatically processed and shared, gives them actionable insights and helps them immediately improve their customer and employee experience.

Better cross-organizational alignment

When data is stored visibly for different customer-facing departments to access, communication about accounts and inspections is made much simpler. 

By copying a link and sharing it with a colleague, inspectors can share video, photos, and notes from an inspection, making it easier to review in their own location and on their own time.

With improved communication and collaboration, previously siloed departments can create more holistic customer experiences.

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Workflow = transformed

Virtual service technology can help entirely transform an organization's workflow. Not only does it help teams streamline the inspection process, but it provides an easier way to schedule inspections, organize data, and provide data insights that would have been either impossible or very time consuming before virtual inspections were conducted.

Here’s how the new inspection workflow looks with a virtual service platform:

Pre-inspection

Customer service departments don’t have to worry about receiving inquiries and scheduling all the site visits themselves - by integrating a scheduling application on their website, an organization can have their inspectors calendars booked and populated automatically.

  • Customers or contractors can schedule virtual inspections directly through an organization's website or microsite, and the inspectors calendar is populated automatically.
  • The customer or contractor receives a meeting invitation by email, and can accept the appointment, add it to their calendar, reschedule, or cancel through that link.
  • Just like a call center, the customer opts into recording the session.
  • Additional functionality to collect payment is available.
  • If the customer has previous interactions on file, the inspector can review data from within the workspace.

During inspection

With features built to support remote field work, virtual service platforms actually allow the inspector to pay more attention rather than taking notes, because a video and transcript will be available for review after the inspection.

  • Prior to the session, the customer or contractor receives a branded SMS invitation to join the call, with no app download or account required.
  • Inspectors can queue and join virtual inspections directly from their workspace.
  • While in the virtual inspection, the inspector can take notes, capture screenshots, add another inspector, zoom in, and toggle their customer’s flashlight on/off.
  • There is an option to self-record an inspection, if the inspector is on site but wants to save and store the inspection within the workspace for review later.
  • The customer or contractor has the option to leave a review and comment for the inspector after the inspection is complete.

Post-inspection

The data gathered from the virtual inspection makes collaboration, paperwork and approval process much more seamless. Field teams have access to additional data insights with no extra effort on their part.

  • The video of the inspection is saved in an organization’s workspace immediately and shareable by link, SMS or email.
  • Teams can search notes and reviews, or filter by specific customers, dates, keywords and tags.
  • A transcript of the call is available to view, copy, or download, making the notetaking and manual writeup process a lot simpler.
  • A dashboard within the workspace shows key metrics like CSAT, Minutes Used, and Distance Saved.

A step in the right direction

Technology will never fully eliminate the need for site visits, but it can greatly reduce them. With a virtual service platform, organizations can employ a hybrid model that allows them to manage their data and documentation in a way that makes sense (and doesn’t require too much manual effort).

The improved collaboration and data insights will boost the experience of the customer, the employee, and the company as a whole.

Support your customers remotely at their time of need

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