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With more and more lone workers already equipped with the technology to contact one another via video, why aren’t more companies making the most of the opportunity? Paul White, CEO of mplsystems, outlines the advantages of web chat for

workers in the field. We’ve already seen technologies such as cloud, mobile, social media and self-service start to extend the capabilities of lone workers in the field, however, one that has had less focus until now is the increasing use of web chat.

Field service operations have traditionally struggled to unite two key elements: the technical expertise of their lone workers or field-based engineers with the availability of their service desks. Not surprisingly, engineers are always busy – either travelling to a customer location or already engaged onsite.

With multi-way web chat, however, it is possible to bring field engineers and the service desk together. Service agents can now bring other experts from any department into their customer conversations, and – through mobiles and customer service apps – bring in field-based engineers from any location.

Web chat is one of the most rapidly growing channels – particularly among younger customers. As well as providing an additional channel for customers to check for updates and advice from the service desk, chat is now set to play an increasingly important role within field service management.

Examples of how chat can be put to work include helping field staff to exchange best practice, and also connecting customers directly to field staff to speed resolution. Chat can enable direct communications between field staff, allowing them to use mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets to create conversation threads to share knowledge on recent issues and exchange resolution tips.


Chat can also be put to use as part of an integrated customer service approach. When clients are speaking to a service desk agent and need further assistance, the agent can quickly open up a three-way chat session with the appropriate expert field service engineer. Often client issues can be resolved in this way without the field service professional actually needing to visit the client site.


For organisations looking to add chat to their service management portfolio, it’s important to look for solutions that can extend the value of their existing systems approach. Key functionality should include the ability for service centre agents to conduct multiple chats, chat conferencing, as well as the ability to integrate with knowledge bases and FAQs.

While chat can be deployed on a standalone basis, it delivers optimum value as part of broader multi-channel universal queue approach – ideally accessible from the service desk via a streamlined service agent desktop. Implemented correctly, chat increases choice for customers, and opens up the opportunity to link directly with service experts who can resolve client requests quickly and cost-effectively.


3D MAPPING A new Google project, launched last month, aims to give mobile devices the ability to understand their location in a room, offering the prospect of mapping interiors or measuring work spaces with just a phone.

Johnny Lee, the leader of ‘Project Tango’, described how, combined with special software, Google’s new phone is able “to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment”.

Having created the hardware and basic software, the company is now looking for third parties to build on top of the platform. We’ve seen how smartphones have made web chat more accessible to lone workers – now imagine lone workers feeding back a 3D visualisation of their working environment.

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