One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic for GPS Ontario has been finding a new and more efficient way to serve our precision customers.
It starts with Trimble’s TeamViewer app for Trimble GFX displays. When the display is connected to the internet, the app allows a service technician to see what’s on a farmer’s screen and even push the buttons to configure or calibrate displays remotely.
The COVID-19 pandemic actually gave us the opportunity to use TeamViewer as a training solution. When social distancing restrictions were in place, our service technicians would place a mobile hotspot in the cab if the grower didn’t have a smartphone, get it connected and then sanitize the cab. The tech would then go sit in their truck and train the grower over mobile. It elevated our overall customer experience quite a bit, and it’s something I think we’ll continue post-COVID.
We value this hour of remote training more than generic training videos. Every farm operation is different, and we need to cater to that. We’re still creating some training videos as a starting point and learning resource, but that personalized training is making a big difference in our market. Being able to establish that visual memory with the customer and walk them through the problem helps them stay operational.
Utilizing TeamViewer is also beneficial for our dealership’s business. It has cut our road time by quite a bit. There are a lot of scenarios where we can log into the display remotely and fix the problem. Sometimes you’ll leave the customer’s place, and they’ll change the implement or operation or go into a new field, and the system will perform completely differently. It will need to be fine-tuned, and with TeamViewer, we can make those changes without having to drive back to the farm.
To put it into perspective, we download probably 800-1,000 acres of drainage design per year without having to go to the operation or walk the customer through how to send us the data. Rather than having them export the data to a USB, go into their house to their computer to attach the data as a ZIP file and email it to us, I’ll just log into the screen, grab the file I need and send it back to the grower completed.
The biggest hurdle we’ve had in implementing precision service via TeamViewer on the staff side is making sure all of our service techs have the right equipment to perform remote service. Having the hotspot was one thing, but having the data to back it up meant negotiating our mobile data packages. We quite often go through 25-30 gigs of data per month on the road, and that costs money. As a service technician, we also have to pay for a subscription to have connectivity to the displays. We have to make sure we have enough pipelines for TeamViewer when we have multiple guys on the road.
Retraining our customers to utilize and pay for remote support also has been somewhat of a hurdle. We’ve been creating an invoice, adding a note that describes the service and instructing the grower to call us with questions or concerns. My father, GPS Ontario President and CEO Morley Wallace, has been quick to educate our customers that this is the cost of doing business and a billing procedure we’ve had in place for 4 seasons now.
I see remote precision support as a big game-changer for the agriculture industry, and it’s something we as dealers should be doing more often. I wrote about how GPS Ontario bills for precision phone support and more benefits of using Trimble’s TeamViewer app in this article.