On the Scene at GSX: ADT says new Virtual Assistance program boosting efficiency, savings

Sept. 13, 2022
The program is aimed at cutting back in-person service calls

Many security companies at this week’s GSX show who serve residential customers likely have dealt with increasing demand for services and the higher costs of providing it.

The COVID-19 pandemic also forced many companies to re-examine the dynamic of home service calls.

But ADT has rolled out a virtually based service program for residential customers that the company says pays big dividends in terms of cost savings, efficiency and customer satisfaction.

ADT’s Program

ADT launched Virtual Assistance, a program billed to provide increased flexibility for appointment scheduling and faster resolution of many service demands without having to send a technician to the home every time.

The program provides an option for customers who prefer to replace or add smart home-security devices to their existing ADT systems or to troubleshoot device issues themselves through remote video guidance provided by ADT technical specialists.

Appointments are conducted using a customer’s smart phone, which allows ADT specialists to hold a two-way video conversation with customers and guide them through common tasks without having to schedule an in-home visit.

Customers can order new devices from ADT by phone and have them shipped directly to their home. During their Virtual Assistance installation appointment, an ADT specialist can provide step-by-step live video guidance to help customers to replace or add new devices to their ADT smart home-security system.

Additional program details:

  • More-flexible scheduling: ADT Virtual Assistance requires a 30-minute time window and often can be booked the same day. Expanded service time windows from 8 a.m.–11 p.m. ET, Monday–Saturday and 8 a.m.–6 p.m. ET Sunday provide more options for customers to schedule a virtual appointment.
  • Customer savings: For ADT Virtual Assistance, ADT waives the site-assessment fee typically required for in-home technician visits.
  • Improved customer know-how: By operating virtually alongside an ADT specialist, the company says, customers will learn more about the full capabilities of their ADT system.

Since the ADT Virtual Assistance pilot launched in 2021, the company says it has seen many positive results. From October 2021 to June 2022, ADT conducted 440,000 fewer vehicle trips when ADT Virtual Assistance was used instead of an in-person visit. That equates to a reduction of nearly 8,000 tons of greenhouse-gas emissions.

In the pilot phase, Virtual Assistance accounted for more than 40% of ADT’s service appointments and enabled ADT specialists to help customers from virtually anywhere in the U.S., working from locations and times that fit their individual workstyles.

A ‘perfect storm’

Jesse Coomber, ADT’s vice president of operations, says a variety of factors led to ADT’s decision to create the virtual service program, including the 3G sunset, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting snapback of demand for home-security services. Coomber says trying to send a technician to every service call was becoming inefficient and costly.

“In hindsight, I don’t know that every customer really wanted a truck. I think they would have been just as happy with someone giving them some dedicated time to help them solve a problem,” he says.

“And there were certainly some people that didn’t want us in their house at all. So, it was a perfect storm of different things that worked out in a really good way.”

Coomber says ADT realized that some customers don’t want to use virtual technology and just want a technician sent out, but from a financial standpoint, doing service calls for free wasn’t sustainable.

So, the company amended its service plan. It now charges $59 for an on-site assessment while offering Virtual Assistance calls for free. The program is built for about 80,000 virtual appointments per month, but in a short period, that figure already has been met.

ADT has worked with a company whose software allows customers to use their smartphone to point to different parts of their system so the online technician can see the problem. Coomber adds that the program is attractive for older technicians who want to reduce their time on the road or for those who want to do something different.

The virtual program also has saved the company millions of dollars in vehicle operations, overhead and lost productivity rolling from one residence to the next.

“It’s relatively expensive, and it’s not going to be any cheaper to keep technicians out there rolling around all day long,” Coomber says.

To learn more, visit ADT Commercial at Booth No. 2143 at the Georgia World Congress in Atlanta.

John Dobberstein is managing editor of SecurityInfoWatch.com.

About the Author

John Dobberstein | Managing Editor/SecurityInfoWatch.com

John Dobberstein is managing editor of SecurityInfoWatch.com and oversees all content creation for the website. Dobberstein continues a 34-year decorated journalism career that has included stops at a variety of newspapers and B2B magazines. He most recently served as senior editor for the Endeavor Business Media magazine Utility Products.