The novel coronavirus is complicating how Verizon (NYSE:VZ) does business.
Last month, Verizon reported that the rise in housebound customers working from home has resulted in a huge surge in calls and texts coming in to its tech support centers -- 800 million calls coming in every weekday, and with gabbier customers on the other end wanting to talk longer than they used to. This month, the company added that it's now fielding about twice as many calls daily as it used to get on its busiest days of the year.
Last week, Verizon informed customers it will no longer be doing Fios installs in customer homes, so as to avoid person-to-person contact that might spread COVID-19 -- at least not until this viral outbreak abates. (Self-install options are still available.)
Today, Verizon announced it's trying out a new solution to deal with the flood of customer requests for tech support. The company is launching a new "virtual assistant tech tool" from start-up TechSee, which will allow technicians to directly advise customers how to fix glitches at home, without the techs having to enter the home.
Upon receiving a tech support call, Verizon will send the customer a text with a link that, once clicked, will establish a connection between technician and customer. Technicians will be able to look through a customer's smartphone camera, see the equipment, and talk the customer through how to fix a problem. Technicians will even be able to mark-up photos with directions written on them, and send such visual advice back to the customer.
"This new tool gives us the ability to provide the excellent service our customers deserve while keeping them and our technicians safe," Verizon said.