Face-to-face roadside help available to BMW drivers

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A BMW driver noticed a low-coolant warning light and called the automaker’s customer service line. After a few moments, a video chat window opened on the customer’s smartphone and they were able to speak on camera with someone at a BMW call center. That representative guided the customer down the aisle of an auto parts store to pick out the correct coolant for their vehicle.

Another customer called the service line saying they couldn’t connect the charger cord to the port on their hybrid vehicle.

By using the video chat function and showing the representative the vehicle’s charging port, a small pebble was spotted blocking the charger from locking in. The customer removed it and was able to charge the vehicle.

BMW has partnered with software company Blitzz to bring this new capability to its customers. Think of Blitzz as a specialized FaceTime on steroids.

It’s a live remote video support and inspection system for the customer or a dealership technician working on one of the automaker’s vehicles.

It works without an app but does require an Apple or Android smartphone. A customer calls an 800 number and speaks with a tech center representative.

After asking for the customer’s mobile number, the representative immediately sends a link to the phone. When the customer clicks the link, it turns on the phone’s rearview camera.

“Once the camera turns on, the customer service rep can provide visual empathy,” said Rama Sreenivasan, CEO of Blitzz.

In addition to customers, Sreenivasan said Blitzz can be useful for a service technician tackling a problematic repair in a dealership. If the tech gets stuck, they can connect to a BMW tech center for immediate visual assistance. The experts can then look at things and point and circle items they see to help resolve the problem.

Noel Burris, roadside assistance operation manager at BMW of North America, said the automaker wanted to take its customer service to the next level, beyond just voice.

for a while in an effort to provide another layer of service for our customers,” he said. “After a demonstration, it became clear that Blitzz would be the ideal provider.”

There was no technical adaptation involved, according to Burris. BMW chose Blitzz because the platform included all the features BMW Roadside Assistance planned to offer its customers.

Roadside assistance technicians can use Blitzz to easily help customers with questions about their vehicles, even when they might have difficulty articulating the issue.

“Ultimately, Blitzz helps us provide another level of customer service,” he said. It’s “a tool primarily used to guide customers and help to narrow their concerns.”

BMW Roadside Assistance has an established process for supporting customers with disabled vehicles and can dispatch assistance and even alert emergency services if needed.

So far, the results have proved useful. Since BMW started the program with Blitzz in December 2020, it is receiving between 150 and 200 calls a month. As a result of the visual component of the Blitzz program, Burris said the length of the calls is becoming shorter.

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