Portal Focus - May/June 2021

FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY IN THE MOVING INDUSTRY

Opinion—Do It for Your Customer

By Wiebe van Bockel, CCO, Voerman Group

Technology Partnerships Improve Transparency and Workflow

April, 2021. I sit behind my computer and wonder, like all of us, how one year has turned so much of what we know upside down. Our industry has taken a big hit and while some may have predicted “survival of the fittest,” I consider this time to be a “survival of the ‘smartest,’” as some companies in our industry have seized the opportunity to review their core processes and discover room for opportunity. I consciously use the word ‘some’ here, as I will explain shortly. Because if there is one thing that has not changed, at least not for the worse, it is our increasing reliance upon technology in our daily work—and in our daily lives. These times have only accelerated the pace at which we have adopted video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype as a replacement for face-to-face meetings. Hence, we even saw the first all-digital IAM Annual Meeting last year.


Are we living up to expectations?

So, where do we find ourselves as an industry in this era of digitalization? In my own personal experience, more often than not, I am surprised with the disconnect between the amount of technology we use and are used to in our daily lives, and the lack of technology in our business as movers. We are comfortable instant messaging with our family and friends through WhatsApp, iMessage and more—but we still use overflowing mail boxes for communication on the status of moves. In recent years, we have grown naturally accustomed to eliminating the need for physical proximity by video calling. Why is it then that our industry has waited to adopt the video survey on a large scale until a global pandemic forced us to? Even though the technology was available long ago in our personal lives, we have continued to pay our clients costly visits for a physical in-home pre-move survey; especially since our customers expect—no, demand—that we choose the 

convenient, digital way.


I recently listened to a podcast by Move4U interviewing my good friend, colleague and industry expert Steve Lewis. In the podcast, Steve explained how before resorting to virtual surveying, he always felt like his customers preferred his surveyors to be on location for an in-person survey. You know, because of personal contact and such. However, after some time working with virtual surveying and going through customer evaluations, he found that the customer actually preferred the timeliness and convenience of virtual surveying. As a result, 97% of their current surveys are now video surveys.


The X-factor

Countless opinions and marketing messages from technology providers have already emphasized the many benefits technology has to offer for your company. A more time-efficient workflow, less administration and reducing errors of loss of information. As you might have figured, I am convinced that the many benefits of technology outweigh some short-term thresholds I hear mentioned frequently, such as implementation times, impact on workflows deeply embedded in the organization or even license costs. I am not saying that these arguments could not be valid for some companies, but by far the biggest argument to make the step towards digitalized workflows would be the customer experience; your customer’s experience with your service should be the ‘X-factor’ of your offering.


We see companies across the world increasing emphasis on the importance of ‘employer branding’ and, more linked to our industry, ‘assignee experience’ in their internal employee policies. But more importantly, at least for our business, this emphasis is also reflected in their procurement policies. Where convenience, availability and accuracy are keywords, and the customer demand of ‘providing the most accessible, timely and precise service’ has received an updated definition with a new generation of assignees. Global Mobility departments and RMCs worldwide are eagerly awaiting our response.


The Value of Data

At The Voerman Group, we have been big advocates of technology and the many applications of digital move data for many years. We are far from perfect and realize technology is only a means to meet customer expectations—but as I hopefully have illustrated in this article, it a very trivial one; at least to us and, more importantly, to our customers.


Technology enables us to do quick, flexible and safe virtual surveying through Move4U’s SurveyVideo solution. This survey data is then automatically synchronized with the customer’s file in the cloud-based RedSky platform so we can assign tasks to our own crews (via the CrewPro digital packing inventory solution) and those of our partners to accurately service the assignee—while simultaneously keeping our account up to date. And, as our accounts increasingly value a greener, more sustainable mobility process, we re-use the data from RedSky to fully offset the CO2 emission of our accounts’ moves via the new and promising ecolegIT platform—all with the same set of data we got from that initial digital survey.


So, if the benefits of technology like increasing efficiency and reducing administration do not push the balance in favor of technology for you, let your customers do it. They will demand nothing less; only more.

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