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Elevating the Employee Relocation Experience through the Right Balance of Self-Service and Human Support

Jeff Mills, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, SIRVA Worldwide Relocation & Moving
Jeff Mills, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, SIRVA Worldwide Relocation & Moving

Jeff Mills, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, SIRVA Worldwide Relocation & Moving

Today, we expect to be able to do everything on our smartphones. We want answers immediately and may even become annoyed when we have to make a call regarding things we feel we should be able to handle ourselves. It’s not that we don’t want to talk to people, we just want to do it on our own terms, knowing someone is there if we decide we need them. Further complicating matters, the right balance between self-service and human support is different for everyone. These expectations exist everywhere in our lives, including the world of corporate relocation. When employers provide opportunities for their employees to relocate, it’s typically a vote of confidence, recognized as an investment in their future. It can also present a stressful burden for the employee and family if not appropriately managed. A smooth relocation sets a favorable tone for the new job before it’s even begun. With this in mind, it’s important to find the right balance between self-service and human support to provide a positive employee experience during the moving process.

Technology and Customer Service: People Want (and Need) Both

Depending on a person’s preferences, consumers want technology and quick answers when they want them, and access to a live person when they need one in every industry. When searching for a home, for example, individuals often research housing options online but contact a real estate agent when they’re ready to see top choices in person. We research cars online, but, once we’ve narrowed our choices down, we visit dealerships to test drive them. We like to have a sense of control over our investments, but also want access to expert advice.

  Companies have a variety of choices regarding methods and programs to use when managing their employee moves – and each method comes with its own set of challenges. Striking the right balance between technology and human support is key, across our industry, to meeting those challenges  

People’s expectations are no different when it comes to relocation. Our clients’ employees want to review their policies themselves but speak to a consultant when they have questions. They want to be able to log into a platform and monitor progress but have access to assistance. They’d like to initiate services on their own but know that a live person is available when they’re confused, they anticipate an issue, or need guidance. 

Thanks to the intricacies of dozens of components, employee relocation is challenging under the best of circumstances. Countries have their own norms and rapidly changing compliance requirements. There is a myriad of individuals and vendors that assist with school searches for children, the moving of household goods, and area orientations; a provider that may be best suited to help an employee in one location may not be the best for an employee in another, depending on skill-set and reach. Meeting the deadline for one significant milestone may depend on the successful completion of the milestone before. What’s more, employees that are managing their own moves need to navigate through it all, often without any familiarity with the process or their geographic destination. 

Ultimately, technology in the world of relocation is most helpful when it’s used to enhance a relocation management company’s (RMC’s) customer service function rather than replace it. This should be at the heart of any RMC’s philosophy and technological development. For example, to meet the high standards of consumer self-service expectations described above, we recently launched a unique application, iMOVE, designed to meet the growing challenges in our industry: to simplify the relocation process for employees, provide them with needed guidance, enhance visibility for employers, and ensure communication between all stakeholders. We’re finding that users appreciate the freedom and control of a self-guided experience that provides them with quick access to funds, research and planning tools, the ability to book services directly, and exclusive, in-app discounts to stretch their budgets. At any point during the process, they can also access a live employee for assistance. We’ve extended this balance of technology and human support throughout our scope of services to meet a growing expectation within the industry. 

Companies have a variety of choices regarding methods and programs to use when managing their employee moves – and each method comes with its own set of challenges. Striking the right balance between technology and human support is key, across our industry, to meet those challenges. When employees are given a lump sum to manage their own moves, they benefit by easily drawing against a budget, being reimbursed for expenses paid, and initiating services that the RMC will pay for. When companies manage the relocations, mobility teams need access to rich data so they can track, learn, and plan for future moves. They need visibility and flexibility that allows them to react quickly since external influencers in our industry can be mercurial. Rapidly-changing geopolitical and market landscapes, high client standards, technological advancements, and resulting individual expectations regarding that technology have all converged to create demands on relocation management companies: We’re tasked with evolving just as quickly, providing our clients with technology when they want it and superior human support when they need it. 

See Also:

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