Technology has always been a critical driver of successful moving companies. While some movers still cling to whiteboard planning and customer folders, the majority of the industry have adopted moving software, tools and CRMs. Now, companies on the cutting edge of moving technology are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) in multiple departments, including sales, customer service, and operations. We’ll break down what artificial intelligence looks like in 2021, its practical applications in the moving industry, and how AI will continue to advance moving in the future.
What Exactly is AI? Isn't That Killer Robot Stuff?
The term artificial intelligence may trigger images of sci-fi sentient automatons with a desire to destroy mankind. However, artificial intelligence has existed in the real world in some form since World War II. In 1950 Alan Turing, “The Father of AI,” introduced the idea that artificial intelligence is an entity capable of interacting with a human agent, without the human realizing they are communicating with AI. Now, you likely utilize this technology in your life daily.
A simple definition of artificial intelligence is computer software built to perform tasks that customarily requires human intelligence, intentionality, and adaptability. Here’s how it works: software analyzes inputs, such extensive datasets and its environment. Then, algorithms make classifications, decisions, and predictions based on the information.
As an algorithm repeats these processes, it undergoes “machine learning” by identifying patterns in the data and improving its performance at the task, despite not being specifically programmed to do so. The result is computer programs capable of solving problems, making recommendations, and performing actions.
Artificial intelligence is not a far-off technology, you are already utilizing it in the real world to make processes more efficient, automate tasks, and make decisions. Here are some common examples of AI in your life:
- Your credit card texts you a fraud alert when a purchase is made outside your usual spend amounts or geographies.
- Netflix recommends shows for your Friday night chill based on the genre characteristics of your previous television viewing.
- Google personalizes your searches to your current location.
- Siri, Alexa, and other voice assistants use natural language processing to communicate, perform tasks, provide information, and place shopping orders.
How AI Can Give Your Company & Moving Software Superpowers
Many moving companies are already utilizing artificial intelligence in their business. Here’s ways you can implement artificial intelligence into your moving company today, and insight into how AI will revolutionize the industry in the near future.
AI to Scale Move Coordination & Customer Service
Moving customer service is more complex than other industries. Every shipment is unique, coordinators must involve several parties in the process, and it’s all heightened by the stress and emotions associated with moving. Quality companies set themselves apart with a high level of service, so equipping experienced move coordinators with resources is critical to success.
Moving representatives get bogged down answering simple questions about the move process, details, and status. AI chatbots can answer FAQs any time of day or night, extending customer service availability. Meanwhile voice-activated answering services can direct customers with more complex inquiries to your experienced customer service team. Out-of-the-box chatbot solutions are available, or can be built using tools such as Genesys or BotKit. Chatbots are actually preferred to real-life customer service by 63% of customers (Mindshare), and chatbots responded to 85% of all customer service interactions in 2020 (Gartner). Is your moving company among that number?
Artificial intelligence can also optimize and expedite move coordination. Programs can utilize set criteria to automatically schedule leads and move surveys to sales reps. When the move is booked, systems can also assign the best drivers, origin, and destination agents according to availability, routes, and proximity. In the event of a claim, AI can analyze the damage and recommend a resolution. Solutions already exist to make your moving company team’s job easier, and your customers’ experience better.
AI for Completing an In-House Virtual Survey for Moving & Improving Sales Ratios
Move quotes are traditionally based on in-home surveys of the customer’s home and belongings. The surveys take about 1-3 hours to complete depending on drive time, the size of the home, and number of belongings. In-home move surveys collect critical information, but are expensive, time consuming for the moving company, and inconvenient for the customer. Many moving companies have begun adopting phone or FaceTime virtual surveys. The use of these survey methodologies accelerated during the pandemic when it became necessary to minimize in-person interactions.
The efficiency of virtual surveys for moving increases exponentially when integrated with AI. Yembo is the moving industry artificial intelligence leader, and has created a user-friendly virtual survey platform. AI directs the customer to conduct a virtual survey on their own utilizing a mobile device. The software identifies furniture and packing needs, and calculates a cube sheet inventory for the sales representative’s review. The sales representative can then further utilize AI to expedite pricing the move. AI decreases the total survey and quoting time from over an hour to a few minutes.
For customers and sales representatives who prefer guided virtual surveys similar to FaceTime, Yembo offers an AI-augmented option that creates the inventory sheet in real time. Either option allows sales reps to quote more than 3x the number of customers, maximizing their time and increasing revenue.
AI-powered virtual surveys provide faster turnaround time for the quote, and increased convenience for the customer to easily conduct the survey any time day or night. In fact, in 2020, moving customers who utilized AI move surveys booked 39% more and were 50% more satisfied with the pre-move process.
AI To Power Self-Driving Trucks and Increase Moving Driver Capacity
The household goods driver shortage has been a critical obstacle plaguing the moving industry. The trucking industry was short nearly 61,000 drivers in 2018, a shortage 20% higher than the previous year (American Trucking Association).The decreasing number of professional over-the-road drivers severely impacts the number of moves companies are able to service during peak season. In addition to revenue lost to capacity limitations, drivers need frequent driving breaks and must adhere to hour of service rules, which slows the transport of customers’ belongings between origin and destination. Self-driving trucks powered by artificial intelligence is the solution to the moving industry driver shortage.
While driverless vehicles once only existed on The Jetsons, autonomous cars and trucks are already on the road. Many personal vehicles, including Tesla, already feature autopilot driving. Autonomous trucking company TuSimple uses supervised self-driving commercial vehicles to haul goods through the Southwest. Even standard vehicles utilize AI for navigation with real-time traffic updates and in backup cams.
Analysts predict 8 million autonomous vehicles will be shipped in 2025 alone (ABI research), and that number will certainly include household goods moving trucks. JK Moving is one of the first moving companies to invest in AI-powered driverless moving trucks. The mover has ordered at least six local and ten long-haul self-driving moving trucks from Tesla. Moving companies that invest in driverless trucks will have a jump on the increased capacity and revenue, allowing movers to allocate resources to hire and train high-quality local crews.
AI Reduces Error in Operations Planning & Move Day Management
Operations management efficiency can make or break a moving company’s profitability. Operations planners must take care to optimize driving routes, properly match movers’ skill sets to move assignments, and balance overtime and margins. On move day, operations departments have their hands full tracking crews and managing quality. On-site, move crew foreman are executing the expectations set by the front-end sales team and trying to provide proper documentation. In some movers’ operations departments, these processes still take place on giant white boards and document files. Many movers now utilize moving software to plan crew schedules. Moving technology can utilize AI in 2021 to enhance crew schedules, profitability, and a seamless communication flow from the start to the end of the move.
AI-powered algorithms can maximize mover capacity by predicting the season’s move volume based on previous years’ resource data, real estate trends, and sales metrics. This would inform moving companies of the exact volume of crews to hire and resources to order. When it’s time to make the schedule, AI can synthesize the day’s moving resource requirements and match available crews to jobs based on availability, proximity, and skills. After dispatch, operations teams could apply AI to track crew locations, predict arrival times, and diagnose vehicle malfunctions. The result is a moving crew workforce optimized to full capacity and profitability. On the customer side, AI-powered planning would decrease delays and increase crew quality.
Moving crews can also utilize artificial intelligence tools, such as Yembo MoveDay. Movers can utilize AI to automatically and quickly inventory household goods and document and visually identify their condition for a flawless audit trail. This technology reduces the number of claims, and the amount of time required to resolve loss or damage.
In the future, AI could produce even more moving operations innovations, such as automatons capable of packing in clients homes, or self-operating forklifts to manage warehouses.
Why Should My Company Use AI Technology Now?
Artificial intelligence already has a multitude of applications across the moving industry, and AI-powered technology we can’t yet imagine will someday transform moving. The time to start implementing artificial intelligence into your moving company is now. 37% of organizations used AI in the workplace in 2019 (Gartner), and 54% of executives say AI has already increased productivity in their workplace (PWC). Your moving company’s processes are currently bogged down by human error, your limited talent is wasting time on repetitive tasks, and poor decisions are being made due to lack of clear, rational information. Your moving company could gain a critical advantage by being an early adopter of artificial intelligence.