The world is in the midst of an intense technology revolution that is transforming every aspect of our lives. Mobile devices, wireless connectivity and the Internet give us instant access to information and simplify many once onerous tasks. But while technology has its place, there are limitations when it comes to customer service industries like relocation. Let’s look at some of the pro’s and con’s of using relocation technology.
Relocation technology has become popular in recent years, with companies depending on the software to help their employees manage all the complexities of relocation. Some advantages of using relocation technology are clear: Record keeping is easier, information is readily accessible, and progress can be tracked.
Here’s the problem: access to information is not the primary challenge facing a family that is relocating! These are human beings with complex concerns, emotions, fears, and aspirations. Asking an algorithm to handle all the issues facing a relocating employee would be like making an appointment with a psychiatrist and arriving to find a robot.
Dealing with major life issues like moving your family requires more than access to Wikipedia or a user forum.
According to HealthStatus, moving is one of the five most stressful experiences in life, along with serious illness, death of a loved one, divorce and job loss. In times of stress, humans need personal contact with other humans who can share their concerns and offer support.
Of course, software is helpful, and Relocity makes use of technology for organization and management. But knowing how to analyze information and make crucial decisions for a particular individual or family requires human insight and experience. Some relocation technology companies do have counselors available by phone in a call center; but, these representatives rarely even live in the target city, and they have a limited relationship with the client.
What is needed is a professional counselor who takes the time to get to know and understand the client and has in-depth knowledge of their future home town.
The Personal Touch
Relocity was created to offer precisely this kind of support. A key component of the Relocity method is to provide each relocating client with a “Personal Host” who is matched to them by common interests and similar demographics. This Personal Host works live, in-person and “on the ground” with the client from the beginning to the end of the relocation process.
Each Personal Host is a relocation professional, expert in project management, with the knowledge to find just the right resources for each unique lifestyle.
Relocity’s founder and CEO, Klaus Siegmann, who himself immigrated to Los Angeles from Germany with his family in 2010, says this personal touch was a major missing ingredient when he was dealing with his own relocation. “What you want is a friend, someone who ‘gets you’, to help navigate life in a new city. Moving is so stressful! Imagine having your own personal assistant to take away the stress and help you find answers.”
This kind of personal touch is impossible with relocation technology.
Hidden Costs of Relocation Technology
At first glance, it might seem that using technology to manage a relocation process would be cheaper than hiring human consultants. A closer look reveals that there are hidden costs associated with relocation technology.
First, companies must pay a licensing fee to gain access to the technology. In addition to this initial cost, most relocation tech companies require clients to use vendors from their own vendor network, or the company is liable for additional charges – not the employee, but the company!
If an employee chooses someone outside the vendor network – say, a friend who is a realtor whom they trust to sell their house – their employer is charged a non-compliance or “referral recovery” fee. These fees can add up to thousands of dollars.
An obvious answer might be to require the employee to use vendors inside the tech company’s vendor network. But how much authority does a company really have to require an employee to choose a particular realtor? After all, the home belongs to the employee, not the company.
The same logic applies to any other vendor. Employees should have the freedom to choose whatever services they need without worrying about unexpected fees.
Cost Comparison with Relocity
While using a relocation concierge service like Relocity might seem more expensive, in many cases, the costs are less. This is because Relocity uses an “on-demand” pricing structure that allows clients to pay only for time spent working on their behalf. And while relocation technology companies add sizeable retail “mark-ups” to vendor costs, Relocity offers transparent pricing with no mark-ups other than an admin fee.
Relocity also offers significant discounts that can offset our fees (with no penalty for going outside of our network). For instance, if a client uses Relocity as their agent when buying a home, we offer a major rebate on closing costs. A rebate also applies when renting listed properties.
Our network moving companies provide clients up to a 60% discount. Discounts also apply when buying furniture, hiring contractors, and even using vendors like dry cleaners, hair stylists or personal trainers.
Practicality and Ease of Use
As I pointed out earlier, relocation technology can be a useful tool if it is used properly. Relocity has worked with clients who use a relocation software concurrently. However, the software is only beneficial if employees are responsible about using it.
Customers of relocation technology companies report that they have found the technology to be difficult and time-consuming to use. Some have said that using the software seemed like an additional chore in their long relocation checklist.
At Relocity, technology is used to track and manage the relocation process, but this responsibility is handled by our staff, not the relocating employee. Companies may also track expenses and other data in real time via the client portal on the Relocity website.
Using a company like Relocity takes away the stress of relocation management rather than adding to it.
The Purpose of Relocation
After all, what is the purpose of providing an employee a relocation benefit to begin with? Presumably, it is because the company wants to retain a valuable asset. The company has invested heavily in this person, asking them to uproot themselves and their family to move to another city – a difficult, risky and stressful undertaking.
Given the risks, certainly it makes sense to provide more support than simply a software package. For companies concerned about tracking data, using relocation technology can provide a useful tool. However, expecting a relocation software alone to handle the complexities of relocating an employee is unrealistic and risky.