Max Kreynin, from Voxme, one of the leading suppliers of video surveying technology, explains the difference between conducting a survey on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp and the real thing.
Virtual surveys have been around for a long time. Voxme unveiled its system back in 2016 but uptake has been, until now, very slow. Everyone said that it was ‘the way forward’, but carried on doing physical visits. Although many movers advertised that they offered virtual surveys, very few invested in a real virtual survey platform; they just used Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting.
We are all on lockdown right now, but that won’t last forever. In some countries, even by the time this article is published, we could see some easing of the restrictions. When that happens, the season will start again: people will still want to move. Whether to maintain social distancing or for commercial reasons, many will decide to make the leap into virtual surveys. When they do it is essential that they invest in proper virtual survey platforms, such as those offered by Voxme, Shyft BuzzSurvey and Virtual Technology: free video conferencing platforms are just not up to the job for movers.
Let’s take a look at the important differences:.
The key to the accurate capture of all the information and avoiding any misunderstanding and confusion about what’s been said and promised during the survey, is reliable recording.
It’s always been important, but now that everybody is on edge, it has become critical. Storing videos on a disk or a storage device becomes very expensive very quickly and the lack of protection makes it impractical. It’s possible to upload videos to Google Drive, Dropbox, etc., but that fills up too and if a shared link falls in the wrong hands, the data is exposed.
2. Invitation by SMS/Email
Virtual surveys are conducted for transferees who aren’t friends or colleagues, so they need to be invited to the video chat through a branded company platform, not a personal or even company phone or Skype. That way the customer has confidence that they are really talking to a representative of the company.
3) Access through a browser
Surveyors need to be able to start the video chat from any device (be it PC, Apple, iOS or Android, company owned or personal) using the mere browser. All social networking or video conferencing apps (WhatsApp, Skype, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting) require an app installed. If a surveyor doesn’t have the app or can’t install it, they can’t do the survey.
4) Slow networks and country regulations
Standard video chats and conferencing platforms require substantial bandwidth, which can’t be controlled especially when transferees are using their home WiFi or slow cellular networks. In some countries, such as the UAE, all popular video chat platforms are blocked. Dedicated virtual survey platforms use adaptive technology that allows surveys to be carried out even when the Internet quality is as bad as 3G.
5. Video viewing and privacy requirements
Videos must be viewable from any browser at any point in time. Videos have to be encrypted at rest with a rolling encryption key to guarantee that no video can be copied to an external device and used outside of the system. Video chats must have a set expiry period and be deleted and purged after the expiry. Video chat hosts must have the ability to delete the video on demand.
6. Interface with back-office system
A video survey platform must have the ability to easily transfer information and photos to the company’s pre-move survey platform. Screenshots simply don’t cut it.
I suspect that a consequence of the pandemic will be an increase in the use of virtual surveys by movers and a growing acceptance of them by customers. Social distancing will become the new norm as well as the need to have a direct video communication with the customers wherever they are. As the trend develops it’s important, both for the reputation of the moving companies, and the whole industry, that the technology works and is secure. It’s only by using a platform designed specifically for the moving industry that this can be reliably achieved.
Video surveys have been around for a long time