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SurveyBot set to revolutionise home surveys

Oct 12, 2016
For many movers, personal contact and physical in-home surveys are the cornerstone of their business: but is it time to think again?

California-based technology company Crater has launched a revolutionary new product that will enable customers to conduct their own pre-move survey over video chat and get a quote for their relocation without a removals specialist needing to visit in person. SurveyBot is the brainchild of former relocation surveyor Daniela Alpert and her husband Alex, who also worked for many years at the sharp end of the removals industry. 

Daniela explained how the idea for their new company Crater and its product SurveyBot was born. “I was working as a surveyor and would often spend hours travelling to and from a client’s home to carry out a survey that would only take a relatively short time to complete.  I thought there must be a better way, one that would reduce costs for the removals company and at the same time eliminate the ‘pain point’ of the appointment for the client.” 

Self-surveys are of course nothing new, but the problem has always been the inevitable discrepancies between what the customer records on the inventory and the actual quantity of goods to be moved. The contents of the garage or loft for example, or the number of suits and dresses in a wardrobe are often forgotten or wrongly assessed. With SurveyBot a virtual face-to-face interaction is established between the customer and the moving company’s surveyor via a smartphone or tablet.   

Under the direction of the surveyor the customer moves from room to room recording the items to be relocated; including the contents of cupboards and draws, etc. Any items that may require special attention, such as a piano or tropical fish tank, or objects that may require specialist equipment are also recorded so that an accurate estimate can be calculated. 

Crater has partnered with removals industry software specialist Voxme to integrate SurveyBot with its web estimator application. Voxme’s Managing Director Max Kreynin said, “We allow the ease of capturing and updating relevant survey information over suitable channels - that’s the most important aspect for us; it’s what we focus on and we look for partners with a similar outlook, hence the collaboration with Crater.” 

Crater believes that the customer is actually more engaged during video surveys than in physical home surveys. CEO Alex Alpert said, “Crater’s mission is to preserve the art and passion that has fuelled hundreds of generational businesses. Moving is a very personal experience that requires a tremendous amount of trust between the customer and the moving company. Face-to-face interaction is at the core of developing this trust and we do so through video." 

The idea of using video technology to carry out surveys rather than the time honoured face-to-face approach will not appeal to everyone, but in an industry where margins are continually being squeezed the cost saving cannot be ignored. Crater estimates that in the US a typical survey costs around $240, a significant slice of an average move. Crater has reduced this amount significantly. There are other advantages too. Customers can schedule a video survey online at a time that is most convenient for them by simply clicking on the SurveyBot widget on the homepage of a moving company's website. This information is integrated with the moving company's appointment calendar instantly and should the customer schedule outside normal working hours, an outsourced option is available where Crater does the video survey with the customer on the moving company’s behalf, 24/7.  

Crater charges $20 per transaction conducted by the removals company or $50 for its outsourced service. Automated cubing and delivery of precise inventory sheets or volume estimates (sent in 4 hours or less) cost an additional $40. 

SurveyBot has no geographic boundaries and is accessible anywhere an adequate broadband connection is available. Currently, Crater is able to conduct surveys in English, French, Italian, German and Serbian languages from its offices located around the US and Europe. There is no annual license fee; training and online consultation is free, as is the implementation of the SurveyBot widget for moving companies wishing to use this service. 

 “The SurveyBot software is easy to use but people sometimes have a little trouble feeling comfortable being on camera until they get used to it,” said Daniela. “It’s just a case of practice makes perfect.” 

Crater is offering a free, no obligation, 14-day trial with unlimited usage for movers wishing to evaluate the service. 

Photo: Daniela & Alex Alpert 

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