Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Our job as a product team at PerchPeek is to make products that ultimately sustain our business, and being customer obsessed is the only way we know how to do this.
Being a product-led company we know that in order to build a strong product we have to understand intimately the biggest challenges, issues and concerns that RMCs face on a daily basis, and our mechanism to do this is via the RMC Innovation Labs program. One of the bigger challenges that RMCs consistently report during the Innovation Labs Program are the high cost of temporary accommodation solutions, and in the below article I will outline how we went about saving clients a huge £3,600 per employee relocation, without sacrificing the high touch-point relocation experience which we believe assignees deserve.
What is the Innovation Labs Program?
The PerchPeek Innovation Labs program is a collaborative experience between PerchPeek, RMCs and some of the very best minds within the Global Mobility industry to create a truly unique digital relocation experience. RMCs get real input into the solutions we develop, (and this is most certainly not just lip service), ensuring that we are helping them meet their own business objectives, and those of their clients. We are lucky enough to be already collaborating with some brilliant people, from a number of the leading RMCs in the market so I wanted to provide some insights in to what actually happens during the program, how we look at solving some of the biggest business problems that RMCs experience, and the types of creatives solutions that we have implemented already during the program.
How it works?
The Innovation Labs Program follows a simple four-step process:
Discovery > Prototype & Test > Early Bird Access > Full Launch
The PerchPeek product team collaborate directly with RMCs to get a greater understanding of what their core pain-points and business challenges are at this moment in time. We use a number of what we call discovery techniques, to unearth and discuss these challenges such as;
Customer Interviews: This might sound simple but 1:1 customer interviews are still one of the most powerful techniques we use today. They are consistently the best source of inspiration and ideas for our products. With every single customer interview, we have the opportunity to gain invaluable insights and get a deeper understanding of the stresses and strains which RMCs run into on a daily basis.
Observations: We work with RMC account managers and service delivery personnel to get a proper understanding of what it takes to successfully relocate an assignee in the most streamlined and efficient way. Getting a front-row seat and observing how and when RMCs interact with their clients and assignees, gives us the ability to unearth opportunities where technology can solve specific business problems and provide additional value to the end user.
Concierge Test; No-one knows their business and market better than RMCs themselves and we most certainly do not try and second guess or pretend we know any better. So a great way for us to learn more about the intricacies of the role of an RMC is by learning from them. The idea of a Concierge Test is that the RMC teach us how they work, how they do their job, so that we can focus on providing them with creative technology solutions that will make their life easier, and free up key RMC personnel to work on more strategic based opportunities internally and with their clients.
Finally, we ask Why….a lot! Here is a video representation of what this looks like in real life :) We follow a problem solving technique called the 5 Why's. Sakichi Toyoda, the Japanese industrialist, inventor and founder of Toyota Industries, developed the 5 Whys technique way back in the 1930s. It became popular in the 1970s and Toyota still uses it to solve problems today. In essence, the idea behind the 5 Whys is most certainly not to be annoying but it is to drill down into a given business problem or issue to figure out what the root cause actually is. If we know the root cause, then we have a fighting chance of being able to come up with creative technology solutions to solve that specific problem.
2. Prototype and Test
When we agree with an RMC on what their core challenges are, we bring them into the design and development stage with us - we don't just leave them sitting outside in the rain. This stage of the process is where our brilliant team of product designers and software engineers analyze the aforementioned challenges and come up with creative solutions that help solve a specific problem for RMCs and their clients. We do not just ask for their opinion on certain issues and then go off for 3 or 6 months and build a piece of technology in a vacuum. We create what we call prototypes at a rapid rate (prototypes can be created in a couple of hours in some cases) and get them back into the hands of the RMC to get their feedback and to make sure that our proposed solution solves a real business problem for them. We will rinse and repeat this process until we get it just right.
3. Early Bird Access
One of the big perks about being on the Innovation Labs program is that RMC participants and their clients get first and exclusive access to any new technology solutions that we develop. This is a big win for RMCs as it shows clients that they are constantly promoting innovation and constantly on the lookout for cheaper, faster and more efficient ways to manage their relocation programs, without compromising on the quality of support provided. We have found this to be super important when it comes to RFPs and contract renewals. RMCs will have the ability to trial new technology live with a select number of clients, all the while supported by the PerchPeek product team.
4. Full Launch
When RMCs have tested a new technology with a select group of trial clients, we will then support them to roll this technology out globally. If there are certain elements of feedback or improvements which we might need to make based on client feedback we will do that before the full launch takes place. This is a key element to the collaborative approach that we promote within PerchPeek. Once this solution is in place we rinse and repeat, moving on to the next big challenge that RMCs are experiencing at that moment in time. It is a case of continuously improving and looking for opportunities for RMCs to provide additional support to their clients.
Practice what you Preach!
It is all well and good, me waxing lyrical about how great the Innovation Labs are but the proof is really in the pudding. So below I have outlined an example for a specific business problem which we unearthed during the Innovation Labs program. I explain how we worked collaboratively with RMCs to solve this specific problem, which is now resulting in huge cost savings for their clients.
RMC Business Problem:
One of the core challenges that RMCs continuously raise during the Innovation Labs Program is that their clients are always keen to tighten the purse strings and reduce spend on their mobility program. One of our key findings was that consistently the cost of temporary accommodation (along with household goods), was the biggest spend item across all mobility programs. So we thought, let's take a look at why this is the case in a little bit more detail;
We found that in most scenarios employers will pay for 30 days temporary accommodation for an assignee who is moving to a new location. Even on the lowest scale, and in most locations, the average cost of temporary accommodation was approximately £100 per night.
The obvious solution here would be to help employers source cheaper accommodation, right? But that generally just becomes a race to the bottom and the last thing we want to do is have assignees staying in cheap accommodation in an unsafe area. Not exactly a good first impression in their new location!
We then started to ask ourselves questions like;
Why do employees need temporary accommodation?
Was there a way to completely remove the need for temporary accommodation?
Why couldn't assignees just book long-term accommodation before they arrive in their new location?
This is when we began to focus our attention on the idea of providing assignees with the ability to conduct virtual property viewings directly from the PerchPeek app. This could be done weeks in advance of their arrival in their new location, thus removing the need for temporary accommodation altogether. The result being; huge cost savings for clients.
It sounds so easy, but there were a number of core problems/obstacles that we had to overcome to make this solution a reality;
1. Historically the technology used to conduct virtual viewings was in simple terms, rubbish!
Luckily in the last couple of years technology such as Matterport (and PerchPeek!) have advanced significantly. Not only with regards to exploring the inside of a property and the overall user experience but it is also now possible to conduct a virtual tour of neighbourhoods. This helps to get a proper feel of where the assignee will be living, how they would get to and from the office, and where the best cafe's, bars and grocery stores are located.
2. Estate Agents were reluctant to rent to someone without physically getting to meet them;
If there has been one positive thing to come out of Covid, it has been that estate agents and landlords have begun to get more comfortable with the concept of virtual viewings. Especially in situations where companies like PerchPeek have pre-vetted and cross referenced tenant ID and reference documentation.
3. Did assignees actually want to book somewhere virtually without physically seeing the property or surrounding area?
To understand this further we did some research with assignees in which we are currently helping to relocate. Over the space of 2 weeks we interviewed 75 assignees and 60% of those advised that they would prefer to book long-term accommodation virtually before they arrived, citing that they didn't want the hassle of moving twice in a short period of time as the main driver. Indeed, since the beginning of the covid pandemic began in the UK, virtual viewings have been on absolute fire with a 215% spike in requests from searchers. We were also able to mitigate against any concerns around the assignee not physically seeing the surrounding area of their chosen property, by introducing our interactive destination guides. As well as giving assignees access to our local area field consultants who have intimate knowledge of neighborhoods in their specialized locations.
4. How would we manage Right to Rent checks if the assignee is not physically in the location?
Again, one major impact on the market due to covid, is that there are now frameworks in place for right to rent checks to be carried out virtually in the majority of locations. Digital documentation checks and video interviews have become an accepted form of submission for right to rent. The assignee's PerchPeek relocation manager will now be able to help manage this process for the assignee from start to finish.
Because we have been able to overcome the aforementioned obstacles we have already gone live with our virtual viewing technology exclusively with our RMC partners, which is already proving successful. One example of this in action is via this case study where we helped Mattia who was relocating with Amazon, secure a property utilizing our virtual viewing technology. The result of this was a saving of £3,600 for the client. Below was some feedback from Mattia on his overall experience with virtual viewings and the PerchPeek service;
“I had to find accommodation in a short period of time and virtually. Luckily the Perchpeek app and team helped me a lot! If you have to move to another city, I highly recommend Perchpeek,
RMCs are already reporting that their clients are responding extremely positively to these early results, as it provides opportunities for traditionally under-supported demographics such as interns, graduates, personal moves and lump sum movers to receive relocation assistance. This results in RMCs becoming further ingrained in their clients mobility function and increases the overall volume of assignees in which they manage. There is also further opportunities for RMCs to help clients re-invest those cost savings back in to their mobility programs through services such as language and cross-cultutaral training, as well as settling-in and spouse support.
We do have a limited number of RMCs that we can accommodate on the RMC Innovation Labs program at any one time, but if you would like your RMC to be represented or you would just like further information please feel free to contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss in greater detail.