A home should be a refuge, but when it comes time to move, our most important space can become a source of overwhelming stress.
Planning logistics, communicating with movers, and setting up your new space are notoriously challenging: research shows about one in five Americans think moving is more stressful than planning a wedding, and one in 10 would compare it to a week in jail.
While that might seem a bit dramatic, it illustrates how intensely people hate the traditional moving process—and with an average of 40 million Americans relocating each year, there’s no lack of demand for innovative alternatives.
Leveraging their experience in computer vision and software engineering, Yembo co-founders Zach Rattner and Siddharth Mohan decided to meet that demand by building an innovative solution for moving companies to seamlessly engage with their customers.
Through their powerful AI technology and partnership with Twilio, Yembo has become a leader in the moving industry’s digital transformation.
Yembo’s founders set out to bring ease and transparency to the moving industry through cutting-edge technology. While that may seem straightforward, it was a major challenge given how complicated and traditional the industry can be.
“The reason there are so many problems in home services is because you generally need a trained expert to visually inspect the location and individual items to understand what the job entails,” said Rattner, Yembo’s CTO.
The team focused on the difficulties customers and movers face when cataloguing every object that needs to be moved and ensuring the team is prepared to package and transport all of it safely. According to Rattner, an accurate visual representation of items being moved is critical because coordinators, dispatchers, and managers need to see exactly what has to be done to plan accordingly.
That visual information has traditionally been collected via in-person visits that are a pain to schedule, and phone calls that can require a customer to spend up to two hours monotonously cataloguing the items in their home in writing.
Yembo’s team created an easy, self-serve alternative: a product that allows customers to survey their home through videos recorded and uploaded on their own time, which are then analyzed by Yembo's proprietary technology using deep learning and visual object tracking to create an accurate digital visual inventory list.
That solution alone was already a huge advancement in the customer experience, but the team was committed to pushing for even more innovation in the moving process. According to Rattner, new concerns introduced by the pandemic were a huge impetus for advancement: “In the era of COVID, we wanted to build a streamlined way for movers to communicate with their customers in real time that exceeded everyone’s expectations and kept them safe.”
Thanks to Yembo's AI, we’re seeing an hour-long phone call being streamlined down to 15 minutes on a Smart Consult.
Yembo’s new product would need to build upon their last to create a more interactive, personalized experience. “We wanted the process to feel like a concierge service. The person moving should feel taken care of every step of the way,” said Tiana Hayden, a Yembo senior software engineer.
To create that concierge experience, Yembo dreamt up Smart Consult: a patent-pending guided video survey tool that would connect movers with customers in real time while their AI performed its cataloguing function simultaneously.
Noel Kennebeck, also a senior software engineer at Yembo, explained that there was plenty of uncertainty in the early stages of the development process: "When we started out we didn’t even know if a product like Smart Consult would be possible.”
There were a few major challenges to overcome: the video chat between mover and customer would need to be hosted via web browser instead of an app; it would require a stable, high-quality feed for the AI to function; and it would have to be light enough on battery use that a mobile device wouldn’t die halfway through the process.
Through integrating Twilio Programmable Video APIs with their own AI tech, the team was able to create a video solution for Smart Consult that could reliably meet all of those needs and more.
The user experience is incredibly simple: once an appointment is scheduled, customers receive a link via Twilio Programmable Messaging that can take them directly to a video call in their web browser with just one click, no third-party apps or downloads required.
On the call itself, the mover and customer can collaborate to get the most accurate data while the AI does all of the heavy lifting of identifying objects and determining what packing materials are needed. “Twilio’s Programmable Video API gives our AI the high quality feed it needs to provide our customers the most accurate inventory possible,” Kennebeck said.
The call includes interactive elements where both parties can view the information collected by the AI and update it as-needed to ensure every detail is perfect, cutting down on even more time. “Thanks to Yembo's AI, we’re seeing an hour-long phone call being streamlined down to 15 minutes on a Smart Consult,” Rattner said.
Twilio Programmable Video’s recording capabilities enable these calls to be kept for later reference, and the Recording Composition API allows for audio and video files to be stitched together seamlessly.
Movers no longer have to face unexpected surprises about what’s getting packed up, and customers know exactly what’s included in their quoted price—keeping all parties on the same page and ensuring a smooth, high-quality experience.
The companies and customers who’ve used Yembo’s Smart Consult solution have been shown the undeniable value of innovative customer engagement solutions—and so has the rest of the moving industry.
Using Twilio APIs allowed Yembo to create this innovative experience with few of the roadblocks they might have faced building a video solution from scratch.
“It was really easy just plugging into Twilio's APIs and letting you guys be the experts on video calls so we could focus on being the experts on integrating our AI,” Kennebeck said.
According to Hayden, that ease translates to the customers who use Smart Consults, too: “The great thing about providing this service over video is that anyone can participate. We’ve made it so simple that even my colleague’s grandma was able to use it.”
With ingenious solutions for today’s most common needs, companies like Yembo are proving that we’ve only scratched the surface of how digital communications can completely transform industries by providing seamless customer experiences.
The great thing about providing this service over video is that anyone can participate.