MSS needed an app to help their technicians arrive at jobs better prepared and to notify customers when to expect someone on-site. They brought on PromptWorks to help create an app that would be easy and delightful for technicians to adopt into their routine.

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Photo: Two people in a horse-drawn carriage with a "Piano Movers" on the side

Movers Specialty Service (MSS) specializes in packaging and crating highly valuable and sensitive items for safe transportation—from priceless artwork and historical artifacts to complex pieces of furniture and fragile light fixtures for the families of relocating C-level executives. The company was established in 1978, born out of its founder’s deep roots in the relocation industry, beginning with his great-uncle who founded Hughes Piano Movers in the 1890s (pictured here).

MSS utilizes a network of 60,000+ contractors across the country to complete these myriad services. Say, for instance, MSS was asked to crate some of Picasso’s work for safe transport from New York to San Francisco. There may be several different contractors involved to complete this task—for instance one to package the artwork with climate control specifications and another to uncrate and expertly install the art on the wall in San Francisco.

MSS needed an app to help guide these contractors by providing logistical tips and tools to aid in the completion of their tasks. This app also needed to enable contractors to report on their progress so that MSS can notify customers within a 30 minute window of when the contractor is expected to arrive.

Photo: A person assembles a box outside of an MSS van

Excellent design through research

Icon: The MSS logo

MSS’s contractors want the instructions but don’t want to report back play by play how their move is going to MSS. Their hands are busy and they may have gloves on so they can’t access a phone easily. They’re also independent business owners who create their own schedules within the requested parameters MSS sets forth, so they’re not specifically required to give detailed updates on their progress.

MSS needed a thoughtfully designed app that would motivate contractors to report back more regularly; for that, they turned to PromptWorks.

This project also needed to move quickly, as the summer busy season would limit the availability of both the internal IT team and the contractors who could serve as testers.

Our Strategy

  • User Research
  • User Testing
  • Adapt to Changes

1. User Research

A PromptWorks UX designer started riding along with contractors in their moving trucks to observe how they do their job and where technology could help improve it. Through both observation and interviews with technicians across the country, the UX designer developed a nuanced understanding of contractors’ challenges and opportunities. This foundational understanding informed design decisions from the initial wireframing to the build and testing process.

2. Rapid User Testing

Animation: The MSS app interface

The team chose React Native and Visual Studio App Center to quickly turn the wireframes into a working mobile app connected to MSS’s live API. In just two weeks, the team released the app to a small group of users and within eight weeks, a dozen users across the country were utilizing the test build and providing the team with insights on cross-device issues and needed features. They aptly titled this new app “Bolt.”

3. Adapt to Changes

While the mobile app was in development, MSS was trying to train its contractors to request approval from MSS staff before completing certain steps in the move. Given that the contractor may be driving or performing a task while the approval is granted, MSS and PromptWorks saw the potential to use push notifications to support the implementation of this new process. The app is now reorganized in user flow to incorporate push notifications and this functionality is ready for MSS to leverage when they feel ready to roll it out.

Screenshots: Screens from the MSS app showing customer details, scheduling, and service tasks

MSS Results

Contractors can now view their list of jobs and tasks for the day, provide evidence of the job completed to MSS, and alert the customer with an ETA. On the job site, they can access job information offline, request changes, and know when clients have signed off on changes.

MSS has already received praise from customers that the ETA indications are helpful and the sign-off process is intuitive.