Service members experience smoother Peak Moving Season
September 12, 2013
Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Personal Property directorate hosted its annual Peak Moving Season Hotwash meeting Sept. 4 and 5 with Department of Defense and commercial partners. During this meeting, attendees discussed what went right this summer and what needs improvement.
"This annual meeting is a continuing effort to keep communication flowing between all partners and improve the overall quality of the program for service members and their families," said Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Erhardt, director of the Personal Property Directorate.
Leaders from American Moving and Storage Association and International Association of Movers attended the meeting along with program managers from the military services and U.S. Transportation Command.
The backbone of the Defense Personal Property Program is the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS, which is the technology side of DP3 and provides users a one-stop internet-based portal for managing their moves. It is accessible through the website move.mil. DPS provides users 24-hour access to personal property shipment information throughout the entire moving process.
"We're seeing users becoming more educated and accustomed to using the DPS system now which is making a positive difference in the program," Erhardt said. "DPS provides the ability where you don't have to look at a physical piece of paper to manage your move anymore. You can see, and manage, all aspects of your move through a computer using this system anytime of the day."
Peak moving season traditionally occurs between May and August each year with the peak of the peak between Memorial Day and July 4. This is the busiest time of year for transportation service providers, or TSPs, to accommodate requested pickup dates due to trucks and drivers (also known as capacity) being booked up. Planning the move of personal property requires flexibility during this timeframe.
During the hotwash, a variety of DP3 and DPS topics were on the table at the meeting for discussion to include what worked and what didn't work during this summer. Topics discussed included business rules, Customer Satisfaction Surveys, DPS functionality, peak season adjustments, standardization of processes, capacity and improved communications to name a few.
Erhardt mentioned one reason this year's peak moving season was much smoother was because no major changes were made to DPS since last summer. As a result, the system was much more stable and better understood by TSPs, transportation offices and defense members.
The program's leadership invested time and effort early in the year to prepare program elements for peak moving season. Weekly telephone conferences kept communications open and dialog freely flowing with program partners in an effort to avoid any surprises that might crop up during peak season.
Erhardt said that one of the improvements his team made was to improve communication and allow for better flexibility in adjusting peak moving season business rules. This ultimately led to using commercial industry capacity (trucks and drivers) during the busiest part of the summer.
Rates were another topic of discussion. Each year, the program traditionally publishes transportation rates in April so Personal Property Shipping Offices start booking household goods shipments with TSPs for peak moving season. This year, rates were published March 22 to allow transportation offices to get a head start in booking shipments.
Another crucial component of DP3 is the Customer Satisfaction Survey where a member's feedback really makes a difference. Survey results are provided to TSPs for their quality control efforts. Defense member's participation in the CSS helps ensure that the quality of service will increase as carriers strive to improve their scores based on service member's feedback.
"Overall, we're also seeing survey [Customer Satisfaction Survey] response rates increase to around 38 percent this year. Inclusive, we're seeing increases in survey comments and scores associated with it. This tells us the quality built into this program is increasing. This also helps feed the best value program we have in place.
"We know there's more work to do." Erhardt said. "But this program is living up to our expectations of providing a better moving experience to our service members and their families."
In 2008, SDDC launched its reengineered DP3 household goods moving program.
The program's benefits include Full Replacement and Repair Value for damaged/lost household goods at no additional cost, on-line claims filing and direct claims settlement between members/employees and transportation service providers, best value acquisition of transportation services (through the Customer Satisfaction Survey), improved communications between customers, transportation service providers and military personal property offices, and web-based entitlements counseling option.