The delivery experience is a critical part of the overall customer experience. It is where the rubber meets the road and where retailers’ or wholesalers’ true colors show.
In many ways, Amazon has set the bar for the delivery experience. But, those who deliver big and bulky goods need to go beyond what Amazon offers. Consumers have come to expect rapid and high-precision delivery, and bring those expectations with them across specialty and work-related deliveries. They need to be able to select narrow delivery slots that fit their schedules, and trust that goods will arrive when promised.
There is no better way to build that trust than to offer radical transparency. When customers know how their goods are progressing on a delivery commitment, they feel calm and empowered.
Being opaque, however, has its benefits, as it offers the ability to conceal operational shortcomings and mistakes from the end-customer. Not every organization is ready for radical transparency, and there are considerations to be made before making the change. Preparation begins with the following three considerations.
1. Last-mile logistics is about customer experience
The sooner shippers begin to treat last mile as a part of the customer experience, the better. Customers want to know where their delivery is and how it tracks against the promised time window. There are a few key components that need to come into play in order to do so:
● Flexible, multi-choice delivery dates and times.
● Consistent follow-through, on time and without error.
● Regular communication and order tracking.
● Visibility down to the driver level.
Timely, effective communication to customers about last-mile delivery is more complicated than it sounds. Where notifications are concerned, some systems are limited in capabilities, or are too aggressive and can burden a consumer with irrelevant or excessive updates. The best software balances direct communication with customers by being transparent at critical moments in the fulfillment process, e.g., a scheduling prompt after purchase, when an order arrives at the warehouse, a reminder before the day of delivery and so on.
Also, the human trust factor is inherent to long-term successful system adoption should not be forgotten. The software must be user friendly with enough depth to do the job yet allow new users to feel “in control.” Dispatchers care deeply about their customers and how their brand is represented and will only continue using software that they trust will deliver predictable results.
2. Transparency can be risky if not prepared
Companies that struggle with on-time delivery and precision across deliveries need to consider solutions to internal issues before providing radical transparency. Sharing increased visibility leaves little room for error and companies need to be prepared to put their best foot forward.
Understanding key pain points such as driver compliance, late delivery or long delivery windows and inconsistency across the third-party logistics (3PL) provider is essential to making adjustments. A driver app that provides a digital way to dispatch orders, driving directions, GPS tracking, frictionless communications with customers and easy documentation of deliveries is necessary to ensure driver adoption and proper use. High-precision routing is key to managing variables such as traffic, weather, directions and more to provide the most efficient and accurate delivery routes, so that drivers can meet customer time windows every time and companies can even narrow windows. Lastly, the software utilized must be seamlessly integrated by 3PL partners to ensure that customer experience is consistent.
3. Customer communication is key
Considering what modern customers expect, companies will find that consistent, accurate communication is central to meeting those needs. Customers need to know where their delivery is, and how it is tracking vs. the promised delivery slot. By providing this in real-time, companies can make last-mile logistics into a customer experience advantage. By ensuring that communication systems are in place that allows for real-time updates that are easily accessible for customers and often provided by automated systems or drivers.
Consistent on-time performance is important, but issues and mistakes will happen, and radical transparency can help to make the most of even less-than-ideal circumstances. Sometimes radical transparency means telling customers you’ll be delayed. The benefit to this communication is that it allows customers to adjust their expectations and plans, which will ultimately lead to a better overall experience, even when things don’t go as planned.
There is no better way to build trust than to offer radical transparency. When customers know how you are progressing toward delivering on your commitments, they can feel calm. And, worst case, if you are running late, they can adjust their plans.
Ultimately, radical transparency is the key to building lasting customer relationships that result in satisfaction and repeat business. This level of visibility is not easy to achieve and takes planning, consistency and ongoing effort to maintain. Shippers have the opportunity to provide a customer experience that goes beyond the point of purchase and continues through the last mile by expanding comfortability with radical transparency.