Without timely, accurate and specific data, how can you evaluate your company’s needs and future direction? Fortunately — or not — there is an infinite number of possibilities when you go to compile your data. How do you get to the meat and find what you need to know?
We asked our resident data expert, Luanne Allen, to share what she’s gleaned from over 20 years in the industry. Including her depth of experience with connecting carriers and shippers, Luanne has spent the past few years focusing on the eTrac Reporting Dashboards. She’s worked with shippers and 3PL’s to build dashboards that help them make steadfast decisions in their businesses and improve carrier compliance.
Her invaluable insight is below:
Q: When deciding what to track, what are important factors to keep in mind?
Shippers and 3PLs should be focused on the best possible customer experience they can provide.
Whether a consumer is buying product online or in a store, a positive customer experience is critical to growing their business and retaining customers. We’ve all heard the statement that it’s “cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one”, and customer experience is a key differentiator for retaining customers.
It’s not just knowing that the delivery person was polite, professional and helpful when the product is delivered – it’s knowing that the customer had visibility to their order, where it was in the delivery process along the way, and if it was delivered on time.
A consumer and a business owner are both going to want to know “where’s my package?” It’s up to the shipper and 3PL to have the visibility to answer that question at any time.
Q: What are the 3 most important KPI’s shippers/3PL’s need to look at?
Keeping in mind the customer’s experience, it’s important to start with the basics:
- Were the status messages expected by the Shipper/3PL provided by the carrier?
- What percentage of my deliveries were completed within the requested time window?
- What percentage of my deliveries were “exceptions” such as late, damaged or not what was expected?
Accessing these KPI’s in real time is important, but so is looking at them over the long term to find patterns and correlations.
Q: How regularly should a shipper/3PL review their data?
It’s best to review the data on either a daily or a weekly basis, but with near real-time monitoring of key statistics.
Many of our clients have alerts in place to provide notification when a key metric falls below established guidelines. If a Shipper/3PL expects 98% compliance from an agent for capturing a delivery signature at time of delivery, and suddenly a carrier drops to 90%, someone should be aware of that change in service level. Often times we see both the Shipper/3PL being notified as well as a notification to the carrier by emailed report, text or other electronic method.
Successful Shippers/3PLs and their agents work together in a partnership to identify why a metric has changed. Keeping open communication with carriers to find out they “why” before jumping to conclusions is important. Keep these examples in mind:
- Perhaps the delivery signature metric dropped because deliveries are scheduled too early in the day for customers to be home to receive the product.
- Perhaps a metric for meeting delivery times changes because of weather in the area delaying travel.
- Perhaps a delayed linehaul truck caused a carrier’s deliveries to be delayed past their requested delivery time. It may be that the linehaul truck should be released from the Shipper’s warehouse 30 minutes early to give the agent time to get freight out on routes and delivered as requested.
You should work with your carrier as you would any member of your team — treating them as a subject matter expert and partnering to find solutions to issues as they arise.
Q: What is a metric normally overlooked by a shipper, that can actually provide critical information?
Residential appointment deliveries make up an increasing percentage of the final mile segment of transportation. Final mile carriers do an excellent job of getting those deliveries made in the expected time window – and many times, they do it more cost-effectively and with more attention to detail than large nationwide providers.
If a delivery has special requirements that require an in-person delivery to the recipient, final mile carriers are well-suited to handle those. It may be a large item such as furniture or exercise equipment that requires un-crating or setup. If it is a product that requires assembly or installation, a final mile carrier may not be used to contacting the recipient via phone to schedule a delivery appointment.
One metric our clients have found to be helpful is the amount of elapsed time between when a product is received at the carrier’s dock and when the customer receives their first email or call to schedule the appointment. If the goal for the Shipper/3PL is to ensure the best possible customer experience, then they will want an agent to contact the customer as soon as they have the product on their dock. Even if the delivery appointment won’t be for several days in the future, the customer wants to know that their product is well taken care of.
Have Confidence in Your Final Mile.
Knowing your numbers can provide the confidence you need to improve and grow your company’s final mile.
Our team of final mile experts is uniquely equipped to help you work through your plans and goals, to create a custom reporting dashboard to provide you the numbers you need.