The Amazon effect has resulted in continually growing expectations for the last mile. As companies struggle to keep up, many fall into two camps: those struggling to optimize their last mile and those that have created a competitive advantage from their last mile.
89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. When establishing your last mile, keeping your customer experience at the forefront is crucial.
As Forbes said, customer satisfaction requires a perfect product, delivered by a caring, friendly person in a timely fashion. Developing a competitive advantage moves a step beyond “satisfaction” though, requiring additional focus on your delivery experience. Here is how to do it:
The Right Delivery People
At the end of every supply chain, is your last mile delivery carrier. Much of the weight of customer experience is resting on their shoulders — their smile while delivering the package or where they leave the package can all affect your customers’ satisfaction.
With the right technology, you can monitor everything that happens in your last mile, ensuring it becomes your company’s competitive advantage. Some of the key components to watch are:
- On-time deliveries: it seems to go without saying that deliveries being made on time is important to your customers. Whether the delivery was in their possession, sitting for days, or the issues were caused prior to the carrier receiving the delivery, data can provide the insights you need. Knowing which carriers are consistently missing the mark is important.
- Damaged packages: in a customer’s eyes, the delivery of a damaged item is comparable to not delivering the item at all. Tracking damaged goods can help rectify consistent packaging or carrier issues that may impact your business.
- Communication: a carrier’s communication with your customer should be recorded as well. Any calls to schedule a delivery or delivery attempts can be recorded to ensure they’re happening.
- Consistent service: When signing a contract with your carrier, you agreed upon a certain service level or delivery experience. Setting up checks and balances to ensure every customer receives consistent service every time is key to developing a competitive advantage.
Translating the above items back to recorded data will make it easier to monitor your last mile and control consistent service levels. Periodic reviews of your data can show trends, allowing you to address carriers who are not meeting your requirements.
Prepare your last mile network to pivot when service expectations are not being met or capacity is needed.
Exceeding Customer Demands
Stepping up your last mile delivery to exceed customer expectations can help create a competitive advantage for your last mile.
What do your customers want? Amazon has led the charge on last mile expectations for years. While your customers may be unique, here are the most common demands and how you can go above and beyond:
- Delivery windows: To be clear, 9am to 5pm isn’t a window. Occupying your customers’ day, requiring them to sit at home and wait for a delivery can be frustrating and result in fewer future orders. Giving your customer the opportunity to schedule their delivery around their schedule shows consideration and reduces the likelihood of an expensive and inefficient redelivery. If scheduling isn’t an option, try to keep your windows less than 3 hours.
- Branding: As we mentioned before, your delivery people are an extension of your business. Maintaining that extension by adding your branding to driver’s trucks and uniforms can increase your brand awareness and improve delivery experience.
- Faster delivery: Amazon’s trademarked two-day and now one-day delivery times pushed the industry. If your windows are still a week or more, you’re significantly behind in the customers’ eyes. Speed is going to depend on many supply chain factors, like closer warehousing. In the last mile, seek out a network of carriers who can provide same day delivery of your goods.
Visibility & Communication
Tracking on orders is now the norm, but visibility and communication go beyond tracking.
Visibility provides insight into specific order details – package quality information (OS&D), GPS locations, and consistent updates. Complete, real time visibility provides the ability for optimal customer communication. You should expect and receive real-time alerts not only for your benefit, but to allow for management of delivery issues before they become your customer’s problem.
Real time alerts for damaged packages, missing packages, or delivery delays give you an opportunity to communicate with your customer about the problem and solution, before they contact you.
Gain a Competitive Edge
Using the right technology can help drive your company’s competitive advantage in the last mile. It can provide the visibility you need to operate efficiently and communicate effectively.
eTrac is specially designed to help build an industry-best last mile experience. With one integration, you connect directly with your carrier network’s existing technology — providing complete insights in real-time. When you need to grow or change your last mile network, eTrac’s Carrier Partner database has a comprehensive list of last mile carriers ready to help you.
Don’t let your competitors get to it first: learn more about eTrac here.