An automated dispatching system helps businesses reduce their reliance on manual processes that come with traditional dispatching methods. Automated dispatching helps reduce human errors, minimize delays, and cut down the time spent on constant repetition of manual tasks. As such, automation is a key factor in ensuring accurate and timely last mile deliveries and providing a great customer delivery experience.
Product and price were once the primary brand differentiators in most markets, but these days consumers place a higher value on customer experience. This means businesses that fail to provide an excellent delivery experience are likely to see higher customer churn, since customers are no longer buying the service or product alone but are actually paying for the experience as well.
Perhaps that’s why a recent survey showed that around 85 percent of marketing executives say that delivery service is a major key driver of customer experience, while two-thirds of shoppers said that their impression of a brand is directly related to accurate and timely delivery services.
Given all that, it’s unsurprising that most transportation and logistics industry leaders are choosing to prioritize improving their customer delivery services. More and more businesses are turning to technological tools to automate processes and improve their delivery operations—which means that finding the right automated dispatching system is increasingly a top priority.
Automated Dispatching System Basics
Let’s state the obvious for a second: Dispatching is the process of assigning drivers and vehicles to particular routes and deliveries. The traditional way of dispatching involves using pen, paper, or spreadsheets and handing out printed assignments to drivers. But increasing competition and customer expectations are pushing companies to optimize their delivery processes while cutting down overall operating costs. Automating the dispatch process—along with route planning and other last mile workflows—through the help of a technological solution is really a key to survival in today's marketplace.
So how does dispatch system software help? Simply put, these solutions help companies thrive by automatically coordinating the movement of people, goods, and services. With machine learning, modern solutions can sift through massive data sets in a matter of minutes to provide users with optimized driver and vehicle assignments, sequences, and routes. This means doing more than automatically assigning the best resources for the job—it also requires finding the most cost-effective routes by considering various factors affecting delivery times like delivery constraints, real-time traffic and weather conditions, time window requests, and so on.
Aside from optimizing dispatching and route optimization, some dispatch solutions also help businesses continuously improve their performance. Advanced solutions offer robust visibility and KPI-tracking capabilities, providing companies with deep insights on various aspects of delivery operations such as driver performance, planned stops vs actual, fuel efficiency, driver hours, return orders, etc. These insights help businesses plan more strategically and improve operations over time.
The Must-Have Features of an Automated Dispatching System
The right automated dispatching system offers various benefits to businesses—from eliminating manual tasks and processes to enabling enterprises to provide a shorter delivery turnaround time, increase driver productivity, and gain real-time visibility into delivery operations. All of this can combine to put your business on the path to great customer delivery service.
To make that happen, however, you need to be sure you’re equipped with the right capabilities. Here are some of the must-have features to look for in an automated dispatching solution.
Automated capacity management
Dispatching and scheduling work in tandem since your fleet's capacity has to match up with delivery volumes in a way that meets constraints. The right dispatching software might help by sending automated updates to customers to enable them to schedule their preferred delivery windows (which can help businesses save a substantial amount of time calling customers to ask for their preferred delivery times), all while dynamically offering options that square with your capacity requirements. The software might then choose the best delivery windows according to past delivery data for the customers who opt not to schedule their delivery schedule.
Automated route planning and optimization
Automated route planning and optimization are keys to fulfilling more deliveries in each run. This helps in reducing costs by maximizing stops while taking into consideration different factors such as customer preference, delivery timing, driver skill level, and more—something that would be nearly impossible for a human planner to do unaided.
Many businesses are running large-sized fleets in multiple areas, which for some means the need to dispatch centrally so they can manage both internal and external fleets more efficiently.
An advanced dispatching solution allows for the integration of complete visibility of all route assignments and drivers, including external ones. This enables you to manage active and upcoming routes via a unified dashboard.
Generally speaking there are two factors you need to consider when it comes to finding a software that will meet this need: one is integration, which we’ll discuss below—but the other is scalability. If you’re routing and dispatching centrally for large numbers of trucks and orders, you need a cloud-based solution that can route thousands of stops in a matter of minutes, otherwise you’ll be subject to slowdowns and disruptions.
Automated notifications and alerts
Unexpected traffic jams, sudden vehicle breakdowns, weather interruptions, and the like can happen any time, which is why dispatchers and fleet managers must be quick in taking the necessary actions. Here, it’s helpful to have logistics software that offers automated exception workflows where all affected delivery stakeholders including the customer can be notified of the possible delays caused by unforeseen events.
The right dispatch software allows businesses to be more flexible in their delivery operations by empowering quick, data-driven adjustments to daily plans. Customers are sometimes flaky, so the ability to accommodate last-minute changes can go a long way towards increasing customer satisfaction.
Businesses must go for dispatch schedule software that can be integrated with their current software to streamline operations and for better visibility and control over various business functions. More than that, larger businesses need software that empowers easy integration with third party contractors and fleets. For this requirement, you’ll really want to see proof of successful integration use cases in the past.
In the end, modern businesses need to choose a solution that allows them to integrate multiple functionalities so they can increase their productivity, improve operations, and lower delivery costs while ensuring high customer satisfaction. The right automated dispatching system can go a long way towards making that happen.