Technology has gone a long way towards demystifying the last mile in the last few years. For decades, last mile deliveries were something of a black box, with virtually no meaningful visibility into delivery runs after the trucks had left the depot. As things like smart phones and SaaS technology have become everyday elements of our lives, however, this has stopped being a foregone conclusion: with the right driver mobile application and the right delivery management dashboard, you can actually get clear, actionable insights into your delivery runs as they’re unfolding.
This has been a game-changer in many ways, with effects that reach well beyond the day of delivery. When the entire last mile is more legible and can be analyzed more easily, you can gain new insights into what does and doesn’t impact performance, customer satisfaction, and cost. And as businesses have been able to access more information in a more and more timely way, the importance of using all the tools at your disposal to craft outstanding delivery experiences for customers has only become more and more clear.
Not only does customer experience matter when it comes to customer retention and brand loyalty—it also has a big impact on your overall delivery efficiency. Strong last mile communications can reduce missed and failed deliveries by helping ensure that customers are actually at home to accept delivery when the driver arrives. It can help reduce the amount of back-office time spent answering phones. And it can help you register exceptions (like customer reschedule requests or other issues) in a more organized, centralized way.
Given all that, it’s not hard to make the case for endeavoring to leverage the best possible customer communication tools and tactics at your disposal. Increasingly, that means segmenting your communications based on the audience.
How Efficient Customer Communication Elevates Last Mile Deliveries
Modern delivery customers want to be more connected than ever before. This is especially true of end-consumers, but it’s increasingly crucial to B2B delivery use cases as well. Once someone has placed an order, they want to receive a scheduling confirmation, they may want the opportunity to schedule their own delivery date and time, they’ll probably want a reminder email before you actually route their order, and they’ll certainly want full visibility into the delivery and frequent notifications when the order is on its way.
This isn’t just for show. Self-scheduling messages save you the time and effort it takes to call customers individually to schedule delivery times, and then inevitably call them back multiple times because they weren’t ready to discuss their schedules (or didn’t even answer) the first time. If, ultimately, the customer does have a conflict, reminder messages and pre-routing notifications give them the chance to reach out and let you know—this way, you don’t wind up sending a truck to an empty house.
By the same token, if you’re giving customers the option to confirm their schedules simply by clicking a button within an email, you can save yourself the time and resources it would take to call customers individually—all while gaining the benefits of increased certainty around delivery success. From there, real-time final mile tracking via a dedicated portal only enhances the experience for the customer while improving your first-attempt delivery success rate and reducing the costs associated with multiple attempts.
If your business specializes in one type of product or service, the customer communication touchpoints we described above should be plenty. But what about businesses that offer a mix of different delivery types, or a mix of products from different suppliers, or a range of different services?
For these kinds of businesses, one-size-fits all messaging and communication might not offer the greatest potential for using customer experience to create last mile efficiencies. In cases like these, the smarter bet is to find a way to segment your messaging based on different audiences—e.g. deliveries vs installations, big and bulky items vs smaller ones, or even based on particular brands you may be delivering.
How to Segment Your Messaging
Like we mentioned above, modern technology has gone a long way towards making the challenges of last mile operations more manageable. In fact, with something like customer communication, technology actually has the power to make it not just manageable but easy.
From there, further breaking down your messaging so that messages and message workflows are customized by particular audiences doesn’t have to be an overly complex process. It’s just a matter of asking a few questions about the groups that you’re sending messages to:
- Are there some deliveries or service types that will require more time on site than others (e.g. white glove deliveries)?
- Do some customers need to prepare for the arrival of the delivery team in some way (e.g. pulling an old appliance out of its niche)?
- Will some customers be expecting to receive communications with different brand identities (for businesses with different branding in different regions, say)?
- Do some items require the customers to fill out a questionnaire or provide additional information before the delivery?
- Are there some segments of customers who want more or fewer delivery notification touchpoints (e.g. if your business delivers to both consumers and other businesses)?
The basic upshot of all of these questions is the same: are there some customers who would be better served by receiving messages that are more specific to their particular use case? For larger companies, the answer here is usually yes—at which point it’s just a matter of defining the different audiences and mapping out who should receive which communications.
Turning Smarter Communication into Happier Customers
At this point you might be thinking, “that’s all well and good—but how do I translate this into actual ROI?” The simple answer is that the positive efficiency gains that you get from a great customer experience are only magnified when your communications are more closely tailored to your customers’ needs.
Some of these differences are small: a customer might be more likely to actually open an email that says “Your Mattress Delivery Has Been Scheduled” than one that simply says “Your Delivery Has Been Scheduled,” especially if your brand is more strongly associated with something like appliances. If customers expecting installations receive customized communications that let them know how long they should expect the delivery team to be on-site, they can keep their schedules clear and avoid any sort of awkward delivery disruptions.
By the same token, customers expecting white glove deliveries might want more communications from your team—while a business receiving deliveries from you might only want a scheduling notification and a call when the truck arrives. If you can segment out these two groups with very different requirements, you can keep higher-touch consumers happy without wasting money by sending superfluous emails and texts to those who don’t want them. These time and cost savings might not seem monumental, but they can add up pretty quickly.
And, of course, that’s before we talk about the intangibles: any time you can craft a better delivery experience for your customers, you have the potential to win more repeat business and boost your brand reputation across the board. For enterprises that service a wide variety of different customers, this is a clear path to tangible benefits.