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5 Best Practices for Perfecting Proof of Delivery

Great deliveries require getting the little things right. Whether you’re delivering pallets of shingles to construction sites or distributing fresh produce, you need serious attention to detail to make sure you’re keeping your customers happy and your costs low.

proof of deliveryOne aspect of that that sometimes goes overlooked when we talk about delivery optimization is proof of delivery. It’s not the sexiest area for optimization, but getting it right can have a huge impact on how effectively you can translate successful deliveries into smoother operations and happier customers. 

After all, what happens after the delivery is operationally just as important as the delivery itself. You need to bill end customers, pay drivers, follow-up with customers whose deliveries didn’t go perfectly, manage returned items, and maintain an audit trail of everything that happened across the delivery process. Without robust proof of delivery, it’s nearly impossible to accomplish all that in an efficient way. 

Here are some best practices for perfecting proof of delivery in the last mile:   

1. Make pictures mandatory

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and that holds true when it comes to last mile deliveries. Pictures can prove that an order was delivered in full without damage—or they can document damage or other issues with the product. At the same time, you can use pictures during a failed delivery attempt to prove that your drivers actually arrived at the site at the appointed time.

That’s why the ability to capture pictures in addition to signatures for proof of delivery is so crucial. And that’s also why the ability to make pictures mandatory within the driver’s mobile app can have such a big impact. Your drivers are working hard to keep to a tight schedule, which could lead to valuable elements of proof of delivery (e.g. photos) to fall through the cracks—if drivers aren’t able to mark their jobs as finished without first capturing a picture, you can sidestep this issue. 

2. Time-stamp and geostamp proof of delivery

In the same way that pictures can help add context to proof of delivery, capturing the exact time and location can improve the quality of your audit trail. This is something that your software should be able to do automatically as your drivers complete their tasks for the day. When you access the proof of delivery later on, you should be able to instantly see when and where it was taken. 

This helps with at least one of the examples that we gave in the last section—proving that your driver was, in fact, at the delivery site at the appointed time in case of a failed delivery. But if you zoom out, it also gives you a much clearer picture of the entire delivery run and enables you to piece together events even well after the fact. 

3. Capture dynamic delivery information

It’s virtually always valuable to capture certain pieces of data: signatures, photos, etc. But there are some deliveries where you may want more than that. If your team was performing an installation, you may want to indicate some details about how the installation was done. For instance, with a dishwasher, you might want to indicate whether there was an existing air gap or whether your team had to install one, so if the customer calls with an issue in the future you have a clear picture of what your team did or didn’t work on. 

By the same token, when you’re delivering to a job site, you might want your drivers to answer some additional questions to ensure that the pallets were handled and stored appropriately. In short, depending on the item, you need different data to be collected by your drivers. 

But how do you actually solve this problem? After all, you can’t just give drivers the same forms to fill out for every delivery and hope that they can intuit which information you actually need. Here, you need your technology to play a more active role by prompting drivers with customized forms for different SKUs or orders types. 

In an ideal world, you’d be able to create forms with configurable logic, so that the system could prompt drivers with different additional questions depending on their answers. This way, you tailor the information you’re gathering to the specifics of each delivery. 

4. Improve proof of delivery integration—even for third party deliveries

Capturing  proof of delivery successfully is one thing—but integrating it into other areas of your business is another. It’s all well and good to capture the right information, but if it’s not at your fingertips when you need it, it loses some of its value. 

To ensure you get the most out of your proof of delivery from the moment it’s captured, it can be valuable to ensure that it’s immediately uploaded to your last mile delivery software and made visible on your control tower or visibility dashboard. This way, as soon as you see that an order is marked as complete, you can drill down to details and see the time, location, signature, photos, and other information associated with the completed order. 

More importantly, you can also immediately look at the delivery documentation for any orders flagged with exceptions. In the case of something like a damaged item, this enables you to spot the issue much more quickly and reach out to the customer proactively to resolve the situation. The result is smarter, faster exception management overall.

This isn’t just crucial for deliveries carried out by your own fleet. Rather, you need the same capabilities when you’re working with a 3rd party logistics provider or a contract carrier. After all, the best delivery partners act as an extension of your brand, which you need to be able to provide the same level of support and have the same level of visibility into your deliveries. Making this happen is largely a matter of technology integration. If your last mile delivery management solution makes it easy to gain visibility into third party deliveries, then you can get all the benefits of robust proof of delivery no matter what fulfillment options you decide to leverage. 

5. Include photo proof of delivery in delivery receipts

We alluded to post-delivery follow-up briefly above, but it’s worth calling it out in its own section. Proof of delivery isn’t just valuable for your own audit trail and internal processes. It can also be extremely valuable for boosting customer experience. 

For instance, if you can include photographic proof of delivery in the receipts that you send out to customers, you can help them maintain a clearer record of the delivery on their end. When they’re processing payments or managing their inventory after the delivery has been completed, they can gain clarity into what was delivered and how without having to call or email your team. 

This is something that your software should give you the ability to do automatically as a matter of course. In fact, the right last mile solution should empower you to enhance your proof of delivery in all of the ways that we discussed above. With the right technology, you can turn proof of delivery into a tool for increased visibility, better customer experience, and even improved exception management. 

DispatchTrack offers the most powerful end-to-end suite of tools for last mile logistics operators. Dispatchers, drivers, customers and clients can access our app on any device to schedule, track, modify and verify your deliveries.

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