What is your most important goal? Increasing customer satisfaction or reducing costs? Most likely a combination of both, even if achieving one sometimes seems to run counter to achieving the other. But do you really need to pick one over the other?
Although most businesses thinking about implementing route planning software for deliveries aim to cut down planning time and costs, customer experience should always remain high on your priority list. Twenty percent of respondents to a recent survey listed improving customer service as the second most important goal for the year. The question is: what role does route management software play in customer experience management?
Nobody enjoys waiting. And late deliveries can severely damage your business' reputation.
But if you’re using legacy routing software—or pen and paper—then you're potentially setting yourself up for late deliveries. There are many factors to consider when planning routes such as traffic, customer availability, driver skill, service times—in other words, much more than you can account for on the back of an envelope.
There are so many variables involved that any route you come up with using a manual process will likely be flawed. Your delivery teams will hit obstacles like road closures and unrealistic ETAs. Ultimately, they'll be running behind schedule and will take longer than they need to cover every delivery stop.
The best routes require route planning software. In less than 30 seconds, modern route optimization tools can take into account all the different factors affecting your routes and generate the most efficient and cost-effective ones for your particular set of parameters. In this way, you can empower delivery teams to consistently deliver on-time.
Your customers will appreciate you for delivering when you promised, so they'll be less likely to switch to your competitors. Apart from helping you keep your present customers, providing an excellent customer delivery experience will help you attract new clients, since happy customers naturally promote your business to family, friends, and co-workers.
Tighter Delivery Windows
The expectations of your customers will be for narrow time windows and short lead times. Why should someone have to block out four hours of their day to receive a delivery? When you have route optimization that actually works, you can estimate delivery windows more precisely—and pass that precision on to the customer. Sure, you can add some buffer time to the windows that you show customers, but if you can cut those windows from 4 hours down to 2, you can greatly improve customer satisfaction.
There can be quite a bit of disruption during the delivery process. A particular installation might take much more time than expected, throwing off the schedule for future stops. Or a client may call in to let you know that the time window they requested doesn’t work for them anymore. Using advanced route planning software, you'll be able to adapt on the spot.
It is not uncommon for customers to change their minds, or for changes to crop up at the last minute. When you can actually work with your customers to keep both your deliveries and their days on track, it’s a win-win.
This is another reason to avoid planning your routes with pen and paper or any technology that takes a long time to route stops. When you plan using conventional route planning methods in that situation, it won’t be possible to work around the customer's request. Just figuring out a new route wouldn't be possible in time.
On the other hand, with scalable, AI-powered route planning software for deliveries, it’s easier to accommodate last minute requests. Your routes can be changed and re-optimized in just a few seconds.
Again, reliable and consistent delivery times are important to customers. Therefore, accuracy in transportation planning and arrival prediction is of paramount importance. It is possible to improve this by using route planning software that takes into account the different variables affecting delivery times and can track the exact location and status of the delivery teams to update estimated times of arrival (ETAs) over the course of the day. When your customers can access live ETA estimates for their orders, they don’t have to call in to customer service for updates and they’re less likely to miss a delivery.
Of course, on-time delivery isn’t just about hitting the bullseye with your timing. If you deliver right on time, but you don’t keep the customer updated on when to expect the delivery, they’re still stuck twiddling their thumbs while they wait for their orders to arrive.
That’s why the best route planners provide a customer portal where customers can see where the vehicle is in real-time. This makes it easy for your customers to access delivery information—giving them a sense of confidence and reducing delivery-related anxiety.
Additionally, the best route optimizer has features for alerting and notification features for customers. You should be able to send an automated text or email message to the customer when the delivery has been routed, when the team is on its way, and when that particular customer’s stop is next. This kind of advance notice can have a big impact for your customers.
Data Integration with Route Planning Software for Deliveries
Reporting and analytics from a route planner can show you employee performance on the road, the number of actual deliveries vs. how many were planned, and how much time delivery teams spend on each drop-off.
By analyzing this data, you can improve your business performance over time. This can help you pinpoint your weaknesses and strengths, allowing you to make more data-driven business decisions—particularly around customer experience.
More and more businesses are becoming focused on their delivery operations as a means of differentiating themselves from their competitors. Good customer service varies from one sector to another—but there is one constant: you have to make good on your promises. This starts with accurate ETAs and constant customer communication. Advanced route planning software helps you do just that while lowering your operating costs at the same time.