Not every shipment is created equal in logistics. The modes, rates, and classes of freight vary, but there can also be other logistical layers involved. Some loads are fragile or especially valuable, so an additional level of care must be taken. Think about moving appliances, furniture, or anything large and valuable—it takes extra effort to make sure it arrives in perfect shape.
In cases like these, customers might require what’s known as white glove service. Providing white glove service means catering to the customer's specific needs and providing a bespoke delivery experience that might involve installation and personalized attention. Simply put, white gloves mean taking the extra step in the final mile.
This isn’t a new phenomenon, but of course today everything revolves around technology. That means third-party logistics (3PL) providers will need to provide customized delivery, setup, and installation services, along with potential removal services, at a high level of customer service—all while remaining connected and efficient. Thus, 3PLs must understand the connection between white-glove services and 3rd party logistics software.
The Basics of White Glove Services
Providing white glove services involves going above and beyond what is typically expected of a service provider. It may sometimes be nice for the consumer to return home and find a package on the doorstep—but when it comes to a new tv and sound system that need to be hooked up correctly, or a smart appliance that’s got to be installed in a particular way, consumers often want more.
Offering white glove services is now necessary for working with a large number of furniture, appliance, and other retailers. This kind of delivery means being as careful as possible and following the specifications of a consumer to a tee.
Among the services offered with white glove are:
- Assembly, setup, and installation during home delivery.
- Personalized and especially-attentive customer service and support during the delivery
- Haulaway of existing items that are being replaced.
To build trust and increase confidence in your brand as a 3PL, shippers should know that white glove orders will be handled appropriately.
Key Features of White Glove Logistics
It’s important for 3PLs to understand the key characteristics of white glove logistics that distinguish it from regular last mile delivery services. But it’s just as important to get a sense of the tools and technologies that underpin these services and make it possible to carry them out efficiency.
3PL providers must do something extra to give their customers a stress-free fulfillment and delivery experience. Throughout the delivery process, they must demonstrate their expertise by following standard protocols and guidelines.
This starts with the simple act of making sure that the product arrives in the right condition and that the customer’s space is cared for exceptionally well throughout the process. You might literally wear white gloves—or you might just make sure your drivers know how important it is to leave the place looking better than they found it. Of course, with this type of service it’s also critical to document the delivery and installation so that there’s a clear record of the service being performed to the customer’s standards.
Transparency is yet another key characteristic of white glove logistics because it allows customers to track their deliveries at every step along the way. 3PLs offering white glove service need tracking tools and solutions enabling them to monitor orders from pick-up to delivery, providing timely notifications and exception alerts as necessary.
A real-time tracking system helps build consumer trust and reduces the risk of damage, delays, or accidents during the delivery process.
What matters in white glove service is the added value. Besides delivering goods on time, the service must also deliver the orders at the time most convenient for the customer.
White glove teams should communicate with customers and learn about any specific delivery needs they have, giving customers the ability to choose their own delivery windows if possible. This way, you can be sure that you’re prioritizing the customer’s convenience.
Setup and Installation
There's a lot more to a white glove delivery than an over-the-threshold one. The service doesn’t just pertain to delivering the items to the customer's home but also involves unpacking the items and placing them in the desired place inside the house—essentially taking care of everything the customer needs to be up and running with their new widget. That’s why white glove service providers often perform set-up, installation, and assembling of products such as equipment and furniture. Also, they recycle or dispose of any unwanted packaging so that the customer is not bothered by unnecessary clutter.
This can often require specialized technicians, which is why the ability to optimize routes based on driver skill can be helpful. Likewise, the ability to offer customizable installation instructions through a mobile app can be incredibly valuable for more complex services.
Products Requiring White Glove Service
Technically, you can offer white glove deliveries for almost anything—but it’s more common among more expensive items that might require extra care. Among the examples are bulky household appliances like refrigerators, furniture, and consumer electronics. These products may be damaged or improperly used if not delivered with adequate care and attention.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to delivering white glove services in last mile logistics, since it involves providing high-quality service to consumers and managing drivers and consumers throughout the process. White glove services can be simplified by following a few tips:
- Specify key best practices and guidelines. This might include things such as automated scanning, alerts, and notifications, as well as custom forms and proof of delivery requirements for the driver to fill out.
- Prepare for managing exceptions. In most cases, shipments go according to schedule, but there are instances when special handling is needed around transportation delays, weather, accessibility issues, or labor shortages, to name just a few.
- Measure performance with metrics. It is imperative to measure performance to ensure white glove services are utilized effectively and live up to their potential.
- Liability should be defined. Clear liability is essential to ensure carriers and shippers understand the obligations they are under when using white glove services. Here, electronic proof of delivery can be extremely valuable.
In a highly competitive industry like logistics, where most companies offer a similar range of services, adding a white-glove touch to your logistics handling services could differentiate you from your competition, enabling you to create a stronger brand and gain more customers. And with the best 3PL software supporting your processes, you can add this offering without losing out on efficiency.