Do you deliver goods to your customers’ doorsteps? Your delivery service is a valuable convenience to your customers, but it’s important to do it right. Botched deliveries reflect poorly on your company and can even cost you customers. On the other hand, going the extra mile to improve your delivery service will usually result in increased business and improved customer loyalty.
Here is a roundup of the top eight things you can do to make sure your company’s deliveries reflect well on your business:
- Use addressing software. It’s surprising how many companies don’t double-check their customers’ addresses. This is a mistake, because a false address can result in delayed deliveries or even failure to deliver. Even if the addressing mistake was not your fault, any problem with delivery will usually reflect poorly on your company in your customer’s mind. Running your mailing list through address validation software will help ensure delivery to correct address. It will also format the addresses properly for the postal service, improving delivery rates for mailed items.
- Implement systems for delivery. Don’t leave your delivery service to chance, or assume that your employees will do it right on their own. Think through every step each shipment must go through, from order through delivery. Create step-by-step checklists your employees can use to make sure everything is done correctly. Pay special attention to any “transition points” where the responsibility for the order transfers from one person or department to another. It also helps to appoint one person to head your delivery service.
- Use telematics. GPS tracking is an indispensable tool for optimizing your delivery fleet’s performance. Tracking your vehicles will help you cut fuel costs, monitor drivers for responsible driving behavior and optimize routes for greater efficiency. By knowing exactly where each vehicle is at all times, you can also provide your customers with down-to-the-minute ETAs, and quickly respond to last-minute requests.
- Outsource where appropriate. Even if you own your own fleet, it may be more efficient to outsource certain deliveries. For example, if you normally run regular routes with your trucks, using a courier service to deliver to areas where you have few accounts may provide those customers with better service, and be more cost effective for you as well.
- Communicate clearly and often. Use emails and/or texts to keep customers informed of their order’s delivery status. (Be sure to get their permission before texting.) Let them know when the order has been processed, when it has shipped and the estimated time of delivery. If an item has to be dropped off and no one is home, you can send a delivery notification. It’s also a good idea to follow up to make sure the item was received and that the customer is satisfied with the purchase and delivery. This is a proactive way to head potential problems off at the pass.
- Train your drivers in customer service. Your vehicle and driver represent your business. Make sure they are clean, neat and clearly identified. (If you are outsourcing your deliveries, expect the same of the service you use.) Train your driver to smile, greet the customer properly and thank them before leaving.
- Send extra perks with each delivery. Including a little thank-you gift with each parcel will make your company stand out as special. Try a few pieces of candy or a handwritten thank-you note. Or, include a sample of one of your other products or a coupon for future purchases.
- Solicit feedback. It’s hard to know what your customers really think about your delivery service, unless you ask them. Every once in a while, send a survey requesting anonymous feedback from your customers. It will let them know you care, and their frank comments will help you improve.
Delivery doesn’t directly generate cash flow, so it’s easy to overlook its significance. However, from your customer’s point of view, your delivery service is vitally important. In fact, it may be the only direct contact they have with your business. If you are already implementing many of the ideas above, you probably already enjoy the excellent customer loyalty and repeat business a top-notch delivery service can help you achieve. If not, try them out, and see for yourself how improving your delivery service can boost your business.
Robert J. Hall is the president of Track Your Truck, headquartered in New Lenox, IL. Track Your Truck is the primary provider of GPS vehicle tracking software for small and medium-sized businesses.Comments