Delivery experience: 5 step guide

What makes a great delivery experience? Customer notifications...on time delivery....package tracking portals for customers. This is your definitive guide if you are in last mile operations.

A woman singing for delivery on an ipad

What makes a great delivery experience?

With the explosion of eCommerce in recent years, shoppers have become accustomed to getting their goods delivered directly to their doorstep. While businesses have been quick to react to this trend by creating their own websites and third-party seller accounts on Amazon, many are still learning how to do delivery management in a way that delights their customers.

Every one of us has our own story about missed packages, sitting and waiting for delivery vans and so on. Now that home delivery has become very much the norm it is a good time to think in detail about the delivery experience and your delivery route planner.

What is delivery experience?

We define the delivery experience as the experiences your customer has with your business throughout the entire delivery journey, from point-of-purchase to receiving their goods and how that looks and feels.

The delivery experience is a critical part of the wider customer journey and the reason why it’s important is because a customer who has a positive experience when ordering and having goods delivered is more likely to trust a company and become a repeat customer. More to the point, if a customer has a bad delivery experience, their package is lost or not delivered on time, or damaged, or the delivery person is rude, then that customer is statistically less likely to repeat a purchase from you. In fact, according to PWC research, 32% would stop doing business with you, even if they love your brand! So it is essential to get it right if you can.

While previously businesses would have focused on an in-store experience, managing the experience of customers within the confines of their own homes is a further challenge. When it comes to delivery, there’s one player who leads the way - Amazon.

Whatever your feelings about the world’s largest retailer, they are definitely the leaders in delivery experience. A quick Google search at the time of writing this blog, shows that they are currently hiring for 78 roles in the DEX (their acronym for Delivery Experience) team, so they take this pretty seriously.

But at SmartRoutes, we’re also obsessed with the delivery experience, and we believe that independent retailers like you can provide a better experience than Amazon. So, let’s break down the delivery experience and how your business can delight your customers.

5 steps to a great delivery experience

  1. SMS and email notifications that are personalized for the customer
  2. Live package tracking portal so customers can see their delivery guy in real-time....fully branded for maximum effect
  3. Trained and resourced drivers who can communicate and coordinate with customers directly
  4. Contactless delivery options to protect customers and avoid missed deliveries
  5. A seamless ordering experience for customers from website, to delivery notifications, to tracking portal, to the actual delivery. All branded, all good experiences.

1. Personalised delivery notifications

With online shopping, you're missing out on the opportunity to speak to your customers face-to-face. For all the benefits of eCommerce, the only human interaction you had with your customer is gone.

By sending personalized, automated notifications your business can:

  • Build a rapport and relationship with your customer
  • Show them you care about them
  • Allow them to make arrangements to accept delivery
  • Build excitement and get them thinking about their delivery and your brand

It’s also worth thinking about whether you send an SMS or email notification. For B2B. emails can work best, and with B2C deliveries, direct to customers mobiles as an SMS can be the better option. This aspect of last mile carrier tracking is the critical one in establishing a successful delivery operation.

Home Delivery Route Planner Case Study

Prior to the CoronaVirus pandemic, Le Patissier, a local bakery in Dublin, Ireland sold the bulk of their products through their brick-and-mortar store and corporate events. However, when they were forced to close their store and large gatherings were prohibited, they began selling their baked goods through a new online store, and delivering them directly to customers with their home delivery route planner.

Selling a premium product, they had always focused on providing a 5-star customer service. Now that they were delivering directly, they had to re-examine their customers' journey and ensure that the delivery experience was equally as good.

2. Live parcel tracking map for your customers

Your customer parted with their cold, hard cash for one of your products. While it might just be another sale for you, it could be a big deal for them.

By providing your customer with a way to track the progress of the order, you can:

  • Show you appreciate their business
  • Give piece-of-mind about their purchase
  • Allow them to go about their day and not have to wait around for the delivery
  • Eliminate calls to you and your support staff for updates on delivery time

Tracking portals can seem like something reserved for big players in home delivery, but implementing your own system (such as SmartRoutes!) can be super quick and cost-effective to implement.

It might seem obvious, but delivering on-time is one of the cornerstones of your commitment.  

As part of your delivery notifications, you have the opportunity to include the ETD (estimated time of delivery). By doing so, you can:

  • Show the customer that you are professional and organized
  • Allow them to make arrangements to receive delivery, or let you know how to gain access to the premises in their absence
  • Give your drivers the opportunity to reach out to the customer if they’re delayed

3. Happy drivers make for a great delivery experience

As the saying goes, your employees are your greatest asset.

And if that’s true for the wider business, it’s importance is amplified when it comes to delivery drivers. As we’ve already mentioned, your delivery person may be the only ‘human touchpoint’ your customer has with your business.

A smile and a pleasant exchange may only take 30 seconds for your driver, but your customer may base their entire opinion of your business on those brief seconds.

An extensive study from PWC has shown 59% of customers feel that brands have lost touch with the human element of customer experience.

Whether you do your own deliveries, or you have a team of drivers, you have a 30 second window to smile and take a significant advantage over the big players. Take that opportunity.

4. Contactless delivery options

As we’ve just seen, delivering directly to customers can provide a big opportunity.

But let’s face it, not every customer gets excited about EVERY delivery. When they're not home, you still need to ensure that the delivery experience is seamless in their absence.

Contactless delivery is when you make a delivery without any face-to-face exchange with the customer. When making a contactless delivery, you need to ensure:

  • The goods are left safely and securely where they won’t get stolen, damaged or wet
  • The customer is notified of the delivery immediately
  • You and your customer support team are instantly updated with photo-proof-of-delivery in case of any queries or complaints

Making sure your customers are informed is the key here, but making sure that you and your drivers take care with each delivery is also crucial to providing a great experience.

5. A seamless customer experience from point-of-sale to delivery

We’ve given you the pieces of the puzzle from point-of-sale to delivery, but the magic is in how you put it all together in a multi drop route planner.

Making sure that your customer is informed from the moment they make their purchase, right the way through to accepting their delivery can make you memorable. It's worth using a tool like UXpressia to draw your customer's delivery journey. No two businesses are the same, so it can be a great way to identify how you can provide extra value to your customer throughout the delivery experience.

By making the whole experience uniform, you can:

  • Expose the customer to your brand multiple times, making you more memorable and multiplying the possibility of word-of-mouth referrals
  • Ensure that the customer is happy and friendly to the driver at the point of delivery
  • Save you and your team hours of time spent dealing with queries about deliveries

The internet has opened up the options available to everyone, so it’s worth setting yourself apart with a seamless delivery experience.

What practical steps can my business take to improve the delivery experience?

If you’re doing your own deliveries, you probably want to ensure that you're doing everything you can to make the delivery experience a memorable one for your customers (for the right reasons, of course!)

To get started we’ve put together a checklist based on our suggestions above. Getting a process in place, and educating your delivery drivers about the importance of it is the first step in  the right direction. Like everything, it can take a bit of time for everyone to get onboard, but it quickly becomes second-nature once the framework is clear.

You can download our checklist below, and print it out to ensure you get the most from it from the outset:

Take your delivery experience to the next level now with:

  • automated customer notifications
  • electronic proof-of-delivery
  • real-time order tracking

Talk to us to get a demo today and talk through your delivery experience requirements.