Excellence in delivery is not straightforward

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How to match customer expectations in parcel deliveries? Combine IoT and field service tooling!

As we all know online ordering still is increasingly growing. This leads to a change in business model for the delivery companies, they deliver more and smaller parcels to customers. With the increasing transparency and the rise of IoT (Internet of Things), customers request to be well informed on when they can expect their parcel.

The shipping companies try to excel in delivery, partly by trying to meet that request in the best possible way. They expect that by being fully transparent they will succeed, however…

Not all messages they share with their customers make as much sense as they could. Recently I received a text message saying my parcel had been delivered. Half an hour after it was handed to me personally by the delivery man. That message would have made sense if I had a terrible short-term memory, but fortunately that’s not the case. Another delivery company made me very eager with anticipation by mentioning at 10am that the delivery man was on his way with my parcel, only to arrive after 3 pm. I like to get excited when expecting my parcel, but after guarding my front door for 5 hours my excitement had dropped down to zero.

Both experiences demonstrate that as a company you have to be spot on when interacting with your customers, especially when communicating on delivery times, requiring the customer to be at home.

Being spot on can be exaggerated though. Last month I received the following message: “your parcel will be delivered between 13:03 and 15:03”. This company obviously uses IoT to time box the delivery, but somehow that very explicit message gave me a bizarre feeling. I mean, it is a pleasure to get a time box that is limited to 2 hours, rather than ‘today’ or ‘this afternoon’. But if you work with a 2-hour time box, why not round to half hours or if you want to be really specific 15-minute time frames? Like: “your parcel will be delivered between 13:00 and 15:15”. Still pretty specific, but slightly more credible.

Some other companies ‘underpromise’ but ‘overdeliver’, which doesn’t always result in a satisfied customer either. I ordered a home trainer for my mother on Thursday, hoping for it to be delivered on Saturday so that I could assemble it at her place during our usual Saturday afternoon visit. But for whatever reason the parcel would be delivered after the weekend, on Tuesday. Not ideal, but I figured that I would then quickly assemble it for her on Tuesday evening. Imagine my surprise when returning from said Saturday afternoon visit, to find the home trainer delivered to my house in my absence. Had I known, I would have left my place slightly later, allowing me to assemble it that same afternoon. Had the parcel delivery company been more evolved in their use of IoT, they could have informed me of the 3 days early delivery in advance.

So all in all parcel delivery companies face a difficult task in terms of satisfying customer expectations. Customers expect their parcels to be delivered quickly and timely, preferably in a minimized (but credible) time box. I would strongly suggest combining field service tooling with IoT (through microchips in the parcels) to deliver that customer satisfaction. Have the field service tooling plan the route in advance, provide a quite wide time box to the customer and have the IoT implementation refine the delivery moment as it nears. In this way it is feasible to create a credible time box that is very limited, leading to a happy customer.

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