Differentiating Your Service in the Logistics Business

  April 25, 2014       Martin Taylor

Can you differentiate your service offer in the highly competitive logistics business?

A blog discussing the challenges and opportunities by our customer experience expert – Martin Taylor.

Does the following experience have any resonance with you?

Recently, one of my colleagues ordered a new vacuum cleaner and washing machine to be delivered to their flat in London.

He arranged to have both appliances delivered on a specified day, as well as the removal of the old washing machine, and the installation of its replacement. He stayed at home on the arranged day to receive his new goods.

A couple of days prior to the planned delivery date, my colleague arrived home to the dreaded “missed delivery” card. The courier had unsuccessfully attempted to deliver the vacuum cleaner two days before the specified date. We’ve all experienced this; I personally love being told I wasn’t there at a time I didn’t arrange, note the sarcasm.

My colleague decided to pick up the vacuum cleaner from the local depot, and waited in on the pre-arranged date to receive the washer dryer.

No-one came.

Not happy, he phoned to re-arrange delivery.

This time they did arrive, but with no tools to fit the new appliance, and no capacity to remove the old one. In addition to this, the delivery-van failed, meaning the couriers had to wait outside for over an hour waiting for a replacement van. I suspect that there were going to be a lot of disappointed people that day.

Eventually my colleague had his new washing machine successfully fitted, but with a nasty taste left in his mouth from the experience with the retailer.

And that’s the point isn’t it?

The whole retail experience has been marred as a result of the delivery, which as far as most of us are concerned, is all part of the deal – right?

Almost a billion parcels are estimated to have been delivered in the UK last year by an expanding logistics workforce of around 1.8 million people, supporting a domestic parcel industry worth around £4.4bn.

Given the existing market size and the future growth predictions, is it any wonder that this is the business to be in?

If ever there was an easy business, isn’t it safe to assume that it’s package delivery?

The online retailer does the hard work; the consumer has been attracted to the site, the sale has been made and payment processed, the system has captured all the delivery details and set the delivery expectation. All the delivery company has to do is pick up the stock and follow the instructions…

Given my colleague’s recent experience, clearly, it’s not that simple.

Let’s assume that you’ve built your courier business, invested in the logistics systems, organised your depots and developed your delivery teams. What can you do to wow your clients and win future business when you’re in such a competitive space?

I see the challenges as:

  1. You can only ever fail in the eyes of the consumer and if you fail, the retailer fails – very rarely does anyone advocate a delivery company
  2. Your relationship is with the retailer not the receiver
  3. Home delivery is beset with difficulties given the external influences, such as traffic, badly packaged products, etc.
  4. How do you align your brand experience with that of your client
  5. If something goes wrong, your cost to serve can easily nullify any profit you’ve made on that single delivery

So how can you win on service?

  • You need to understand how being part of your client’s service experience and reputation has to be part of your value proposition
  • You have to make a difference to your client’s business
  • You have to have an integrated service offer that can add value if the transaction goes wrong

This is a highly competitive market and typical of a market in which transparency is key. Customer service plays a huge role in shaping the success of the courier in terms of their relationship with their corporate clients and the consumers.

The lessons and challenges makepositive have experienced working with some of the larger players have given us a real insight in to how companies can drive successful customer experiences, supported with a mix of technologies and operational support.

If you want to get together to discuss your current customer service challenges in the logistics or any other industry, or how innovation may help you and your organisation achieve your advocacy goals, let me know. The coffee is on me… I may even buy cake.