It’s no secret that there aren’t enough delivery drivers in the UK. Global driver shortages have made headlines for many years, and the impact of Brexit and other circumstances has only amplified the issue for many businesses. The UK government has even launched the Generation Logistics recruitment program to collaborate with logistics organizations to get more job seekers interested in working in this sector.
From the looks of things, they’ve got their work cut out for them – 90% of UK residents responding to recent research said that they’d never even considered working in logistics. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing delivery organizations can do to recruit and retain delivery drivers.
One strategy that has the potential to pick up steam is to start recruiting drivers to act as brand ambassadors. This has the potential to have a real impact in boosting job satisfaction for drivers and customer satisfaction at the same time, representing a huge win for businesses that can pull it off. But how do retailers make this strategy work in practice?
Optimize your routes
The idea behind thinking of drivers as brand ambassadors just fundamentally makes sense. In the e-commerce era, the delivery driver is often the first human representative of your brand that a customer encounters. This puts a lot of pressure on getting the delivery experience right. At the same time, the potential upside is significant.
If your driver can offer transparency in the delivery, arrive on time, provide courteous service (potentially including processing returns or other order changes at the jobsite) and ensure post-delivery service, you can build your brand image to new heights in the eyes of consumers. Not only that, but you can make the driver feel like a valued part of the team who contributes on a key level.
Here, the on-time element is crucial. That’s why optimizing delivery routes to ensure that your driver-ambassadors can meet the ETA promises you make to customers is one of the most important best practices.
Empower drivers while they’re on site
Great customer service often depends on being flexible, but too often delivery personnel aren’t empowered to be adaptable to changing circumstances and customer needs. When drivers can’t accommodate returns on the spot, process order changes, switch to white-glove delivery service or handle other requests while they’re interacting with customers, it hurts both customer satisfaction and morale.
Luckily, building this level of flexibility and adaptability into the driver’s workflow doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by finding a mobile application that will enable order changes and customization on the go.
Provide visibility to customers
Again, when you start to think of drivers as ambassadors for your brand, it becomes obvious how imperative it is to set them up for success. That means giving them ETAs that they can meet, and ensuring that customers know when to expect the delivery driver to arrive.
Here, it can be helpful to provide texts and emails with ETA information, status updates and driver information at multiple touchpoints throughout the process, such as when the delivery is scheduled, when it’s on its way, and when the driver is only a few minutes from the site. You might also consider offering live order tracking via a dedicated portal. If you can offer that throughout the last mile, you can put your drivers in the best possible position to delight customers when they arrive.
Utilize the right technology
Delivery drivers have always been an important, if unacknowledged, facet of most retailers’ brands. As businesses start to embrace this fact more and more, however, the process of both reshaping customer delivery experience and improving job satisfaction for drivers becomes ever more important. If we take a step back and think about the delivery experience more holistically, it becomes clear how closely connected the kind of empowerment we’ve been discussing is with larger back-office processes.
None of the work that drivers do, whether that’s getting to the delivery site on time or taking a signature from a satisfied customer, exists in a vacuum. On-time deliveries are based on complex routing processes that need to factor in several customer and capacity parameters. Providing visibility to customers isn’t just about GPS tracking – it involves a comprehensive approach to tracking order statuses. All these processes require comprehensive technology that can power a holistic approach to last-mile deliveries.
Simply put, if you can approach delivery management not as a series of discrete tasks but as a whole process to be optimized from end to end, you can ensure that your drivers are set up for success. When they have an entire end-to-end logistics optimization workflow backing up their efforts, they can offer customers service that makes your brand stand out among the competition.
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