In the final mile, supply chain leaders still rely heavily on manual data exchange. Any time a shipment changes hands, it spends some time idle while people exchange and verify data about that shipment, adding wasted time and costs to the supply chain.
While many hear the word “automation” and think of robotics or autonomous vehicles, much of supply chain automation today is happening around these inefficient exchanges of data. The specific exchange of data that can be most frustrating for shippers, customers, carriers alike is one that Convey is happy to announce a new solution for — scheduling a delivery.
Why automate delivery appointment scheduling?
The most common reason a delivery needs to be scheduled with a customer is when a large item has to be delivered inside the residence. This is a challenge because data has to be exchanged between three distinct parties who do not regularly communicate; the shipper, the carrier who actually delivers it, and the customer. While a third-party carrier is usually contracted to make the actual delivery, 94% of customers blame the shipper, not the carrier, for a poor delivery experience. This results in loss of future business and low customer satisfaction, as well as longer delivery times and higher costs.
Problems with Delivery Scheduling
There are many problems with the way appointment scheduling is done via manual data exchange today:
- Phone calls: Nobody makes them anymore, and nobody EVER answers calls from unknown numbers. This results in carriers having to make multiple attempts to contact a customer — delaying delivery.
- Inconvenience: It is not convenient for the carrier to have to try to call a customer while looking at a scheduling sheet to determine which trucks and crews in which area match up with a time that is available to that customer – all while trying to maintain a positive demeanor with the customer whose day they just interrupted from an unknown number.
- Margin of Error: Every time you manually exchange or enter data into systems there is room for error. This results in incorrect addresses, loss of detailed instructions (such as gate codes), and a generally disconnected experience for the customer.
Our data indicates that over 20% of White Glove shipments lose multiple days of delivery because they need scheduling services.
Everyone Benefits from Automation
Customers expect their shippers to take responsibility for their shipments from cart to door, and they shouldn’t have to make any phone calls or exchange any data manually. By adding a delivery schedule interface to the tracking page, it no longer requires human intervention. When a delivery is ready to be scheduled, it becomes a process of a few simple clicks that take less than 10 seconds. All this requires is for a shipper to display their available times for delivery and then digitally accept new appointments from a web form. Making appointment scheduling an online, self-service, interface for customers has big benefits for everyone involved.
For Carriers – Better Delivery Performance at Lower Costs:
- Gets rid of delays in transit due to inability to contact and schedule the customer
- Dispatchers spend less time on the phone, so they can spend more time scheduling and routing their valuable trucks and employees for optimal efficiency
- Better data means fewer address errors and failed delivery attempts
For Shippers – Better Customer Experience and Fewer Exceptions:
- Better control and branding: customers interact with the brand only, and the proactive outreach produces a much more positive customer experience
- Reduced number of packages that are returned due to inability to schedule a delivery (because of a failure to contact customer after multiple attempts)
For Customers – Added Convenience and Flexibility:
- No need to answer a phone call from a phone number they don’t know in order to schedule the delivery
- Automation means earlier scheduling at a more convenient time for them. Scheduling farther in advance means it is easier to arrange daily schedules and meetings so they can be at home for the delivery.
- Customers have the ability to reschedule at their convenience if their schedules change.
Final Mile Automation is the Future
Supply chain automation doesn’t have to be a bunch of expensive robots or driverless cars. Companies should start by automating any place where they are still manually exchanging data today. Once the data is automated, there are a surprising number of ways that humans can avoid tedious tasks like making phone calls and filling out spreadsheets.