Delivering the Goods: Keeping Customer Service Levels High

December 15, 20175min

When it comes to home delivery, UK consumers have never had it so good.

From the one hour delivery windows offered by the likes of Planet Organic to Waitrose sending Click & Collect items to lockers, and through the use of seemingly far-fetched innovations such as using Starship delivery robots and Go Ahead’s London buses to deliver items, the amount of delivery options available has skyrocketed over the past couple of years.

All these developments in product delivery reflect the fact that we are now operating in, as Alibaba chairman Jack Ma puts it, an era of “new retail”. This new world has only just come into existence; until recently, when you ordered something online, the options available for the delivery of the product could be something of an unknown quantity.

It could be hard to predict which kind of delivery options you would find after clicking the checkout button – would the retailer offer an option that fitted your needs? Those days are behind us, as many retailers now offer many different types of delivery service; however, they need to be mindful that customer expectations are also rising.

Ensuring customer service levels don’t slip

Customer expectations can be particularly high at Christmas, and problems with deliveries at this time could do serious long-term damage to retailers.

In fact, more than three quarters (76 percent) of UK online shoppers told YouGov last Christmas that they would switch to an alternative retailer next time because of a poor Christmas home delivery experience. Put simply, this means retailers must find a way to continually deliver through an evolving set of delivery options to a consistently high standard.

To keep up with all the changes that are happening, retailers must ensure they are confident in their ability to spin lots of plates at the same time. But how can they do that in practice?

To line themselves up to succeed, retailers must take a step back and look at the wider picture in terms of the experience their customers will have across all of the different delivery channels.

They should lay foundations that will serve them well in the long-run. This means having systems in place that will allow them to provide increasingly in-depth updates to customers and offer a seamless and high-quality service across multiple carriers.

Customers are demanding increasingly in-depth information such as delivery driver name, location, and exact time of arrival, so retailers should be working to ensure they can share this readily.

To enable this to happen, retailers need to set up a central hub that allows them to easily manage a wide number of fulfilment services and providers, whether that’s shipping items from overseas or getting them to a specific location within a set timeframe.

The ideal scenario for a retailer is having a birds-eye view over all orders, with a control tower that gives them live visibility over everything that’s happening.

Delivering great customer service

It’s simple: to ensure great customer service in the omnichannel world, retailers must put themsleves in a position to manage orders in a fluid, agile style.

By making sure they are getting the right order management set-up in place, they can ‘bake-in’ the agility that’s required for the job. This will enable them to step forward confident in their ability to give customers the exact fulfillment service they want, execute everything to a high standard, and keep customers updated about the state of their order.

During key periods such as Christmas this could really prove the difference – despite a higher volume of orders, and with customers even more demanding than ever, they will be able to keep customer service levels high and deliver the goods.

Bobby Shome

Bobby Shome

Bobby Shome is Business Development Director EMEA at Centiro, leading Business Development activities across Europe. Bobby has spent more than 20 years in the supply chain and logistics area, firstly with Royal Mail UK and then with DHL across different functional roles latterly involved with the service part logistics team, where he led a global team of business development, implementation and solution consultants.

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