It’s widely accepted that a successful business will exceed its customers’ expectations. However, simply meeting customer expectations has long been the golden chalice for many a service or operations director. Those expectations are after all, a moving target. What was once thought of as exceptional service has simply become expected service in the eyes of the discerning consumer; and none more so than one wanting a parcel to be delivered.
Back in 2010 if a consumer made an online purchase, they expected to pay a fairly substantial amount for the delivery. They wouldn’t know the time, the day or even the week the parcel might arrive, but they knew they had to be at home to take the delivery. If they missed it, having to go to the depot to collect it themselves wasn’t unusual. My how things have changed!
The eagle-eyed reader will have spotted ‘The Three E’s of Expectation’ in this blog so far, well now we’re heading into the dizzying world of ‘The Four P’s of Parcel Delivery.’ Hold tight.
Pricing: The race to the bottom is truly on. Consumers often relate the cost of the delivery to the value of the contents. Flat rates don’t float well anymore and ‘free’ brings big business for the retailers. Running an efficient delivery business is key in enabling courier companies to pitch to retailers at a price that gets their attention, because consumer expectations remain high regardless of the price point. For now, consumers will accept varying prices for premium time slots, but the ground beneath ‘premium’ is shaking as next day shifts towards becoming standard.
Personalisation: Ironically in a faceless world where automation rules supreme, opportunities to personalise have flourished. Retailers know their customers buying history and can offer the right range of delivery options to suit. Choosing where the parcel is delivered is seen as a right. Want it at home or work - sure. Delivered next door, or to the local convenience store - no problem. In a locker at the train station – absolutely. Pet supplies retailer Zooplus, even give their customers the ability to choose exactly which company they’d prefer to deliver Benji’s treats.
Predictability: Last Mile. This is arguably, the courier companies biggest opportunity to influence their own destiny and win big contracts on an on-going basis. Letting the consumer know where their parcel is, who has it and when it’s going to arrive is still impressive. In a few more years it will be expected and if your business still hasn’t invested in the technology to enable this predictability, a crystal ball is not required to predict the future… and it’s not a particularly comfortable one.
Promise: Call it your promise or your professionalism, it’s ultimately about consumer trust. The delivery needs to happen in a manner that represents your business. The courier needs the right tools to deliver a great service experience. The parcel needs to be delivered responsibly and the retailer needs to trust in that. Get this wrong and the crystal ball mentioned above will still be redundant.
The smart homes of the future will continue to grow smarter. Instead of letterboxes maybe our homes will have parcel points, where the parcel is posted by a delivery robot or drone, automatically scanning the delivery and informing the customer with a neat little photograph of it waiting expectantly to be lovingly unwrapped.
Until then, as mountainous as customer expectations may seem, keep in mind businesses can set them as well. With the right technology investments, parcel delivery businesses can exceed expectations, delight consumers and in turn retain their contracts through exceptional service without ever having to dust off the crystal ball.