5 last-mile delivery strategies for equipment hire services
Here are five best practices for a successful last-mile delivery strategy, and how customer engagement software from Localz enhances the last-mile experience.
The last mile is one of the most important areas of focus for equipment and tool hire businesses. It’s where your service meets your customers, and it’s where things can go very right, or oh-so-wrong.
But, often, last-mile delivery strategy gets left out of the conversation — if the equipment is delivered, the job is done, right?
Not at all: The last mile can be fraught with challenges, from proof of delivery to customers not being available to receive their delivery.
So, what can you do to reduce those points of friction; create a seamless experience for customers, staff, and drivers; and offer five-star customer service that keeps clients coming back again and again?
Think of your last-mile strategy as a holistic approach, homing in on the steps before, during, and after a delivery — not just the drop-off. Here, we’ll dive into why a last-mile delivery strategy is so important, best practices for last-mile delivery optimisation, and how you can enhance your day of delivery with customer engagement software.
Why does last-mile strategy matter?
Last-mile strategy matters because it’s where your product or service gets into the hands of the final customer — it’s where you can really show off exactly what your business is about. The more visibility and flexibility you can offer your clientele, the better their experience will be.
Above all, last-mile delivery should focus on creating an exceptional customer experience, which will make the difference between retaining loyal, repeat customers (who promote you online and via word-of-mouth), and negative reviews and customer churn.
Last-mile strategy can impact a number of areas of your business, including:
- Customer engagement. When customers don’t have channels to communicate and engage with you, they feel anxious, left in the dark, and like their business doesn’t matter to you. Even if things technically go OK, when there’s a lack of communication touchpoints throughout their journey, they may not feel comfortable using your service again, since it was plagued with uncertainty. Offer customers real-time updates about their orders and deliveries — including ETA windows that are around 15 minutes or less — to ensure they’re ready and available for the service, and provide varying options for getting in touch so that they can share information that increases first-time access, such as access codes or where to park.
- Staff retention. No one likes paperwork, especially when their job requires being constantly on the go. Ease the burden on your staff and operatives with tools like digital paperwork and automated client messaging; this ensures clients are reminded of their delivery appointment and saves your staff time, allowing them to dedicate more energy to providing excellent customer experience. And when you can provide team members with a clear overview of all of the jobs to be done, as well as details on individual drivers or jobs, managers have more visibility into both the day-to-day and larger trends. Creating a frictionless experience for staff on the back end will help reduce burnout and turnover.
- Feedback collection. A good last-mile strategy doesn’t end when service is over; the close of an equipment delivery is actually prime time for gaining insight that can help improve your business and operational strategies. It allows you to collect feedback in a manner that is both timely and actionable. But having a driver directly ask the customer they just served is awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved — instead, automate feedback surveys to send when a delivery has been made, so customers can offer honest thoughts while their experience is top-of-mind.
- Sustainability. If you’re looking to make your business more sustainable and eco-friendly, a last-mile strategy is a great place to start. Digitising your solutions means less paper going to waste via paperwork, receipts, and printing copies for various stakeholders. Route optimisation means saving on fuel and avoiding traffic, wrecks, or bad weather, so your fleet spends less time on the road and stays as safe as possible. And automated alerts sent with geofencing means less idling time, as your operatives no longer have to manually send updates to customers or staff.
Best practices for last-mile delivery optimisation
The goal of a solid last-mile strategy is to create a customer experience that aligns with their expectations, allows them to have visibility, and gives them back control of their day — not to mention, optimises the process for your drivers and staff.
Here are five best practices for equipment hire businesses seeking to enhance their last-mile delivery strategy.
1. Digitize the experience. Digitising your paperwork and processes results not only in less paperwork for your staff to keep track of, file, manage, and move; but it also means more sustainability, better visibility, and less chance of human error. With digitisation, you can create customer profiles that can be pulled up at a moment’s notice to get the bigger picture of a customer’s history and provide more personalised experiences — think: recommendations of equipment they’ve used previously, or recommendations of commonly paired equipment pieces. Automating emails and texts, meanwhile, creates efficiency for drivers to concentrate on the tasks before them while increasing first-time access rates (customers are more likely to pay attention to digital materials than paper ones, which have a solid chance of getting tossed in the bin without a glance).
2. Increase transparency with last-mile tracking. What is last-mile tracking? It’s transparency that lets customers know exactly when things are arriving — no vague delivery windows that leave valuable equipment vulnerable to theft or clients waiting around for hours. ETA tracking or place-in-queue tracking helps ensure customers are ready and able to receive their delivery.
3. Up your customer engagement and create more communication touchpoints. More communication means more visibility. When you’re intentional about engaging with your clientele, they’ll notice — and, often, reward you with their loyalty. Provide customers with touchpoints throughout the entire equipment delivery journey that help reduce anxiety or uncertainty, offer control and autonomy, and let them know you have their best interests in mind. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Offer two-way communication. When customers can reach out directly to a delivery driver, they can give crucial information such as access codes, parking situations, or equipment additions. This leads to better first-time fix rates and reduced no-access appointments.
- Provide self-service via a customer portal. Display all the details of a customer’s appointment and allow them to schedule, reschedule, cancel, or make further equipment requests.
- Send automated alerts and reminders. This ensures that even the busiest person has insight into when equipment will be arriving so they can be available to receive it.
4. Gather feedback and take action. Collect real-time feedback so that customers feel their voice is heard, and so you know where your equipment delivery business excels and where it’s lacking. Receive alerts for negative feedback so your team can make amends as quickly as possible; this can make a big difference in customer retention, as 78% of consumers say they would give companies a second chance if they provide excellent customer service.
5. Provide proof of delivery (POD). With POD software, both your customers and staff have reassurance: POD can prove that equipment was delivered, as well as show the condition it was dropped off in, and photo capture cements trust and minimizes disputes.
Localz + HSS: Last-mile delivery done right
At Localz, we work with equipment delivery companies to perfect their last-mile strategy. Our customisable customer engagement platform offers all the tools you need to execute an outstanding customer experience.
One example of how our solutions support the success of equipment delivery businesses is HSS Hire, a supplier of tool and equipment hire in the U.K. with more than 200 locations. By focusing on their key challenges, we were able to digitise their processes, paperwork, POD, and feedback surveys; provide customers with automated notifications and real-time driver tracking; and offer better communication and navigation for drivers. Our technology has also been integral to HSS Hire’s new click-and-collect offering.
Here are some of the results Localz drove for HSS Hire:
- A 45% increase in driver retention.
- Increased fuel savings with increased first-time access.
- Faster resolution of customer feedback with real-time alerts.
Want to learn more about how Localz can transform your equipment hire customer experience? Get in touch today.