Field service sustainability: how to lower your last mile carbon footprint
Last-mile trips across town for service appointments contribute to carbon emissions — and it’s a problem that can’t be ignored any longer.
Did you know that road transportation accounts for 13% of all carbon emissions?
It’s easy to look at that number and think it’s all about long-haul lorries. But last-mile trips across town for service appointments also contribute to carbon emissions — and it’s a problem that can’t be ignored any longer.
We all need to work together to achieve ambitious national and global carbon goals. But altruism isn’t the only reason to cut down on last-mile emissions. Becoming more sustainable will help you save on fuel and improve customer satisfaction in the process.
So how can you make your field service delivery more sustainable? Sure, you can replace your fleet with electric vehicles (more on that later). But there are also smaller steps that you can take right now.
Let’s dive in.
Cut down on unnecessary trips.
A technician arrives at a service appointment only to find that the customer isn’t home to let them in, and they’re not picking up the phone. The technician marks the appointment as no-access, and will need to be dispatched to this location the following day.
Tomorrow arrives, and the technician gets to the appointment only to realise they don’t have the right parts in the van. They have to come back to the depot to pick them up.
The above seems like a mundane enough situation. But from a sustainability perspective, this service appointment has now resulted in 3x the amount of emissions necessary to complete the job.
Improving first-time fix rate (FTFR) is one of the most important steps a field service business can take toward reducing its last mile delivery carbon footprint.
Customer engagement software can help you reduce no-access appointments and boost FTFR, thereby reducing emissions. Here’s how:
- Self-service portals enable customers to easily cancel or reschedule appointments before the technician is dispatched.
- Automated reminders and real-time driver tracking let the customer know exactly when their technician will arrive, making it more likely they’ll be home to answer the door.
- Two-way communication between the technician and customer helps ensure everyone has access to the info they need to get the job done the first time.
Read more: How to improve first-time fix rate with customer engagement
Optimise your routes.
You might have heard that drivers for major delivery companies like UPS don't take left turns. It sounds like an urban legend, but it’s actually mostly true — and according to UPS, it saves 100,000 metric tonnes of C02 emissions per year.
True route optimisation is a little more complicated than just preferring right turns. But the good news is, it’s more accessible than ever, even for small or mid-sized organisations.
You can use route optimisation software to include more stops in one trip in the best order, or make better decisions about which drivers to send to which appointments.
You can also use these tools to optimise fuel savings, which in turn reduces carbon emissions (and costs). In fact, you don’t even need to download fancy software to make this happen — eco-friendly routing is available for free in Google Maps.
Upgrade your fleet.
The longer-term solution to reducing emissions is (obviously) to replace your fleet with electric or low-emission vehicles. Soon, you might not have a choice. The UK announced a ban on new petrol/diesel-powered vehicles starting in 2030.
So what does that mean right now? There’s good news and bad news.
The bad news: New EVs are expensive and can take a long time to manufacture after ordering.
The good news: EVs are ideally suited for last-mile delivery and field service delivery because battery life and charging availability is not a concern for short trips. As more cargo and towing-capable EVs hit the market, these vehicles will get cheaper, and the choice to transition your fleet will become easier and easier.
Are you ready to go sustainable?
Reducing your fuel consumption is just one small part of a comprehensive sustainability strategy. Measuring your carbon emissions, setting goals, and tracking and reporting on progress are all important, too.
But sustainable last mile delivery isn’t all-or-nothing. Every bit helps, and taking steps like reducing no-access appointments and optimising your drivers’ routes are no brainers.
These activities don’t just help the planet — they help your business. Saving fuel saves money, and improving FTFR improves customer satisfaction.
There’s no better time to begin than right now.