Perfecting day-of-service arrival logistics
Want to perfect day-of-service arrival logistics? Here’s how to overcome the challenges that field service businesses face and how last-mile software can help.
The day of service is when the magic happens—or doesn’t, if you can’t provide customers with transparency about when their product or service will be delivered.
Customer satisfaction is largely tied to the accuracy and predictability of an ETA of delivery, but many organisations struggle to get the day of service right. Failed deliveries and no-access appointments are expensive, time-consuming and frustrating—so how can you perfect day-of-service arrival logistics?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the challenges field service businesses face when it comes to arrival windows, how to overcome them, and how last-mile and ETA software can help.
Does estimated arrival time matter?
Estimated arrival time matters, though not in the way you may think. Many businesses assume that all customers want a short, accurate ETA window well before their day of service; however, what they actually want is transparency into what’s happening on the actual day, as well as real-time, day-of updates so that they’re available for the appointment.
Think of it this way: Your energy provider has notified you that an operative is coming to install a new smart meter in your home next week. You note the appointment date in your calendar—then you promptly forget about it. There are hundreds of other things that happen and that are on your mind between the initial scheduling and the actual appointment. What’s useful to you in this scenario is if the business can provide a small arrival window so you can arrange your day to be home to meet the technician, but also to provide real-time updates as reminders.
The problem with this approach is that most businesses struggle to provide an hour window ETA a week ahead—or on the day of service.
Why do field service businesses struggle with arrival window predictions?
Field service businesses struggle with these arrival window predictions because, well, they’re predictions, not reality. Although you may do predictive analysis and resource allocation ahead of time, much can happen between the booking date and the day of service—cancellations, weather events, fleet issues, and more can cause unpredictable downtime.
And while customers want to know when to expect an operative, providing an inaccurate ETA that ends up being wrong may do more harm than good.
So how can you empower customers to plan their days and have their product or service show up when you say it will?
Communicate the reality of what you know
Perfecting day-of-service arrival logistics comes down to communicating what you know, then providing updates when you know more.
Here’s what that looks like before, during, and after an appointment.
Step 1: Booking confirmation
Once a customer confirms a booking, provide them with a larger ETA window—say, Tuesday from 8-11 a.m.—along with information that you’ll update them on the morning-of with an estimated arrival time via their preferred platform (e.g., SMS, email, or customer portal). Then, inform them that when the service person is on their way, they’ll receive notification of an estimated 15-minute window arrival time. This arrival time calculator both gives customers peace of mind and helps prevent chase calls.
Step 2: Reminder
On the day before and/or day of service, send automated reminders letting customers know the current one-hour window of when they can expect their appointment; who the service person will be, with a photo; and that when the operative is on their way, they will get an alert with an estimated 15-minute window arrival time.
Provide customers access to a self-service portal where they can view all these details, along with further information about their appointment, and confirm, change, or cancel if something comes up. This gives them autonomy over their day and helps avoid no-access appointments and last-minute cancellations, as well as reduces the burden on your call centre staff.
Step 3: Track My Appointment
On the day of service, when the operative is on their way, use ETA software to trigger a message with an accurate ETA using GPS accuracy. To protect the privacy of your staff, you can choose the level of information you provide to your customers using a combination of place in queue, ETA, location, and route planning.
This kind of transparency reduces your customers’ anxiety about when (or if) someone will show up for their service or delivery. They want to know that they have time to pop to the shops or duck to the loo and still be ready for the operative’s arrival.
It’s also helpful to offer customers the ability to communicate with their technician—to offer information such as access codes or parking details—or to make changes to their appointment in their online portal if needed. If you don’t want to disturb your operative, but would like them to be able to see the communications, you can even customise group chat options. Customer service representatives can share vital information to reassure customers, such as that the operative is running late or is driving their vehicle and unable to respond, while ensuring the safety and security of the service person.
See how Localz helped Welsh Water reduce chase calls by 50% with day-of-service software.
Step 4: Arrival
When a technician has arrived, sending an “I’m arriving” message to the customer could be the difference between a smooth appointment and a no-access one. These can be sent automatically based on geofencing so that your operatives needn’t worry about messaging on the go, and they give customers a chance to let the service person know if they need a few minutes to get to the door.
Step 5: Feedback
Prompt for feedback upon the driver’s departure to get insight while it’s top of mind for a customer. You’ll get an accurate, real-time look at what’s happening in the field and be able to see whether you need to make changes for a better customer experience.
Localz can help with a customer-centric approach to arrival logistics
Ultimately, what makes the day of service great is treating your customers like you’d want to be treated: With respect for their time, with common sense, and with transparency. Be honest about what you can commit to, and use real-time location technology to update customers about the reality of what’s happening on the day of service.
And Localz can help you make the last mile awesome with customisable software that empowers customer autonomy and increases customer engagement and satisfaction. Best of all, Localz can bolt on to your existing technology: Our modular platform is built for day-of-service interactions that reflect day-of-service reality, with solutions like real-time tracking updates, secure web-based portals, and omnichannel communication options.