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How to improve your delivery experience

14 min read
What makes a great delivery experience? Understand the factors that make an experience memorable, learn how to tackle challenges and improve your delivery management with this article.

Whether it’s a food delivery experience or receiving a parcel, how customers perceive their interactions with your brand at home is critical.

With the market providing many options for quick, cheap delivery, consumers are more interested in their experience quality than ever. As we’ve found, one bad interaction can drive customers to your competitors – so creating a great delivery experience is key for retaining your audience and growing your brand.

Free eBook: 2024 global consumer trends report

The importance of delivery experience for customers

Often businesses can focus on the initial sale of their products and services, rather than the delivery experience itself.

So, why should you care about the delivery experience for your customers?

Your audience is living in a fast-paced, digital-first world, where next-day, and in some places, same-day delivery is fast becoming the norm. Technology has enabled your customers to get what they want faster, meaning their expectations for delivery quality, convenience, and speed has been raised drastically.

Developing a great delivery experience for customers means not only meeting these ever-evolving expectations, but building trust and increasing the likelihood of repurchase.

Elements of great delivery experience

In your opinion, what makes for a great delivery experience? Is it speed, convenience, or a tailored approach?

The key factors customers look for in a great delivery experience

There are a few factors that can contribute to a positive opinion of a delivery. Below are the main customer considerations when deciding to purchase an item for delivery with your brand.

1. Speed

We now live in a world where we can pay for goods to be delivered to our homes on the same day. Companies such as Amazon have realigned customers’ views on delivery times and changed how “speedy” we view a delivery experience as a result.

2. Convenience

Consumers want the flexibility of booking deliveries to suit their lifestyle. Whether it’s same-day, next-day, weekend slots, or highly specific time slots during the week, convenience is a deciding factor in whether we purchase with a brand or not. In fact, 69% of customers now expect a delivery service as efficient as Amazon.

Our current era of convenience means that customers are looking for quality as well as convenient delivery – and their perception of businesses can quickly change if a convenient delivery comes with a bad experience.

3. Price

The cost of delivery isn’t as much of a key factor when customers decide on delivery options. Speed and convenience can often trump price, as demonstrated by Amazon with its recurring Prime subscription model.

For an insignificant expense, you can buy a great deal of convenience and speed. PwC found that 41% of consumers are willing to pay for same-day delivery, with 24% being happy to pay more to receive deliveries during a one or two-hour window of their choosing.

4. Sustainability

Consumers care about the environment more than ever. Brands that can offer speed and convenience through a sustainable delivery service might be able to oust competitors who offer desirable delivery at the cost of the climate.

5. Personal touches

It’s not just big corporations that are offering competitive delivery experiences. Smaller companies often focus on tailoring a customer experience to include flexible delivery, sustainable packaging, handwritten notes, and personal deliveries to entice customers to purchase with them. 43% of customers surveyed by PwC after the COVID-10 pandemic said they’ve shopped more locally, with respondents being more conscious of shopping with smaller businesses.

Other elements to consider

Your brand’s delivery experience is often influenced by how you deliver your goods. Elements that might affect your customers’ opinion of your delivery service include:

  • Third-party services. If your third-party delivery suppliers don’t offer a good experience (lateness, frontline delivery staff attitude, etc.), your customers will judge your brand as responsible.
  • Timeliness. If your products are brilliant and your customer service is good, but the delivery doesn’t arrive when expected, your customers will not view your brand as favorable.
  • Meeting needs and expectations. 76% of consumers expect businesses to get their unique needs and expectations – meaning that understanding your consumer market is vital.
  • Ease of use. If your delivery options are stellar but your ordering system is a nightmare to use, your customers aren’t going to be impressed.
  • Customer service. If there’s a problem with their delivery, customer service agents might be able to turn things around from customers – which means your customer service is a pretty important part of the delivery experience.
  • Notifications. In our ever-more convenient world, we want to know exactly when to expect our deliveries. You need to be sure you’re providing notifications on order statuses on channels customers prefer.

Free eBook: 2024 global consumer trends report

Common challenges or failures with delivery experience

In a customer-centric world, understanding your customer base is the most important part of creating a great delivery experience. Not only that, but creating an order and delivery system that can coordinate multiple moving parts and work seamlessly across supply chains is necessary for meeting customer expectations.

To build a memorable and fulfilling service, you’ll need to avoid these common pitfalls.

Issues with understanding customer expectations

Knowing what customers expect of your brand helps you to lay the foundation for a good interaction. Without knowing what they expect, you can’t possibly provide them with what they’re looking for.

Businesses might be unsure of what their ideal customer looks like, or can’t access customer data – or they might even have the data, but aren’t sure what to do with the insights. Creating customer profiles, gathering data, and completing in-depth analysis can help you to develop insights your whole team can use to deliver an experience that’s top-notch.

Failure to understand how complex customer experience is

Customers will experience many different touchpoints before even getting to the delivery stage of their purchase. The delivery experience is just a part of the wider customer experience – and if there are hurdles still to overcome in other areas, the delivery experience might never come up to scratch in customers’ eyes.

Outdated processes

With customers expecting their deliveries to be made swiftly, your company’s processes need to keep up. The fast-moving world of commerce will continually evolve to provide easier and faster services, so your internal processes need to mature to keep you ahead of competitors. You need to have processes in place for accepting, fulfilling, and delivering orders that can handle high loads and tight deadlines without disrupting your last-mile delivery workflow.

Legacy infrastructure and technology

Similar to your processes, if your legacy infrastructure is impeding your customers’ chances of getting a quick and tailored service, you’re going to fall behind your competitors. Your teams need to be able to communicate and work together effectively, or your customer relationships will suffer.

Disconnected systems, little automation, and unsophisticated, inflexible systems can really impede your ability to deliver on time and to the standards your customers expect. If you’re stuck with a tech solution that isn’t working well, your ability to improve and develop as customer needs change is going to be hampered.

Poor communication

A lack of transparency and poor communication can drive customers away from your business. With a vast number of alternatives out there, customers will steer clear of businesses that leave them guessing.

Building excellent customer experiences means developing a cultural approach to servicing customers. Read more on building a customer-centric culture with our guide.

Lack of insights

It’s all well and good collecting customer data, offering rapid delivery, and engaging your customers well – but there’s always room for improvement. If your team doesn’t have access to useful insights, your ability to grow and provide an even better service will be much more difficult.

Understanding where your delivery issues are arising will help you improve the last-mile delivery process much more quickly. Gathering operational insights such as driver tracking, on-time rates, feedback scores, distances traveled, and more will provide you with a bigger-picture view of where your delivery experience can improve.

How to capture delivery feedback

Delivery feedback is more important than ever for providing customers with the experience they’re looking for, in the time scale they desire.

Mastering your customer intelligence can seem daunting, but leveraging your customer data can really transform your delivery experience.

However, there are some challenges in getting this feedback and using it to your advantage. These can include:

  • Scale –  If you’re an e-commerce business with many thousands of deliveries, the scale of the feedback you need to gather might be overwhelming, particularly if you’re organizing it manually.
  • Complexity – There might be several steps you’d like to analyze in the delivery process for customers – but attempting to take all that data and overlay it with financial and other information can be incredibly complex.
  • Time delays – Particularly with manual-based reporting, you can often overlook issues until they’re too late because your insights arrive at a delay.
  • Lack of actionable insights – Often, businesses are overwhelmed with data – but they’re unable to make sense of patterns and trends that can help them to create insights for their team to action.

Having a wider customer experience management program can help you to not only organize your feedback mechanisms, but turn the data you capture into real-time insights. Learn how you can create a more effective customer experience with the Qualtrics platform.

How to improve the delivery experience

Here are four key tips for improving your delivery experience and smoothing out processes for your customers and for your team.

1. Automate what you can

Services that are highly valued don’t have to be carried out by hand. Automation can help free up your team’s time and improve the customer experience at the same time.

Automating customer notifications, for example, can greatly improve the customer experience while saving your team the time of organizing responses to customer queries. Your customers will be able to plan their time better, increasing your service’s convenience.

Manually fulfilling, packing orders, and planning deliveries can hold you back from scaling. Automating your order fulfillment to a lesser or greater extent will help you to deal with shorter time frames and larger order volumes, and you can optimize your approach over time as you gather insights.

2. Consider bringing your delivery service in-house

Having your own branded vehicles and greater control over your delivery service means you have more influence over the delivery experience your customers will receive.

You’re already likely dealing with several businesses in your supply chain – removing a third-party delivery service can help you to exert more control over factors such as on-time delivery, personnel and more.

You can also work on being more sustainable in your delivery, which might increase your appeal over your competitors. For example, pre-planning and optimizing delivery routes with your own delivery drivers can cut down on time spent on the road and emissions.

3. Offer free or discounted delivery services

Consumers are increasingly driven to choose brands that offer free delivery services. 40% of European customers will abandon a shopping cart if there’s no free shipping above $174, with 61% of US and 68% of Canadian shoppers state that free delivery is their top reason for choosing to make a purchase.

4. Add special touches

Whether it’s a handwritten note or a free gift, personalizing your delivery can be a nice touch for customers. It’s a simple way of exceeding expectations and demonstrates how much you care, which is a great way to increase customer retention and recommendation of your brand to others.

Delivery experience management (DEM) is the future

To really thrive in a post-Amazon era, your delivery experience has to not only meet customer expectations but exceed them every time.

Your ability to coordinate insights and handle the ongoing duties of delivery depends on having systems in place that can automate data and help you manage tricky supply chains.

Improving the last mile starts with creating a delivery process that can stand the test of increased pressure. Using an overarching process that can pull in insights and ensure various experiences work in harmony is a great way to ensure your overall customer experience is desirable.

What is delivery experience management (DEM)?

Delivery experience management (DEM) encompasses the onsite customer experience, order fulfillment, and post-purchase customer experience.

Rather than handle your delivery experience with disparate processes, Qualtrics’ delivery experience management tools can help you to collate information and understand key issues such as bottlenecks and negative customer feedback.

They can also help you to work on not only the immediate need to create a great delivery experience, but to also develop an enviable post-purchase customer experience that will encourage your customers to repurchase.

Free eBook: 2024 global consumer trends report