When responsive customer care depends on the last mile

  • Posted on October 8, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

Your organization’s digital marketing experience is successfully drawing in customers. Your customer base is active, engaged, and as part of that, occasionally needs in-person service or delivery.

Fast-forward: Now, your service technician is on the way to meet them. Or, in another scenario, to satisfy high demand for Buy Online Pickup at Store, your customers are driving up to your brick and mortar locations to receive the order they placed online. This moment in the customer journey is sometimes called the last mile, the final moments before a service engagement takes place.

In both cases, what is this final, physical in-person experience like? Does it live up to your customer’s expectations, or does it fall flat when customers are counting on you most to provide responsive care?

High CX stakes during the last mile
Your customers really care about what happens during this critical part of their journey. Customers are emotionally invested because they are committing time and effort for it to go right. They had to coordinate and schedule timings, make themselves available – adjusting work schedules, childcare or other personal plans – and expect it to go smoothly. And in the case of a product delivery, they are usually excited to receive something they’ve been waiting for.

The stakes are high – customers with a great last mile experience are likely to view their brand experience as positive. Their customer satisfaction and predictability to want to work with you – often revealed by NPS scores (in some cases where customers have averaged a 14 point increase*) – shows that the brand delivered on their promise, which means they are more likely to stay loyal and even become a vocal advocate for that brand.

On the other hand, a poor last mile experience can severely decrease customer satisfaction, leading to switching and negative brand reputation. If technicians don’t show up on time with the right information or equipment, or online orders are delayed or incorrect, an organizations’ investments to acquire and keep these (now) dissatisfied customers may as well be thrown out the window in the form of unproductive service time, unnecessary truck rolls, and additional contact center volume.

What good looks like, and why it’s hard to deliver
A great last mile experience is generally consistent for both consumers and businesses: The brand communicates clearly, the technician or delivery person arrives when expected, and the service issue or delivery is resolved quickly and smoothly. Customers are able to manage and stay up-to-date on the service experience through their preferred channels – email, SMS alerts, online portals, or phone, so that they have a sense of control and expectations.

Once the service or delivery transaction is completed, it’s done satisfactorily so that there is no need for the customer to call back in for service or questions (e.g. “this stopped working ten minutes after the tech left”), or to reach out to a store about a delivery problem (e.g. “you didn’t tell me that you were substituting my order for X with more expensive product Y”).

These are fundamental parts of the service journey, yet the complexities of digital scheduling, dispatch centers, technician routing and navigation, warehouse management, real-time customer communications continue to plague many service organizations.

You are winning, too
The benefits aren’t just for your customers. To provide top notch service, you need to be available for your customers. Your call center can’t be bogged down by appointment related questions and issues. By providing excellent Last mile service, call volumes for delivery-related services have decreased by an average of 40% (reported benefits provided by Glympse based on their customer experiences). For home services, a decrease by an average of 25%.

Let’s not forget about the field personnel. Customer no-shows are a significant issue, wasting field personnel time, taking unnecessary trips, and preventing another customer from taking their spot. Deploying last mile technology, customer no-shows for delivery services have decreased by an average of 35%. For home services, a decrease by an average of 10%.

The combination of the above has led to increased operational efficiencies, reduced operational costs, optimized staff performance and utilization, and increased revenue.

A better last mile experience starts here
To compete in this increasingly digital world, your service organization needs to connect your customer data and enable employees to communicate with and serve customers more effectively with less effort.

Manual workloads are not efficient at the enterprise level, and customers notice the difference between an outdated service model (“Pick a six-hour window when a tech may show up”) and a modern, convenient service experience.

As part of larger transformational efforts, service organizations can take practical near-term steps to bridge the gap between what customers expect and what employees can reasonably deliver during the last mile. For instance, this could be clear real-time communications around technician arrivals, and automated order substitutions and pick-up instructions. Digital solutions exist for this exact purpose and are helping brands accelerate faster.

Continue the last mile conversation
To learn more about ways to provide responsive customer care when it really counts, listen to our recent podcast “Service Evolved: Rethink your last mile service experience” featuring special guest Cami Zimmer of Glympse.

As Microsoft’s 2020 Global Partner of the Year for Connected Field Service, we know a thing or two about using technology to drive better outcomes in service. Please reach out to us if you’d like to discuss how we can help.

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