I recently noticed a driver for a popular chain of gas stations and convenience stores in the Northeast describe himself as a “driver/marketer.” We often talk about drivers as representing our brand out in the field and with our customers, but this stood out for me; here was a driver consciously describing himself as a marketer – a real brand ambassador.

Are your drivers this aware of the role they play? Are your drivers trained and coached to fulfil this function? Does the delivery process, including the technology systems and tools your drivers use, set them up for success?

With e-commerce on the rise, we read a lot about the importance of “final mile” delivery. But it’s really the “final yard” when drivers interact with customers – and it’s quite often the only interaction your customer will have with a human from your company.

It’s not enough to have delivery personnel who are pleasant, competent, knowledgeable and helpful (although that’s essential). Everything leading up to the delivery experience, as well as what happens over the final yard, also needs to impress. Making this happen starts back in the depot or head office with advanced route planning and execution technology, as well as proof of delivery systems that can make your brand stand out during the final yard.

Yes, even drivers will benefit from a tech stack. Here are some of the outcomes you can expect when they get it.

Keep customers informed and happy

On the day of delivery, your driver needs to show up when you say they will. That means efficient routes, achievable schedules and accurate delivery ETAs clearly communicated to customers.

With advanced route planning software, you can create accurate and reliable route plans that drivers can confidently achieve. Further, if you feed information from in-cab telematics systems into your routing software, you can track actual vehicle progress against your planned routes in real time. This means that if something goes wrong on the road, you can proactively communicate to all the customers likely to be affected, so your drivers can stay focused on their job without fear of encountering angry customers at every site.

Even better, with a system such as Paragon’s advanced electronic proof of delivery solution, fleXipod, which has track my driver functionality, you can provide customers with live, map-based status updates on the progress of their deliveries, which they can access themselves from a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

Knowing a delivery is an hour or fifteen minutes away means a customer can assess whether their staff have time to complete a specific task, or perhaps need to shift team members from the till to the receiving door. But it’s so much more than that. Informed customers get the message that you are on the ball, and that they are important to you, building trust and confidence in your service and your brand. They’ll then be ready to interact positively with your delivery brand ambassador.

Improve B2B and B2C delivery performance

Paragon offers different tools to support delivery drivers in doing their best to delight customers, whether in the B2B or B2C space.

For example, Product Care, a high-quality delivery and aftercare service, is using Paragon’s fleXipod system to increase the efficiency of its operational and customer service processes. Previously, a manual system lead to significant delays in receiving detailed job status data from the field. Now, delivery personnel can record proof of delivery via handheld devices, with the ability to input detailed information. The company says tracking orders in real time and responding quickly to any customer issues greatly enhances customer service.

An example on the B2B side comes from Warburtons, the largest bakery brand in the UK, which integrated real-time Navman Wireless GPS vehicle tracking with Paragon’s route execution solution to provide live and accurate data for monitoring performance and optimizing routes. The food distributor’s customer service was already at a high level, but they were able to improve it further with this technology.

Wincanton, a third party logistics provider (3PL), uses Paragon’s fleXipod proof of delivery and fulfillment solutions for its multi-client home delivery operations, helping the company’s delivery teams achieve the highest standards of operational excellence and customer service in line with each retail client’s stringent and unique requirements.

Streamline and standardize the delivery process

A proof of delivery system allows you to standardize the delivery process across all operations so that there’s a consistent level of professionalism during the final yard of delivery, across all drivers. For example, you can instruct delivery personnel to always put on protective footwear when entering someone’s home, or ensure temperature-sensitive products are delivered straight to a refrigerator.

An advanced proof of delivery system eliminates delivery paperwork at the delivery site, too. That makes life easier for the delivery brand ambassadors, as they don’t have to wield clumsy clipboards or juggle multiple documents. It also gives a modern, techno-savvy impression to the customer when they’re presented with a mobile unit to capture their signature and other information, including customer feedback.

Resolve problems faster

Compared to paper-based processes, a mobile proof of delivery system allows you to gather more information during the final yard and to receive it back at base faster so you can be more responsive.

If there’s a problem, the driver can instantly capture information, including photos and videos, and initiate real-time interaction between customer service and the customer, often resulting in problems being resolved on the spot. For example, if the metal casing of an appliance was scratched during transit, a customer may decide they are happy to keep it if the driver can offer an on the spot discount eliminating the cost of a return visit. If a convenience store order is short or wrong, the driver can initiate a delivery with the missing items immediately.

Giving drivers the right tools that allow them to be super-responsive to issues leads to happier customers that stay loyal to your brand.

Create happier drivers

Happy, relaxed delivery drivers are much more likely to give a great experience during the critical final yard of delivery than drivers who are stressed out because they are running late. Advanced routing and proof of delivery systems create delivery routes that are fair and achievable. When the day goes as planned, drivers feel more relaxed and in control and that will come across during their on-site interactions. They’ll better exemplify the goal of delivery drivers as brand ambassadors.

A final word on the final yard

Drivers are an important – and possibly overlooked — conduit for improving brand loyalty and spreading the good word about your business. To foster delivery drivers as brand ambassadors, you need to ensure they are relaxed, well-prepared and well-equipped. That means asking them to drive routes that are achievable, while also equipping them with smart tools that makes interaction with customers easy, intuitive and professional.

Getting great brand ambassadors behind the wheel will reflect well on your business in myriad ways. It is well worth investing in the technology to arm your delivery drivers with the tools needed to make a great impression. For more information about how advanced route optimization and proof of delivery technology can turn your delivery drivers into true brand ambassadors, <<get in touch>> with one of our experienced team.

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