By David Slotow – The customer has changed – and companies that ignore this fact do so at their peril.
According to a recent Gallup poll, the biggest driver of business to business (B2B) success is meaningful customer impact and yet around 60% of customers are reporting that they’re indifferent in their engagement. Gallup took the research deeper and found that customer engagement had a multiplier effect on business growth.
For the supply chain industry, whether focusing on B2B or B2C (business to customer), customer engagement and delight are vital for long-term, sustainable success.
The answer may be: ‘to delight the customer’, but what path should the industry be taking to achieve this goal?
Customer expectations are consistently rising, driven by market leaders such as Amazon Prime, so to meet this demand the industry must consistently innovate and invest in solutions that bridge the gap between what the customer wants and how the business gets it to them. The key strategic enabler of this bridge is the driver.
The driver is the ultimate brand ambassador –not only ensuring that goods are delivered timeously, but also responsible for that final moment of delight.
While there is significant and impressive disruption in supply chain, most innovation is taking place in the warehouse environment and in transportation. The investment in transportation is typically only centred around hardware technology in the truck.
Until recently, little of this innovation focuses on the engagement with the person who is fundamental to ensuring that the customer is a happy and satisfied one.
Driver-led visibility harnesses the ubiquity of the mobile device to turn the driver into the central character of the supply chain show. By using specifically crafted applications and tools, the driver becomes the critical source of proactive, reliable and first-hand information for improved business operations.
In the past, live, realtime updates from the vehicle were only available via black box telematics, however mobility solutions that empower the driver have fundamentally shifted the level of engagement, insight and accuracy and this is finally resulting in material cost savings, and tangible improvements to customer experiences.
By fulfilling operational tasks independently while liaising closely with the customer where necessary, the driver shifts from just changing gears to changing relationships.
They extend the collaboration with operations by providing reliable information around delays, customer feedback, location and other issues that could impact on overall ‘on time and in full’ (OTIF) delivery. They can also work closely with customers to ensure that they have the right address and that they are delivering at a convenient time.
This has had proven results in changing how customers perceive a brand and their willingness to repurchase and refer, as well as improving the reliability of the deliveries themselves.
It has also had a marked impact on driver behaviour. Drivers that are rewarded objectively for their empirical success are more likely to take initiative and collaborate with business to improve operational efficiency.
Traditionally, drivers are only recognised for what they have done wrong. Changing the model to driver-led visibility turns tradition on its head, recognising drivers for what they have done right.
The narrative shifts from bad behaviour to good behaviour and creates a more positive approach to collaboration and engagement, and the results extend beyond employee happiness and into customer delight.
This disruption of how the industry tackles the customer service, ignited by the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of technology becomes a powerful business tool.
In the past, equipping a driver with a mobile phone would have been far too expensive to consider, today it is a mandatory tool that ensures driver, customer and business can operate efficiently.
Now, the drivers are the new frontier of customer engagement and they are the ones that cement the brand’s relationship with the customer – it is vital that the business empower and support them.
The industry has optimised trucks and roads and systems. Now it is time to recognise that the team of people so often overlooked are the ones capable of bringing the change we want in logistics.
David Slotow is the CEO of Trackmatic