When it comes to fulfilling customer-service expectations, delivery companies today need to follow the example of field service operations, says Sullens. It used to be enough to ship a product days or even weeks after it was ordered. Now many customers want their orders in a day or less. In the case of grocery items, delivery might even be tied to a specific time, with an extremely narrow window.
Speed isn’t always of the essence, though. Customers these days tend to divide into two camps, says Sullens: those that want their orders immediately, and will pay a premium to get them, and those that are more cost-conscious, but still want deliveries to take place with a specified period of time, if not same-day. Either way, the tight windows that have long characterized the field service sector are now moving into the home delivery market.
At the same time, a growing number of customers want their orders faster, along with more visibility into the delivery process. Again, the model is field service, where customers demand notifications and updates about the location and expected arrival time of technicians.
The introduction of time and service constraints, long a hallmark of field service, adds a considerable amount of complexity to the mix. “It makes it very hard to execute on an efficient schedule,” says Sullens. “We’re starting to see more of constraints creeping into home delivery.”
Satellite tracking is a key aspect of the technology that’s needed to meet these heightening customer demands. Route-optimization systems need to provide data in a dynamic manner, rather than in a batch mode. Cloud-based applications are giving an additional boost to the technology’s ability to meet the new standards of customer service in home delivery.
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