What is Automated Appointment Scheduling?
Typically when a customer purchases an item that requires special delivery (installations, white glove, etc.), a representative from the shipper’s customer service organization may follow up over the phone to set up an appointment. An appointment may be needed because the customer is required to be present in order to let the delivery service company in on their premises for doing an installation, or if the merchandise is high-value and someone from the customer’s side needs to be physically present to receive it. Sometimes the shipper contracts third-party delivery service companies to do delivery and installation of their products, and a follow up is required to confirm the available times for delivery.
This has been a mostly manual process with the shipper’s customer service agents acting as a go-between to ensure that delivery is scheduled at a time that works for the customer as well as meets the delivery capability of the provider. However, things can fall through the cracks if the customer has the last minute change in their availability, or if the delivery service provider has a schedule change. Today customers have come to expect real-time updates about their purchases on their smartphones. They prefer receiving information that they can access at their convenience instead of being required to interact with customer service on the phone.
Keeping this trend in mind, the process of appointment scheduling can be “Automated” so that it can be managed over a smartphone without any hand holding by customer service representatives. Customers are able to receive a text message on their smartphones with an option to pick available slots for their delivery appointment. Once they pick a slot, they get a confirmation message. Customers can go back and change their appointment to another time slot if they have a change in their schedule without needing to call a customer service number and reference the relevant order number. The same information can be made available to the customer while placing an online order where they can pick an appointment based on their schedule as part of the checkout process. For store associates checking out customers in a store, the same information can be made available on the POS system so the customer can pick a convenient appointment time instead of having to wait for a follow-up call from a customer service person.
What are the benefits of Automated Appointment Scheduling?
- Automated Appointment Scheduling gives the control of scheduling delivery appointments to the end customer. This reduces the amount of resources needed for traditional phone-based customer service.
- Shippers can leverage their entire delivery network’s consolidated capacity and availability to schedule delivery appointments thereby optimizing their customer service capability.
- Shippers can reduce the number of no-shows for their deliveries by providing a way for customers to change their appointment based on changes to their personal schedule.
- Shippers can attain greater retention by providing a seamless checkout process where the customer is not left waiting for scheduling their delivery after paying for an order.
What are the best practices in Automated Appointment Scheduling?
An automated appointment scheduling system should have the following capabilities:
- Ability to configure service capacity for each network delivery contractor by the address of the delivery location, day of the week, time of the day, and type of delivery.
- Ability to adjust the network delivery capacity of a delivery contractor for a specific day due to changes in the availability of drivers, delivery vehicles etc.
- Ability to look at all applicable delivery contractors across the delivery network to determine the best possible provider to fulfill an appointment.
- Ability to send a text message to customers with a web link to choose from multiple time slots in the future and to confirm one of the offered appointment slots.
- Ability to reschedule appointments using a web link in the text message.
- APIs to retrieve available appointments to display to an end customer on an e-commerce website or on a POS terminal within a physical store.
- Ability to update the order with the chosen appointment slot so that it can be assigned to the right driver and routed by a delivery planning and execution system.
nuDeliverIt Appointment Scheduling
nuDeliveryIt platform offers all the appointment scheduling capabilities listed above seamlessly integrated with its network delivery planning and execution platform. This enables shippers to use a single system to engage with their customers to choose their appointments with delivery service providers within the delivery network, plan the delivery routes within their delivery network, track drivers throughout the delivery network, collect feedback from customers, and pass proof of delivery information back to their order management system.
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