Posted by Guru Rao

Amazon Prime has fundamentally shifted customer expectations (researchers call this the “Prime Effect”), and not just through two-day shipping. According to CIO contributor Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, many companies have followed in Amazon’s footsteps by updating customer-order status via text and/or email. Customers now expect to be kept informed – “when did my product ship, what stage of the journey is it in now and what’s its ETA?”

Of course, telling customers when things are going well is one thing. However, failing to notify them of delivery hiccups before they find out themselves can result in unpleasant customer support calls and negative reviews.

According to research by Intercom, customers are less likely to be dissatisfied if they’re proactively informed of an issue than they would be if forced to contact customer support. It really boils down to the fact that strong last mile delivery is about managing customer expectations, and that means molding their reactions to unexpected events – which is impossible if customers are the ones reporting those events.

While it’s a bit of a Catch-22, there’s a way out: transparency and exactness at the last mile.

Under promise, over deliver

Transporters, distributors and retailers can enable proactive customer updates, but first they need complete visibility into their own operations. This means having a unified view of where cargo is, where it’s headed and the timeliness of its arrival at the customer’s door.

For example, let’s say you know a fleet is behind schedule based on its location, and you know what orders are being transported by those vessels. You use this info to determine that there’s a possible delay and to identify exactly which customers may be affected by it. If you’re using an automated delivery tracking application like nuDeliverIt that integrates with your ERP, TMS and CRM solutions, your system can then be configured to automatically notify those customers of the change in delivery status.

And even if those shipments do arrive on time, it’s always better to under promise and over deliver than it is to let someone down.

Your customers will thank you for it

If you keep your customers in the loop, they’ll thank you for it. According to Forbes contributor Solomon Thimothy, likeability and trust start with transparency.

Give customers the gift of information, and they’ll give you their loyalty.

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The secret to better last mile customer service: Managing expectations