Delivery: our advice for measuring and improving the customer experience
The customer experience is the foundation of any company but can also be its downfall—it’s a decisive factor in your success. In the retail sector, delivery and transport account for a sizable share of customer satisfaction, both for the end recipient and the company shipping product.
The first step to improving the customer experience is to learn how to gather and analyze voice-of-the-customer feedback from shippers and recipients by setting up a listening system. The resulting analysis will then enable you to identify the key touchpoints in the customer journey, and effective methods for improving each one.
In this article, our specialist offers you a full-fledged methodology for carrying out these steps integral to a positive customer experience, which are valid both for the transport and delivery sectors, as well as many other industries.
Customer experience: meeting higher expectations in B2C and B2B
The customer experience encompasses all the perceptions and emotions that a customer may feel before, during or after a purchase. It’s what results from the interactions a customer has with a brand or company, and serves as the basis on which a company develops its offering and services.
In transport and delivery, we are observing a major shift: customers’ very high expectations for B2C shipments are now becoming the norm in B2B. That change is being driven by the B2C e-commerce boom and its impact on transport and delivery businesses.
We’ve seen double-digit growth in B2C e-commerce for over a decade. According to FEVAD, the French e-commerce federation, it accounted for €129.1 bn, or 14.1%, of retail business in France in 2021. The federation also observed 11% growth in the number of French e-commerce sites. Some 527 million transactions took place in the country in the first quarter of 2022, a 5% increase year-on-year. And revenue from e-commerce jumped 12% in the first quarter of 2022.
Now more than ever, online sellers targeting retail consumers need to stand out from the competition to build loyalty and attract new customers. This differentiation strategy obviously involves the products, website and pricing, but the quality of the delivery service is also key, given its crucial position in the B2C business.
The primary challenge for B2C for the past several years has been providing a customer experience without “pain points”, i.e. without frustrations or difficulties during the ordering process through to the home delivery.
Transport and delivery services have been working to eliminate pain points in three main areas. They have improved their notification process to reassure and inform recipients before and during the delivery. They have expanded the range of delivery options (home, locker, neighbor, pick-up points, etc.) to let recipients choose the time and place of delivery. Lastly, they have optimized track and trace, adding real-time shipment tracking, driver geolocation, and the estimated time of arrival. That’s the path GEODIS has taken with its ON DEMAND service for B2C.
B2B customers have come to expect these same options and features.
To provide optimal end-to-end service, these exchanges need to be easy, smooth, and interactive. Making those improvements to the service provided to customers involves a key step: gathering and analyzing voice-of-the-customer data at each step in the customer journey, to gauge expectations and adjust the offering accordingly.
Measuring and analyzing the voice of the customer
The voice of the customer is a comprehensive customer listening system used to guide company decision-making, with a view to improving satisfaction, recommendation, and especially loyalty.
It’s become even more important now that companies are evaluated both on financial criteria and non-financial criteria such as environmental, social corporate governance (ESG) and customer experience quality criteria:
- SAT (customer satisfaction score)
- NPS (net promoter score) or recommendation score
- CES (customer effort score), which assesses the customer’s effort to achieve satisfaction.
Gathering and analyzing this voice-of-the-customer data, a vital process in the service industry, enables you to identify pain points—areas where there is room for improvement.
The challenge is twofold for logistics partners. Customer relations encompasses both the shipping party and the end recipient, which both have their own standards and expectations. So it’s important to gather the voice of the customer from both.
For insights into the voice of recipients, you can send post-delivery surveys by text message or email. The questionnaire should be quick and easy. This type of survey needs to allow the recipient to rate their delivery experience in a few questions, through an evaluation of delivery times, the quality of the interactions with the driver, or the care taken with the package.
The GEODIS Distribution & Express business line has administered this type of post-delivery survey after each B2C delivery for several years. 1.2 million surveys are sent each year. The response rates are high, at about 30%, demonstrating that consumers are eager to take part. More importantly, the recommendation score is remarkably high, between 60 and 70!
The results of these surveys are used to produce consolidated monthly reports, which GEODIS shares with its shipper customers. The company is able to work with them on an “open-book” basis, using customer feedback to find areas for improvement.
GEODIS even “closes the loop,” meaning that the GEODIS customer relations department systematically contacts recipients who left negative feedback in the previous day’s surveys, to understand their comments, identify potential pain points and correct them. After the initial surprise that the company is taking the time to learn about why they weren’t satisfied, a telephone call always has a “wow” effect on recipients. It turns unsatisfied customers into promoters!
"In a world where customers increasingly seek to identify with a brand rather than buy from it, it’s crucial for companies to create experiences that convert customers into loyal fans, rather than considering them merely as business transactions, notes the website Ab Tasty. “By measuring the net promoter score (NPS), companies gain a unique perspective on the different ways in which consumers experience their customer journey.” This has a long-term impact on the growth of their business.
Recipients are major purchase influencers for logistics specialists. A positive experience not only boosts repeat sales for the shipping party, it also enhances the logistics provider’s reputation.
Alongside the regular feedback integral to a quality business relationship, measuring the voice of the shipping customer generally involves an annual survey sent by email.
At GEODIS, shipping customers are surveyed every May via a quantitative questionnaire administered by a third-party market research firm, to ensure that the responses remain anonymous.
The survey measures customers’ overall satisfaction, their recommendation score and their effort score, but also digs deep into how the company’s performance is perceived at every point in the customer journey.
The second step is to analyze the results of these surveys and establish an action plan that guides the company’s decisions on how to develop its offering and service moving forward. So companies need to delve into the results for each physical or digital touchpoint in the customer journey, to identify targeted areas for improvement.
Identifying and optimizing key touchpoints with your customers
You need to work on the customer journey to pinpoint areas for improving the customer experience.
“Customer satisfaction and recommendations hinge on the quality of the customer journey.”
The first step is to identify the main touchpoints in your customer journey, both in the physical world and online.
Depending on your business sector, these may be your points of sale, representatives, customer service, or web portal—all points of interaction between your company and your customers.
At GEODIS D&E, we have decided to track and continuously improve seven touchpoints, from business relationships to billing.
For the past five years, we have been working to eliminate pain points in each of these touchpoints. Take billing, for example. It may seem of secondary importance, but it should actually be considered part and parcel of the service provided. Customers were critical of the lack of clarity and the inconvenience of paper billing. So we completely overhauled the process to make it more straightforward and easy to understand. We digitalized it to remove the annoyances of the paper trail, while enabling our customers to access full exports from the customer portal, so that they could easily check the data and integrate it into their own system.
As a result, in five years we went from 74% satisfaction in that area to 91%!
Here’s another example of our customer relations services. To ensure excellent customer relations, we have set up a program to completely overhaul how we do things, through training and latest-generation tools. All while preserving our DNA, namely our local presence: our customer relations departments are located in France, in each of our 110 agencies, not subcontracted or offshored. As a result, customer satisfaction has increased from 85 to 92%. Even more important is the fact that customer service is now the top reason why the company is spontaneously recommended!
To provide a quality experience for your customers, you need to streamline your customer journey by identifying and eliminating all the pain points for each touchpoint. You can do so by establishing a virtuous circle: listen to your customers by regularly conducting and analyzing carefully prepared surveys; build point-by-point action plans based on the results; and implement and monitor them diligently over the long term. That’s the key to offering seamless service to your customers and earning their loyalty!
Vianney Leveugle began his career in 1998 in the marketing department of Chronopost (GeoPost group), the leading French player in small parcel express delivery. He then participated in the Chrono e-liko adventure, a start-up specialized in last mile e-commerce delivery. In 2006 he joined the GEODIS group as Marketing Manager for the Distribution & Express business. In 2014, he was appointed Marketing, Communication & Customer Relationship Director and joined the Executive Committee.
He makes improving the customer experience, as one of the company's strategic focuses, especially through the redesign of the main physical or digital contact points of the customer journey, and the marketing of innovative, profitable and value-creating service offers for the company and its customers.