Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Today when disruption, shift and change has been a buzz around us for everything we do – the way we search, the way we shop, the way we consume, the way we connect- it becomes very pertinent to not lose sight of customers. But this is easier said than done; many a times businesses tends to wear the Hat of business managers more than that of consumers, resulting in premature failure of models, business and solutions.

Today, consumers are getting impatient and the propensity for instant gratification is reaching new peaks with each passing day.

Customers journeys are getting complex, intermixed across channels and platforms is a norm of today whatever customers do today. At the heart of consumer behavior is a deep psychology of reducing the pain cycle of shopping, and hence the shortest, smartest & frictionless way of gratification will win.

Right from the choice of Endless Aisles, to the convenience of moment-of-truth deliveries, the Consumer Psyche is all about Simplicity of experience in Complexity of options. Customers live and transact in “micro-moments” which we need to win for our customers. These micro moments are spread across the consumer decision making journey and for brands it’s critical to stand to their promise at each micro moment.

Home delivery has been started as a convenience to customers but now with changing customer’s behavior, it’s a necessity for business to create core competency around this theme to create a base of delighted customers. Door step delivery has been on rise from gourmet to garments to multiple X. Covid has pressed the pedal even harder.

E-commerce orders have gone up many times. Even the other channels around home delivery picked up. Even for us at Spencer’s & Natures basket during pandemic our Out of Home business went up multiple times. Not only home delivery, but push on same day delivery and delivery within few hours have been on rise. Using technology, complex algorithms for routing, predicting and optimizing is becoming part of business.

Even today at Spencer’s we deliver F&M in 3 hours which is type of industries’ first in India by any organised retail. Even we have quick 1 hour delivery model to home. The concept of home delivery has evolved from a simple delivery model to altogether a differentiating element for customer’s experience.

Last mile delivery is the only chance where a brand has to actually meet the customer. This impression creates an image of your business and a less than perfect CX at  this stage could hurt your reputation. Hence, building a positive customer experience matters a lot in last-mile delivery.

“Home Delivery and Last Mile logistics is no more a simple convenience given to consumer but a commitment of brand to deliver what has been ordered in a committed timeline and this is becoming a core differentiator for Superior Customers Experience and ultimately differentiator for brands”.

Brands need to innovate and consistently evolve their models to champion hassle free delivery, encapsulating the flexibility of managing choice & freedom at delivery point including seamless  returns, exchange & connecting to the consumer at the right time.

The future of an impeccable delivery experience is constant use of predictive analytics to know when is the best time to deliver and leverage AI/ML to ensure delivery experience is optimised.

A research says that one of three buyers would easily give up a brand they used to love after just one bad experience. According to statistics, 83% of people say that knowing the delivery time of their parcel is the number one service an online brand can provide.

According to Gartner, more than two-thirds of companies now compete primarily based on Cx. So, to stand out, businesses have to invest in providing the best experience for their customers. Customer experience (CX) has become the most valued quality that a company can provide.

How can we leverage deliveries for CX? This requires a change in mindset that thinks People more than pincodes. The last mile customer experience is no longer about reaching destinations, it is about reaching people.

But it is critical to know what customers actually expect :

  • Speed
  • Convenience
  • Efficiency
  • Conduct, and
  • Communication

Therefore, to deliver the Customer Experience there must be :

1) Personalization

2) Managing, Meeting and exceeding customers expectation

3) Empathy to understand customer’s circumstances

4) Being trust worthy and transparent

I find a framework of 4Es to be as a guiding force to deliver CX through delivery:

Excellence across value chain

Delivery commitment are not marketing gimmick or a commitment of front end of organization alone. Entire organization has to echo this commitment. Therefore, it becomes important to align entire value chain to meet the changing demand curve of customers. This requires not only visibility of systems within systems but also a unified connected system which can enable organization to get Single View of Data (SVOD ).

Therefore integrating the data across business is of immense importance for business to be fast, flexible, agile and lean in planning, execution and relearning.

Once SVOD is established, Organization can easily use technology of AI, ML, Big Data, predictive analytics and Block chain  to build an agile and flexible organization to be responsive to the customers demand.

Engagement with Personalization

Personalization is key to create customer experience but without who actually your customers are, one can’t deliver personalization. The customer journey is at the heart of customer experience economics. Today, Customers journey getting complex across channels and social media, it becomes pertinent for business to integrate the customer’s journey across all channels.

Therefore, concept of SVOC is critical for business to explore and pursue. It’s a continuous learning journey for business where you integrate all the habits of customers on your platforms and sometimes even through third party platforms to get real time 360 degree view of customers.

SVOC enables you to personalize the communication, content, recommendations and even offerings of future at scale.

Execution with Empathy

Every strategy fails to deliver the commitment made to customers if the mind-set of organization and its people are not aligned to the brand promise. Culture supports the customer-centricity and the customer strategy.

It’s critical that CX can’t alone be a priority of marketing function but every employee needs to be in tune with the desired customer experience, with employees encouraged to anticipate customer needs and exceed their expectations.

Using technology to ease each transaction and interaction with customers – be it ordering, reverse logistics or even feedback capturing goes miles in increasing the stickiness of customers.

More you emphasize with customers, higher will be the efficiency and effectiveness of the execution. Learning from “Voice of Customers” is key to drive improvements and customer’s feedback is a barometer of the relevance and effectiveness of initiatives to deliver CX.

Ecosystem Partnerships

I am big believer of the concept of “Ecosystem Partnership”. Business has to collaborate not only with functions but also outside business.  As an organization, one has a limited Sphere of influence in the entire ecosystem and therefore it becomes very pertinent to realize that there is a much better and high impact capabilities can be created by leveraging ecosystem players and core competencies.

All said and done, if customers don’t find you transparent & honest, everything will fall apart. Therefore, I reiterate – Customer needs to be center for all initiatives, offering, technology interventions or new solutions.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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