Baseball season is finally here, and managers expect three things from their pitchers: the ball is delivered on time, in good condition (not hit out of the park) and in the right place (the strike zone).
The same can be said for parcel and delivery companies. Customers expect packages to arrive on time, in good condition, and in the right place (at the doorstep, not in the bushes down the street).
A poor customer review is equivalent to a pitcher who can’t throw strikes. You won’t be in business very long. Except in the non-sports world, a poor customer experience can lead to a negative online review – or even worse – an Instagram or TikTok viral video with the potential to severely damage a company’s reputation.
Before the complaints start to roll in, there’s a question you should be asking yourself: Are my drivers happy?
In short, driver satisfaction needs to be a priority when considering how to plan your daily deliveries. This year, we tasked the firm Adelante SCM to develop a research report surveying 28 industry executives in the last-mile delivery industry. The goal was to explore the link between driver satisfaction and customer satisfaction. As you would expect, they are tightly connected. A few takeaways:
- Eighty-five percent of companies strongly agreed that customer service in last-mile delivery will become a greater competitive differentiator in the next 1-3 years.
- Almost ninety percent agreed there is a direct link between driver satisfaction and customer satisfaction.
- The vast majority of those surveyed see the market for finding qualified delivery drivers as becoming “much more challenging” (46%) or “more challenging” (43%) in the next 1-2 years.
- Only 29% of respondents stated that they currently measure driver satisfaction.
All indicators point to a need for improving driver satisfaction to make operations run more smoothly. COVID-19 affected every profession, and delivery drivers are no exception. When the world shut down, last-mile deliveries heated up, experiencing unprecedented growth. Drivers have been pushed to their limits, reporting longer days than ever. Absenteeism is up, in addition to the overall shortage of drivers.
The American Trucking Association reports a shortfall of 60,000 qualified drivers last year, and that’s estimated to surge to 160,000 by 2028. Add in poorly planned, or even unsafe route plans, and you can understand the struggle to retain and recruit qualified drivers.
The good news is driver satisfaction can be improved. But how?
The obvious answer is higher pay and better benefits. Yet, it may surprise you, that was not the top response in the driver satisfaction survey. In overall votes, the top contributing factor to improving driver satisfaction was having a fair and consistent workload.
Having a fair and consistent workload starts with having better route plans. Your drivers need daily route plans that are fair, efficient, and consistent. They need to know where to go and build familiarity with the local geography. Better route plans help build route sequences that consistently align with truck loading zones so drivers can retrieve packages quickly. Better route plans emphasize safety, eliminate dangerous turns and maneuvers, prioritize same-side delivery, minimizing the need for drivers to cross the street to make deliveries.
Examining the relationship between customer satisfaction and driver satisfaction is just the first step in working toward improving the overall customer experience. Having a route plan that benefits the driver, the company, and ultimately the customer, is a home run.