7 Things That Make a Courier Service Great
As a business owner, you carefully consider every hire and every financial decision, always searching for that sweet spot where you can provide exceptional goods and services while making a profit.
By now, you probably know that no decision is trivial, and that’s true of your choice of a courier service, too.
You might think: “It’s just delivering goods from Point A to Point B. How hard can it be?”
But don’t fall into this trap, or the trap of contracting with the cheapest service you can find.
In reality, the choice of a courier company may be one of the most important business decisions you’ll ever make.
Your courier delivery company often serves as a public face for your company, representing your brand on a personal level to your customers.
In fact, if your business mostly operates online, they may be the only humans that your customers interact with.
So the quality of your courier service should never be left to chance.
Here are the seven hallmarks of a great courier service.
Not all courier companies are the same. The majority specialize in courier delivery of small items, packages and documents. While this may be perfectly adequate for your current needs, it doesn’t leave you much flexibility for growth.
In the future, you may require courier delivery for a variety of items: furniture, appliances, equipment, or perishable items like food or medication.
You may also want the option of offering special delivery features, like one-day or same-day delivery, or to expand your delivery area to a wider region, even worldwide.
Such offerings over the long term will be the qualities that distinguish you from your competitors and give you the edge you need to succeed.
In the past, consumers often had to put their busy schedules on hold in order to wait around for their courier to show up with expected deliveries. However, many are now rejecting this burdensome inconvenience.
These days, most consumers have come to expect rapid delivery of items. In most cases, they are willing to pay more for the convenience of receiving a product immediately after an online purchase, and they will readily choose a company that offers flexible delivery over a competitor who does not.
In addition, flexible delivery can end up saving you money on delivery costs, because it allows you to ship directly from a variety of physical locations. This is especially helpful if you end up opening shops and storage facilities in various regions.
If you’re stuck with a courier service that only delivers certain items, or to a limited geographical area, this can greatly limit the growth of your business.
This may be the most important quality of all. Everything about the success of your business depends on reliability. You depend on employees who do what they say they are going to do, and on contractors who follow through as well. Without this, you as a business cannot commit to follow-through in your relationships with clients and customers. A business with a reputation for being unreliable is unlikely to attract repeat customers or to garner positive reviews.
Your courier service is an essential piece of the reliability picture, and should not be overlooked.
At the end of the day, nothing else you offer really matters if you can’t safely deliver items to your customers at the time you say you’re going to.
It’s incredibly frustrating for customers to put their lives on hold while waiting for a delivery, only to have it show up late…or even not at all.
How can you tell if a courier service is reliable? One way to gauge this is by reading their online reviews on Yelp or Google.
If the majority of reviewers comment on their reliability, then it’s a good sign. But be wary of any patterns you detect in the reviews of items not getting delivered on time or of lost or damaged items.
It’s also a good idea to ask how many delivery drivers the company employs. If they are stretched thin, you may not always be able to count on timely deliveries, especially if you want to offer same-day service.
It’s impossible to tell whether or not a courier service is a good fit if you don’t know anything about them. And a truly great company has nothing to hide. They will gladly share with you details about their drivers and about their internal operations.
They should always be ready and willing to communicate with you, whether it’s about delivery schedules, delivery routes, pricing, or anything else.
It’s a good idea to ask about any technological apps or platforms the company uses to facilitate smooth communication. Such tools provide frequent updates on the status of each delivery, including its ETA. You can be notified at a glance if a delay has occurred, or if a driver encountered any problems with the delivery.
In the last ten or fifteen years, this kind of technology has transformed the delivery industry, making it easy to access detailed information about every aspect of the supply chain.
This transparency empowers you to communicate confidently and promptly to customers about their deliveries, enhancing their trust in you.
In addition, transparency allows you to make better decisions about the future of your business. Armed with the right information about schedules, pricing and driver availability, you are free to formulate a detailed strategy for success, optimizing all your assets to provide more goods and services more quickly.
It allows you to look at many different metrics to ensure that you’re working as efficiently as possible, and to evaluate your courier service as part of those metrics.
If you are going to offer fast and safe delivery service even during the busiest times of day all year long, you need a courier service with the capacity to support that.
Verify that the company employs adequate staff to handle the packing and delivery of multiple packages throughout busy times.
You’ll also want to check that they are equipped to deliver during peak seasons such as holidays and any local events, fairs or festivals.
It’s not just manpower that matters, but vehicles too. Does the company have enough vehicles to ensure that deliveries can continue to happen smoothly during busy times and seasons?
And of course, you’ll want to make sure that the company has a good maintenance schedule in place to ensure that all vehicles remain in good working order, as well as a backup plan to readily troubleshoot if a vehicle should break down on the job.
Try to be forward-thinking when evaluating a courier company’s capacity. Maybe they can sustain your business needs today, but what about the future? Ensure that the courier service has sufficient drivers and vehicles to sustain you as you grow.
Check that the company regularly engages in capacity planning to identify any possible bottlenecks or any ways that they can streamline their processes. Things can change quickly and a good courier service will be prepared to support that. You should be able to trust their ability to pivot in the case of sudden changes to the supply chain and that they are ready to scale up right along with you.
Ease of Use
As a business owner, your time is valuable. You simply can’t waste it troubleshooting a cumbersome courier service. Additionally, your customers expect a platform that’s easy to use where they can quickly place orders, either online or over the phone, and receive real-time tracking of deliveries.
You and your consumers should be able to view progress at every stage of the delivery process, from the time the item leaves your store to the moment it arrives on a customer’s doorstep.
Fortunately, today’s GPS technology makes it easy to provide these services. But it does no good at all if your courier service doesn’t offer them. So be sure to verify that they do.
Another great perk of today’s technology: some courier companies have the ability to capture electronic signatures and/or picture verification of packages, providing proof of delivery quickly and easily along with an extra boost of security and protection.
In some cases, you can even set up a regular time each day for the courier service to come pick up packages for delivery, making the whole process seamless.
It’s not just about the right apps and platforms, though. A good courier service will staff their phone systems with live people who can provide up-to-the-minute quotes and accurate delivery ETAs.
It also makes it easy for you to communicate more specific instructions regarding where to leave the package and who the contact person is.
This combination of cutting-edge technology and live support greatly reduces mistakes or misunderstandings, ensuring that everyone is on the same page in terms of prices, schedules, and completed deliveries.
Successful business owners strive for professionalism in all their interactions. This means putting any personal feelings aside to treat customers with respect and positivity. You have schooled yourself and your employees to provide service with a smile even when the circumstances are frustrating and difficult.
Don’t allow an uncaring or sloppy courier service to derail your standard of professionalism.
Spend time meeting with the delivery drivers who will be handling your orders. Do they make eye contact with a smile? Do they have the resilience and positivity to greet customers politely even if they’re having a bad day? These are the questions you need to ask before hiring them.
A polite and professional courier leaves your customer with a good impression which reflects on you. On the other hand, a courier who is rude or careless reflects poorly on your business in the minds of customers.
Part of professionalism is offering exceptional customer service. It’s not enough simply to do the minimum; your courier company should be ready to go above and beyond when needed.
Great customer service really shows itself when there is a problem like the loss or damage of an item during delivery. In cases like this, a superior courier company will work with the customer and do whatever it takes to resolve the issue.
Professionalism and superior customer service more than pays for itself in happy customers who will keep coming back. And it projects a positive image of your company to outsiders who may be future customers.
Successful business owners craft their budget very carefully. You know exactly how much you need to pay out and take in to hit your profit margin. In an ideal world, your overhead costs can be trimmed to the bare minimum that you need to function effectively. The projected cost of deliveries is a huge piece of that.
First of all, you must ensure that the courier company is reasonably priced and will not cause you to go over budget when you use their services.
Communication around pricing should be crystal clear with no hidden costs and extra fees. Find out exactly what you will be getting, and how much you will pay for it.
The best courier services will give you a free estimate so that you can get a clear idea of how much they charge ahead of time.
There should be separate pricing structures for domestic as opposed to international deliveries, and these pricing structures should be clearly laid out for you. Even if you’re not using any international services now, knowledge of their pricing may be a helpful guide in the future.
Also be on the lookout for any special deals that could help you save money.
Besides fairness and transparency, it’s also imperative that pricing structures are consistent; in other words, the same rules are applied to everyone across the board. This means the prices always remain the same without any random fees getting tacked on in special situations. A predictable and consistent pricing structure makes it easier for you to budget and plan.
By looking for these seven qualities in your courier service, you’ll be well on your way to delighting your customers with exceptional courier delivery service.
Q: Do you have any noteworthy stories about your deliveries that you’d like to share?
Gabe: “We deliver to a lot of big names. Just last week Jonathan, who is one of our best drivers delivered to Kate Hudson.
She immediately texted customer service directly, telling us that the delivery was so professional and quick, even giving a rating thanking us. I immediately let Jonathan and our team know about the feedback. Will Ferrell also really enjoyed a delivery from Saul a few months ago.
A lot of movie stars really do like the drivers who deliver really professionally and with a smile on their faces, and those all have typically been Metrobi drivers.”