6 Factors to Consider in Choosing an Express Courier Service for Your Business
Since the pandemic, we’ve all come to rely on delivery services more than ever before, and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.
To stay competitive in this market, your business needs the ability to make fast, reliable deliveries to your customers.
The most cost-effective way to make this happen is by contracting with a courier service.
But how do you choose the right service for your needs? After all, a sloppy or unprofessional courier may do your business more harm than good.
Here is a handy list of six key factors to consider when making this critical choice.
Reliability: Choosing a Reliable Express Courier Service
Let’s face it: without reliability, nothing else matters very much. If your customers are left waiting around because of scheduling glitches or unreliable drivers, they may not come back to you again.
For better or worse, a courier represents you to your customers. If they do not feel like they can count on the delivery service, they won’t feel they can count on you, either.
Of course, there are many factors which can impact a courier’s reliability. Vehicles can break down. Delivery people can experience accidents or sudden illnesses. Bad weather may interfere with timely delivery.
Any professional courier service is aware that such events will happen. The key is making sure they have a contingency plan in place when a problem like this arises.
It pays to specifically ask the courier service what they would do in these worst-case scenarios.
What do they do if a delivery truck suddenly breaks down? What do they do if a driver is in a bad accident, or loses control of their vehicle on dangerously snowy roads?
The question should not be what they’ll do if such eventualities take place, but when.
If the service does not have a backup plan in place for these occasions, look elsewhere.
That said, you should be able to count on drivers and delivery personnel who are 100% reliable to the best of their ability. In addition, there should be evidence that the courier vehicles are in good condition and that they are serviced regularly.
Along with that, a reliable and professional courier will also be licensed and insured. That protects your customers from the results of theft or damage which might occur before they receive their package. Such thefts or damage may be out of your control, but having the right insurance covers your bases.
Furthermore, the needs of customers can change. Be sure to ask about the courier’s ability to adapt to last-minute alterations in the mode, time or location of the delivery.
Potential to Expand: Expandable Courier Service
At the bare minimum, any courier service you hire needs to have the ability to deliver to any area you cover. Don’t be afraid to ask directly about what areas fall within the service’s delivery radius.
It is definitely a red flag if a courier service claims that they can cover the desired area, even if they presently do not. Ideally, you want a service that already delivers to your customers’ area and has experience in doing so. However, it’s a mistake to content yourself with your present area. As a growing business, you need to know that you can expand if you want to, without being held back by the limitations of your courier service.
It’s worth it to ask how many drivers the service employs. Ask yourself if that number would be enough for all your needs, both present and future.
In addition to an expanding service area, you also need the ability to expand on the kinds of delivery services you are able to offer.
Do they deliver same-day or overnight? How about internationally? You may not care about these services now, but in the future they could be crucial to your success.
Ask about what they offer for order fulfillment, how many storage facilities they have, and where these are located. Ask about how they manage returns and remote collections. And ask about any zero emission policies they have in place.
This information will tell you whether they can scale up along with you whenever you’re ready to do so.
Having an excellent courier service in place is in fact one of your biggest assets when you’re ready to expand. It means that you can do so without taking a hit from shipping costs or from diverting your own employees to make deliveries.
Customer Experience: Exceptional Service
When your customers interact with your courier service, they see this as an extension of you. To that end, verify that all delivery personnel come across in a way that’s professional, pleasant and kind. Take some time speaking with the couriers who will be servicing your customers and ask yourself whether or not you enjoyed the experience. This is a good indicator of how your customers will feel, too.
Besides talking with the couriers, you can also learn a lot by reading online reviews. So head on over to Google My Business to take a look at what customers, past and present, are saying.
If most of the reviews are positive, you know they provide good-quality customer service. However, examine the reviews carefully for patterns which might be a red flag. Are items often damaged on arrival? Do they routinely deliver later than promised? If there are enough of these complaints, it may be a good reason not to contract with that company.
Be aware, though, that even an excellent business may have one or two bad online reviews. This in itself is not a dealbreaker. Just make sure there are more positive customer reviews than negative ones.
So what are the signs of a good courier service?
Pay attention to what customers say about timeliness. Do they routinely pick up and deliver in a timely fashion? If they promise same-day service, do they deliver on that promise?
In addition, take note of how easily you can get in touch with them when you need to. This means that when you’re running late or need to make any last-minute changes, you can count on being able to contact them promptly.
Finally, double-check that the courier service offers proof that items were delivered damage-free. This can save you a huge amount of hassle in the event that your product becomes damaged while in transit.
Technology: Advanced Delivery Technology
From planning the route, to optimization, to driver tracking, every stage of the process needs to flow seamlessly.
Having the right technology in place ensures that deliveries can be made in a timely manner, even if they are ordered the same day.
How can you tell about the quality of a company’s technology?
For one thing, you might ask how long they have been in business. If a courier service lacks the right technology, they will quickly fail. But if the company has been in business for a number of years, this shows they are agile in adapting new technology to improve their service. Creating a system that works takes a lot of trial and error, so if they’ve been in business for a long time, it’s a good sign that they have what it takes.
The company should have technology that allows for speedy, convenient service. Systems that allow you to receive and pay invoices quickly and efficiently will save you time and, in the long run, money. Online ordering should be a simple and intuitive process. GPS technology for tracking drivers and packages is a must-have feature which saves you money on shipping costs.
Other essential features to ask about include:
- The use of handheld devices during delivery
- Warehouse management software
- Tools to electronically capture, store and transmit signatures
- Barcode scanners to automatically record information about packages and items
- Radio frequency to transmit information between the warehouse and the delivery point
These solutions allow your courier service to easily organize, store and process large amounts of inventory while facilitating reporting of critical data. They minimize paper trail and reduce labor costs. This makes them more efficient and by extension makes your business more efficient, too.
Transparent Pricing: Clear Pricing
Your business depends on accurate communication about pricing. If express courier services consistently go over your budget, this can put a dent in your profit very quickly.
For that reason, insist on clear communication about pricing from the outset. Ensure with each price quote that this amount will be your final cost. If you notice any hidden costs that get tacked on at the end, this should serve as an obvious red flag.
Unfortunately, many companies have a practice of reeling the customer in with promises of low prices which they fail to deliver on. This is an unethical practice which your business would do well to avoid. It also complicates the process of comparing different services, since often you find yourself comparing apples to oranges based on what various companies include in their price.
When pricing is not transparent, you run the risk of intentionally or unintentionally passing some of those hidden costs to your consumers. And this can damage overall customer satisfaction not just with the express courier service, but with your company.
While it’s normal to slightly elevate prices on products for the convenience of door-to-door delivery, these elevated costs should be clear to you as well as your customers, and there should be no surprises. If price hikes are necessary, you need to know that they will be communicated beforehand so you can adjust your budget accordingly.
There’s more at stake than simply your bottom line. It’s also about attention to detail. Attention to every nuance of the pricing structure reveals that a company values those little details which make a big impact.
Lastly, the issue of transparent pricing has to do with honesty and trustworthiness. You want to contract with a company which follows through and does what it says it’s going to do, and that includes its pricing. Everyone benefits when working with a company that is straightforward and honest.
Ability To Represent Your Brand: Professional Representation
The most important thing to remember when choosing a courier service is that the drivers represent your brand. Your first impression of their employees will tell you everything you need to know about the impression your customers will have of them as well.
Your customers will not always make a distinction between your company and the drivers with whom they interact. In their minds, the image the driver portrays is the image of your business; the two are interchangeable.
So ask yourself if drivers and other employees represent you well. Are they pleasant and polite? Do they have a professional appearance? How are they dressed? Delivery drivers should express themselves appropriately at all times. Bonus points if the courier service requires drivers to wear a professional uniform when making deliveries.
Furthermore, any delivery driver representing your brand should demonstrate a commitment to customer service. They should treat each customer and each delivery with care.
And it goes without saying that every delivery driver should have a valid driver’s license and a clean record.
Don’t forget to monitor your impressions of any service vans or trucks they use, as well. To reflect well on you, any delivery vehicle must have a clean and tidy appearance.
As a business owner, you need to know that you can control your professional image in the public eye, and couriers/drivers are possibly the biggest conduit of that image. Don’t give up that control simply because you’ve contracted out. A reputable courier service will allow you a say over which individuals you prefer to work with. It’s your brand, and no one else should control it but you. Avoid any courier service that will not promise to honor your preferences. At the end of the day, the responsibility for good customer service falls with you.
Keep these factors in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to finding a courier service that boosts your efficiency, your customer service and your bottom line.