When it comes to life’s infuriating experiences, waiting for a delivery when you only have a vague estimate of the arrival time ranks right up there with printer paper jams, and sales calls during dinner.
Transparency is vital for healthy and stable customer relationships, especially when it comes to deliveries. Not only does it make the process more efficient for the business, but it results in a happier customer. They don’t want to be put on hold while a customer service operator makes multiple calls to track it down.
For leading supplier Iplex Pipelines, it took an average of six phone calls to estimate the expected time of arrival on a single delivery. Such a complex process made living up to the company’s motto of ‘Where they want it, in full, on time’ challenging.
The problem was trying to maintain tracking deliveries of approximately 100 vehicles with a customer base spanning 14 sites throughout Australia in an efficient manner. It was evident change was required to make deliveries smoother and to keep customers in the loop easier.
Streamlining Routes and Customer Communication
Since 2008, Iplex has worked closely with Teletrac Navman to implement effective strategies for a higher level of visibility within its business. This was achieved when they provided a solution to Iplex’s predicament with recommending Direct Route software.
Using product details and the destination, the software calculates the optimal delivery route and expected arrival time. The ability to be viewed in real time gives Iplex visibility of the truck’s delivery position. Customers who enquire about their delivery can be instantly brought up to speed. “It’s never been about tracking deliveries, it’s about giving customers the added service” says Ronnie Smolinski, the Logistics Strategy Manager at Iplex Pipelines.
The Benefits Of Visibility
As the company relies on subcontractors for its deliveries, there was a requirement for handhelds to be functional and intuitive to use. One of the main challenges faced was the transition from the older model handheld devices to the new ruggedised smartphones. Not only were drivers very comfortable with their old devices, they were wary of any issues a new device could create. Smolinski commented “Their biggest concern was: ‘why are you changing something that is already successful?’”
To put the subcontractors mind at ease Smolinski stated that Iplex explained the similarities of the old device to the new Android-based system and the benefits of additional functionality, including easier communication back to base while the road. “When they saw the device and what it could do, we won them over. It’s a lot more user friendly, easier to navigate with coloured and brighter screens.”
Working Smarter, Not Harder
The device itself, the Zebra TC55, is designed specifically for processing road deliveries. The outer body is both shock and water resistant and it can be quickly removed from the cabin once the driver arrives at the deliver site. Using the device’s scanner, the driver can scan the products’ barcode and get the customer to sign the sign-on glass.
Not only does this eliminate the need for paperwork that can be lost or damaged, but with very minimal effort, it creates clarity about what was delivered and when. Since the data is automatically processed through the phone and sent back to the office in real time, customers and fleet managers can be kept up to date through the delivery process from the time it’s scanned and put on the truck, and on the road. This reduces the need for drivers to stop and appraise everyone with what is happening.
Happy Campers And Cost Savings
Not only did this visibility improve the relationship between its customers, but Iplex’s hardware costs, halved in the five years since adopting the original device, with expectations of further cost savings in the future. Smolinski describes this as a “Wholesome system, delivering items and transparency to our customers.” With the new smartphones, Iplex can more effectively manage deliveries and customers to have an easier time receiving products.
It’s this functionality that enables Iplex Pipelines to offer customer service and differentiate themselves in the market and will continue to work with Teletrac Navman to refine its customer feedback process to gain even further insights into its customer service.