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Live tracking and photos have elevated customer service at the game-room furnishings retail company
About a year ago, Billiard Factory, which delivers game-room furniture from 10 stores across Texas, Nevada, and Florida, was running on manual. Prior to starting a delivery, drivers would have to make phone calls to customers to let them know when their deliveries were scheduled to arrive. After the delivery, drivers would have to jot down any problems (like a scratch on a pool table) on a paper receipt that would sit in a truck all day and not be seen be a dispatcher until the following day.
All this manual work led to all sorts of potential for mistakes—before and after delivery. Some drivers would occasionally forget to call (meaning they could show up unannounced with a pool table in-hand) and others weren’t very comfortable talking on the phone. After a delivery, Billiard Factory had very little immediate visibility of any problems or customer complaints.
But Billiard Factory has now conquered these problems after adopting GetSwift’s driver and customer apps. Before a job, a text message gets automatically sent to customers giving them a live tracking link and an ETA, allowing them to plan their day around the delivery. And when drivers complete a job, they’re now automatically prompted in their GetSwift app to take photos, get signatures, and type any notes. This data is immediately seen by dispatch.
“Now, we get instantaneous feedback not only with notes but with pictures,” Ken Santoro, the IT Director at Billiard Factory, said. “We can take action on those issues before the driver gets down the street.”
“We get back to the customer before they even have a chance to call us or write a bad review,” Santoro said.
The big benefits of the app: Visibility and Automation
For one of Billiard Factory’s most senior installers, Patrick Disney, and his colleagues, the app has been a game-changer. Now, with the click of a button saying he is on his way, the customers he serves get a live ETA. He also clicks when he’s at the job (to let dispatch know) and when it’s completed. If you’re counting, that’s only three times that he interacts with the app during an entire delivery.
“It’s a very simple process. I can’t really complain about the little bit that I have to do,” Disney said.
But the biggest benefit he’s seen is how much the automated alerts and live tracking help customers plan their day.
Disney told the story of a customer with a beach house an hour-and-a-half from Houston, where she was at the time. “By getting her that automatically-sent GetSwift text, she was able to drop a few things, head out to the beach early, and meet us at almost the exact same time that we arrived,” he said.
“They love knowing where the drivers are at,” Santoro added. Since using the app, “customer satisfaction is way up.”
While it doesn’t happen often, something can go awry –like a driver makes a mistake or a foosball table arrives damaged—customers end up happy because the problem is immediately addressed.
“While we can see some customers are disappointed that the product came in damaged or there was a scratch, a driver will still get a 5-star review. A lot of that has to do with the driver’s know-how but a lot has to do with transparency,” Santoro said.
Using GetSwift To Elevate Their Game
Now that they have so much more transparency into their delivery operation, Santoro sees endless possibilities.
First, sales reps—who also have access to the GetSwift data—can manage all their sales cycles more effectively. The day after delivery, they can make follow-up calls armed with the photos and notes from the day before. Second, Billiard Factory can start turning installation data into business intelligence: When they know exactly how long each piece of furniture takes to install, they can plan accordingly.
Most importantly, GetSwift has helped Santoro with his #1 IT initiative: wowing customers.
“GetSwift brings transparency to our deliveries and takes our game to the next level. It’s the final piece when it comes to perfecting delivery and wowing our customers,” Santoro said.
To learn more about how GetSwift’s smart delivery platform can elevate your business, Get in touch with us.
Why SMS Alerts are key to any delivery experience
Some delivery businesses we work with at GetSwift have their doubts about SMS Alerts. One common worry is: “If I send SMS alerts, will I bother my customers?”
In a word: No. Predictable delivery is not just a convenient, nice thing to have anymore—it’s expected. Your customer is building how they spend their day, night, or, in the case of large delivery like a couch or a refrigerator, their week around this delivery. Text messages are a great way for customers to manage their time, interact with your brand, and even get prompted to contact your team if they need to change the delivery time.
Text alerts have also become common courtesy. Remember the days of sitting on your couch wondering when your Chinese takeout will arrive and having no idea if you can take a shower or walk the dog—or not? Those days are long gone.
The best part? Automated SMS alerts can be set up in minutes on GetSwift. You can learn how easy that is on our support page.
As you set up SMS alerts, here are some awesome things you do to add a flourish to your messages:
First, you can automatically personalize each SMS Alert just by adding a field for the customer’s name and the driver’s name when you set up your alerts. You can also choose to add links to a Live Tracking Map, Live ETA, or a feedback form.
Second, you can add your own branding. Write the message in your tone of voice and choose the name of the sender that pops up on your customer’s phone.
Third, you can choose which events will trigger an SMS alert. Here are the events that could trigger an alert: New Job Started, Task Accepted by Handler, Delivery En Route, Delivery Completed, and Delivery Cancelled. Choose all 5 or just one.
In sum, giving customers an accurate prediction of when their delivery will arrive is a must-have for delivery businesses, and SMS alerts a great way to do it. With GetSwift, you can customize those messages to your needs so that your customers are kept informed, at ease, and, most importantly, excited about your products and their delivery.
How HERB built a brand on fast delivery, with a little help from GetSwift
Over a half decade ago, before recreational marijuana was even legal in California, Bobby and his business partner at Los Angeles-based HERB started thinking about delivery.
Nearly everyone receiving delivery of that beloved green herb had an experience that left something to be desired: quickly opening the doors of an unfamiliar car, no clue who the delivery person is, no real explanation of the product. And also potentially unsafe.
When Bobby founded HERB, which has since become a delivery service known for its customer service and ultra-quick delivery times (just look at reviews on Leafly or Google for proof), with routine 30-minute deliveries in the notoriously congested city, he wanted to radically change the notion of user experience when purchasing cannabis products.
“We wanted cannabis users to achieve the same level of convenience that they were achieving in all other aspects of their lives,” Bobby said. “You can order coffee to your office or your home, you can get food delivered any time you want. Why not cannabis?” he asked.
The Early Days
From the start, HERB decided to build its business on two pillars: being digital first and giving world-class customer service (both, of course, include delivery). Simply creating a website helped them stand apart. Five years ago, most cannabis retailers didn’t even have a website, so the fact that HERB built one that looked nice with a wide product selection and in-depth product descriptions was groundbreaking.
In terms of customer service, Bobby knew that creating the right experience for users meant giving them knowledge and attention. He said consumers had been misled about cannabis for a long time and it was HERB’s role to come in and help educate them.
In the early days, “Our customer service line was lit up all day long, where we would literally just talk to people—15-, 30-, 45-minute conversations—about what they wanted to achieve through cannabis use and how they might be able to get there,” Bobby said.
Scaling Up & Transforming Delivery
Customer service, of course, is also about speed and convenience, especially since the competition is fierce. If you’re not consistently fast, customers have the option to just walk to a dispensary to purchase flowers.
The company has since been able to promise that speed to customers, offering “Free, Fast Delivery” that will “arrive anywhere from 15-45 minutes” right on their website. (That’s in contrast to the normal delivery time promised by competitors, which is typically over an hour, Bobby said).
As the company has scaled up, the way to achieve that speedy delivery has changed, though.
In their first year, Bobby and his team were dispatching and communicating to their handlers via text message, something that at a small scale, worked just fine. But soon after, they started using the GetSwift platform to keep track of hundreds of deliveries and dozens of routes at once.
“As we began to scale, dispatching and routing became a really complex thing to do,” Bobby said. “Keeping all the information straight, keeping the routes straight, and ensuring that everything is going as planned, is really a feat in itself.”
“Without using a logistics platform like GetSwift at the scale that we’re at, it would be very difficult to execute on the promises that we make our customers,” he added.
GetSwift Gives Flexibility, HERB Nails The Execution
For Bobby, the beauty of GetSwift’s platform is its adaptability.
“The platform is built in a way that it’s easily customizable, so if you need to add or delete fields, if you want to go automatic dispatch as opposed to manual dispatch, you can do all of those things...It’s very open source,” Bobby said. And the fact that he can call GetSwift’s team if a problem arises and quickly get an answer has been a big help, too, he said.
However, the software is just the foundation. It’s the execution that makes HERB stand out from competitors, Bobby said.
“How you use (GetSwift) and how well-trained your employees are and how much they’re hustling is truly what makes the difference at the end of the day,” he said.
The Many Facets Of Delivery Experience
When you take a look at reviews of HERB on Leafly, you quickly learn what customers like about the HERB platform, and they are all things that a last-mile logistics platform can help businesses achieve.
On Leafly, customers raved about the fast sign-up:
“The delivery service is amazing, quick verification and easy ordering.”
And the Live Order Tracking and SMS Alerts:
“Herb is the best service. I’ve used them for over two years now. They allow credit cards upon delivery and they use a convenient app to track your order!”
And the flexible payment options:
“Herb is great! Wide selection, arrives in a timely manner, friendly delivery people, and arrives in a cute box. You can use a card or cash and the checkout is easy. I use Herb exclusively!”
Finally, it looks like you can’t beat their speed:
“They always arrive in like 30 minutes or less! Fastest of all the deliveries! They are super professional and each delivery comes in a cute little package with info on your product.”
The reviews go on and on (in the hundreds). But if you think HERB is going to rest on its laurels (or its flowers), you just wait. This is just the start of Bobby’s big ambitions.
“Our primary goal is maintaining our status as the best delivery platform in the state and hopefully we’ll be able to expand nationally and worldwide at some point,” Bobby said.
To learn more about how GetSwift’s smart delivery platform can elevate your business, Get in touch with us.
By Joel MacDonald, GetSwift co-founder
When I led Liquorun, a delivery startup I co-founded in Melbourne in 2013, my team and I started out every day with a series of questions: “What was the weather going to be like? Any sporting events? How many drivers do we have? What did business look like on this day last year?” Using this data, we planned our day.
But it didn’t always work out as planned—a common problem in this line of business. Some days we got slammed by unexpected problems, causing all of us who would normally work the phones to hit the road ourselves in cars, bikes, and scooters. Here’s the story of one of those days, how we got through it, why we added another question to our daily repertoire, and the steps we took to make our delivery operation much more efficient and effective—steps that you and your team can take too.
Here’s what happened…
One day, most of our drivers called in sick. It was bizarre, we had no idea why it was happening, and we were scrambling. Only later did we figure that India was playing in a big cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and many of our drivers at the time were of Indian descent. Not only did we have to deal with the traffic that comes with a major sports event, but we didn’t have enough handlers to work a busy day of deliveries (some of which were probably fans ordering a beer to watch the match).
It was chaos. I was on the road and our staff that normally handles calls was too. It was painful.
The first lesson: include more data in your model
The cricket match taught us lots of lessons. First, we had been excluding some small yet critical data: sporting events. We started entering that into our models we used to determine how large of a fleet we’d need that day, and when and where to deploy drivers.
Second, we developed a crucial strategy: let’s keep a contingency fleet—a group of drivers who would get a bonus if they were ever called up—at the ready. These days, we see this model in the form of the more sophisticated surge pricing from companies like Uber and other urban logistics platforms.
How’d we determine if the backup fleet was needed? We took a look at the historical data, asking how often orders were placed in our different delivery zones (this was very manual still). If the demand was much higher than the supply of drivers, we knew we needed to have the reinforcements in that zone. That evolved into a program running in the background that would advise drivers to stay in a certain area because deliveries would be coming and dramatically helped planning the roster each shift (a program that, with others, would eventually evolve into Version 1 of GetSwift).
The next step: make a list of your challenges
A shortage of drivers is just one issue your delivery operation may face. Your next step is to break them all down, one by one. Some examples could be:
long trip times
long trip distances
high peaks and low troughs of demand
customers not knowing where their delivery is
Let’s take a look at the average time of the trip. If you export all your trip times into an excel sheet with some other basic information like destination, starting zone, time of day, distance, the number of drivers in your fleet, you can start to learn a few things. Look for outliers—any trips that took a really long time—and eliminate them. See how much it affects the average. If the result is a much lower average delivery time, you might consider doing what we did at Liquorun, consolidate your delivery zones.
Although eliminating one or two zones means losing some potential customers, you will likely gain something much more important, the customers who are delighted regulars and buy more, which outweighs the cost of a lost customer that you might have originally wanted to service. A similar analysis could remove one low-performance driver from your data. If that significantly improves your delivery time, maybe it’s time to have a hard conversation with that driver.
In sum, think of your operation as an organism and look at it from a macro standpoint. Every single data point impacts every other data point within the organism. To keep the organism healthy, sometimes you need to pull out or add a couple of data points. And folks, this optimization never ever ends! You have to keep testing and refining to keep getting better.
Test, test, test. Then test.
Finally, real-world testing, aka trial-and-error, is the key to improvement. That’s the only way you can learn if your theory, based on data, helps your business. You can test literally anything—from what might happen if you eliminated two delivery zones to what if you doubled your fleet size.
Your tests can go beyond driver management into marketing and e-commerce. For Liquorun, it was as simple as changing the button color on the home landing page from green to blue. Once we did, we were surprised at the outcome. We started getting 30% more visitor entries to our menu page. Be curious. What else can you improve? It’s really fun and you can find profound results. Test against your bias and let the data tell you the story.
Where to go from here
Being a delivery operator is a day-to-day grind. But there are concrete steps you can take—even beyond calling platforms like GetSwift and Delivery BIZ Pro, a platform we recently acquired—to solve a lot of your pain. Starting today, you can dig into the data and test it out on the road. In doing so, you’ll not only be making immediate improvements but also laying the roadmap for your future success, so you can conquer the chaos of delivery and start loving your last mile.
Interested in conquering the chaos? GetSwift can help you start improving your delivery operation in hours. Get in touch.
GetSwift allows this Meals-on-Wheels provider to put real-time tracking in seniors hands. Real-time tracking of deliveries is the new norm, and it’s working even for folks we sometimes assume aren’t so hip with technology: the elderly.
A new partnership between GetSwift and Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) in Massachusetts is allowing older people who rely on free hot meals to accomplish all sorts of new, important tasks: track their meals in real time, receive text message notifications, cancel orders, and more.
The older generation is getting it done right from a simple SMS message to their smartphones—being able to track the location of their hot and cold meals, snacks, and frozen foods in real-time. SCES alone served more than 240,000 meals last year, part of the over 2.5 million Meals-on-Wheels delivered across the country.
Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) utilizes GetSwift to send text notifications when a delivery is scheduled and when the meal is on its way, which is crucial because we all know there’s nothing more important than a fresh, healthy meal.
For SCES, the GetSwift platform allows them to improve their customer service, become more efficient, and reduce food waste. Their customers no longer have to call them to check on a driver’s ETA—instead seniors can see the driver’s route in real-time, along with an ETA, right on their smartphones.
S.C.E.S implemented GetSwift with its client base last fall and both their drivers and customers are benefitting from the upgrade in technology.
GetSwift is a global leader in delivery management automation and is proud to be in a supporting role behind SCES, a nonprofit elder services agency that’s dedicated to helping people maintain independence and well-being at home, by providing services, supports, and information.
For more information about how GetSwift can transform your Customer Experience, contact firstname.lastname@example.org