How to Master Courier Management: What You Need to Succeed
We look at how you can create a process that lets your couriers deliver more packages in less time, while still meeting the expectations of your customers.
The goal of effective courier management is to get your customer’s orders to their front door as quickly, efficiently, and securely as possible. If you do that well, without doubling-up or backtracking, you save money because you’re moving more products in less time.
And you’re also boosting customer satisfaction. Based on surveys we’ve run, customers mainly want their packages delivered on time and in a professional manner.
Today’s guide focuses solely on optimizing the last-mile delivery part of courier management. That means we look at how you can create a process that lets your couriers deliver more packages in less time, while still meeting customer expectations.
Specifically, there are four steps you need to follow to make that happen:
1. Plan driver routes, and create an optimized delivery route for each courier.
Optimized routes save your team time. We’ve written about this extensively with case-studies from real customers, including prescription delivery couriers. Faster routes help make your delivery team more profitable.
2. Monitor routes in progress.
This lets you track your team’s progress and make any last-minute changes, like when a customer adds or cancels an order. This extra flexibility gives you a competitive edge, and lets you maintain your company’s profits even if big unexpected changes occur throughout the day.
3. Send order tracking updates.
Giving your customers an accurate ETA of when your couriers are arriving isn’t just good customer service, it also cuts down on the time you’re going to have to spend on making second delivery attempts or fielding incoming calls from customers who want to know where their package is.
4. Collect proof of delivery.
Collecting proof of delivery (POD) saves you time and money after your driver has completed the delivery. With POD, you can quickly help customers find their packages or solve any missing package disputes. Plus, it gives both your customer and your delivery team peace of mind.
Note: Previously, we’ve covered other aspects of courier management, including:
But today’s guide is all about the technical parts of completing your last-mile deliveries.
Creating Optimized and Customized Delivery Routes
Creating an optimized route is vital for any courier business, no matter the size. When the right drivers follow optimized routes, they get to their stops faster. Faster deliveries boosts customer satisfaction, and it also saves your courier company on labor and fuel costs.
And when you’ve got a whole team following optimized routes, you can also make more deliveries in less time, increasing your revenue.
Just to give you an idea of how this works on a small scale: one of our customers is an independent contractor. He was able to double the number of deliveries he makes in a day by using our route optimization software. He’s making more money and he’s working less. Imagine experiencing those savings, but for every single courier on your team.
How to Customize and Optimize Your Delivery Routes with Circuit for Teams
Circuit for Teams uses an advanced route optimization algorithm. It factors in time, distance, speed, traffic patterns, and several other critical factors. You can optimize routes for just one driver, or for several drivers at the same time.
First, you start adding stops to your account (either through our mobile app, available for both iOS and Android devices, or through your web browser). You can do this manually, or you can import a spreadsheet if you’re using our web browser app or an Android device.
Importing a spreadsheet is definitely faster, and this is our recommended method if you’re handling dozens or hundreds of stops every day. For more info about importing spreadsheets into your Circuit for Teams account, read: Importing spreadsheets in Circuit.
Once your delivery stops are added, you can then customize the route by selecting priority stops, time windows, and an estimated average time per stop.
- Priority stops: If you need to make certain stops ASAP, you’d set them as priority stops. For example, if you offer expedited shipping as part of your delivery service, then you’d use this feature to mark the stops who paid extra to get their order earlier. Then, when you optimize your route, Circuit will put that stop first in line.
- Time windows: You can tell Circuit for Teams when specific stops need to happen. For example, let’s say you’re delivering to a local business that closes at 3pm. You can customize their time window so your couriers will make their stop before the business shuts its doors.
- Average time per stop: You’re helping Circuit create the most accurate and efficient route possible when you set the average time per stop. Your optimized route will change depending on how long your driver is expected to be at each stop.
For example, if you’re a medical courier, your driver may spend 30 minutes at each stop. If that’s the case, the number of stops they can make in a day is drastically different from a courier who spends 2 minutes at a stop on average.
After you customize your route, then you select how many couriers you want to manage. Next, you tell Circuit for Teams to optimize the route for that whole group of couriers.
Your drivers will then use the free Circuit mobile app to get hold of their route. Our mobile app works side-by-side with all the popular navigational tools, such as Google Maps and Waze. So, your driver will use their preferred navigation app for turn-by-turn directions to get to their stop, and Circuit for Teams will calculate the next stops and the route to take.
Monitoring Routes in Progress (Tracking Couriers)
When you’re managing a team of couriers, the reality is the route will change as the day goes on. Perhaps there’s unexpected traffic that’s led to a congested highway. Or maybe a customer calls in and cancels their order or needs to receive their order later in the day.
An important part of mastering courier management is adapting to new challenges without sacrificing the savings you were making by creating a highly optimized route.
When you use Circuit for Teams, you can do this by using our route monitoring feature.
Because your couriers are using our mobile app and GPS tracking, you can get near real-time updates of where they are within the context of the route. This means you don’t just see what street they’re on, but what stop they completed, where they’re headed next, and the updated ETA for the customer.
This is helpful when you need to make changes to the route.
You can change the route from your web app, and the changes you make will show up on your driver’s mobile app. Or your drivers can make a change to the route and swap stops, if something comes up that gets in the way of their next delivery.
Giving Order Tracking Updates
If you don’t give your customers order tracking updates, two things are going to happen:
1. Recipients are left in the dark, which hurts customer satisfaction.
Customers don’t want to have to guess when their package is arriving. If you’re delivering to a business, then they might be waiting on their delivery so they can fulfill their own orders. If you’re delivering to a residential area, then your customer might be waiting for your delivery before they go out and run errands or hop in the shower. Without tracking updates, your customers are stuck waiting, which is a bad experience.
2. Your customers are going to call you to get delivery updates.
Because no one likes being left in the dark, your customers may reach out to your company to get an updated ETA. Now you have to stop what you’re doing and look up their order and find out where it’s at within the route. While this is pretty quick with our route monitoring feature, imagine doing this 10, 15, 30 times a day. It’s much more efficient just to send your customer updates.
When you use Circuit for Teams, you can automate the entire process of sending out delivery updates. When your courier starts their route, customers get an SMS message, or an email. That message tells them the ETA of their package based on the optimized route.
The message also includes a link which they can click to watch a dashboard, updated in real-time, of where their courier is at and their updated ETA.
And as your courier gets close to completing their stop, the customer gets another message, telling them that their package is 10 minutes out.
Collecting Proof of Delivery
The last part of completing a delivery is collecting proof of delivery (POD). POD gives both you and your customer peace of mind. Research shows that the 2nd biggest concern for our customers (after getting their package on time) is that their package is left in a secure place.
With Circuit for Teams, your drivers get proof of delivery in two ways — a picture of where they left the package, or by getting a customer signature.
- Photo capture: With photo capture, your driver takes a photo of where they left the package and uploads it through the Circuit mobile app. The customer gets a notification that their delivery was completed, and a copy of the photo is sent directly to the customer so they know where their item is located.
- Signature capture: If you’re delivering something that has age restrictions, is pricier, or simply just needs a signature capture, then you can still use the Circuit mobile app. The app turns your driver’s smartphone into a trackpad, where the customer can sign for the package with their finger.
Next Steps: Starting Your Free Trial with Circuit for Teams
In this article, we’ve looked at how your courier services can benefit from the advanced functionality of Circuit for Teams. Circuit for Teams lets you:
- Optimize routes for speed (while customizing them for your customer base).
- Monitor routes in progress (and easily make changes as needed).
- Send out order status updates to your customers, keeping them in the loop.
- Collect proof of delivery, giving both your team and your customer peace of mind.
Combined, these features help give a better customer experience to your clients (more accurate ETAs and faster deliveries, while also increasing your delivery teams’ profitability (it will literally cost you less to make a delivery when you use Circuit).
To see how easy and beneficial it is to manage your delivery process with Circuit, start your free trial today.
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- How to Streamline Processes as You Grow Your Courier Business
- How to Compete Against Amazon Courier Services
- How to Add Hassle-Free Local Delivery to Your Small Business (great for eCommerce companies)