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Michael Ridlen
Home Delivery and Inclement Weather Planning
2010.03.17 21:26:10
Snow, snow, snow, and more snow. The winter blasts over the past few months presented a number of challenges across the country. For 3PL and home delivery providers, these challenges become some of the focal points that your company's reputation is built upon. It's not just a matter of how good your delivery service is when there are no obstacles, but how good your service is when you have to overcome obstacles, and double digit snow fall can certainly present one big obstacle!

While customers will understand why deliveries cannot be made while the snow is falling outside their window or their driveway is piled up, there is still the expectation to be informed. They have a significant financial and emotional investment in the delivery product, so they need to know what is going to happen next with that product. This point is where the "disconnect" usually occurs. The customer does not need to know and does not want to know the whys and wheres of your operation. They just want to know when they will receive their item. Keeping the customer informed of the basic information without any other "clutter" will go a long way in preserving customer satisfaction. 

Utilizing available technology to inform the customer as early as possible of the new delivery date helps you maintain control of your delivery scenarios and capacities while keeping the customer in the loop. Additionally, most customers will have their own additional aggravations brought on by the inclement weather, so having one less call to make will usually be a plus for them. When customers do have to call back in, if you do not have a live person answering the phones, make sure that your voice mail systems have been updated with your company's latest information regarding the weather and that you are consistently clearing and responding to messages. Preventing or quickly resolving any uncertainties in your customers' mind is one way of preserving the level of service that your customer expects, especially during a trying time.

In addition to communicating with the end customer, 3PL companies also have to maintain good client communications. The client needs to know when/if you are going to be open, will you receive merchandise, what information is being communicated to their customers, and other vital items.

It's imperative to have your weather response plan developed and presented to your clients as early as possible. Once finalized, work with them to determine how the delivery product will be handled. One major point that is often overlooked here is to plan for each equally important phase of the pre-, during, and post-storm. Delayed product will be arriving in a surge after the roads have cleared, and there are possible changes to your normal delivery schedule that should be determined in advance. Finally, continual updates to the client's designated contact is essential. Just because you know what your team is doing does not mean your client is clear on the matter. Do not assume! It is your responsibility to make sure they are informed.

With spring drawing near and the possibility of further snow events decreasing, it would be easy to minimize the importance of having inclement weather action plans in place. However, this is the best time to develop and refine your plans - before they are needed again and after going through a significant snow event. Reacting to a weather event is something you do not want to do on the fly. Being proactive and taking the time in advance to do some serious brainstorming on these issues will reap tremendous benefits for your company, your customers, and your clients the next time the snow is piling up to the windows.



Tags: Home Delivery America | customer service | home delivery | business relationships | 3PL | snow | planning


 

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