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Tag: customer service

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

Comments 72 | Hits: 6323 |

Michael Ridlen
Cash for Appliances - A Quick Primer
2010.02.17 10:58:49
Given the recent publicity from different channels regarding the "Cash for Appliances" programs, there is a definite possibility of confusion regarding what actually constitutes the program and what appliances are eligible.

Unlike the prior automotive Cash for Clunkers, this program is administered by the individual states resulting in a wide variance of dates, criteria, model eligibility, and procedures depending upon where your customer lives. Being properly informed on the particulars of your state's program will help you better take care of your customers' needs - before and after the sale. There is also a good resource database

Each state received funding in proportion to its population. Some states such as Kansas and Delaware ran out of money much sooner than expected. If possible, stay up to date on how much money is left in your state's program and keep your sales staff informed (New York still had nearly $11 million left in its program as of 2/16). 

Additionally, make sure to show your customers how to file for their rebate (and any deadlines) as well as providing any forms for haul away and recycling of the old unit. A few minutes of review with your delivery teams on these important topics can avoid any customer misunderstandings.

Finally, check for any additional energy or recycling programs available that can be added to the federal rebate (New Jersey and California are examples of this). There is a potential for increased sales by utilizing the availability of these programs.

Here are some highlights from a few states:

California - Program begins April 22, 2010 with $35.2 million allocated. Appliances included are washers, refrigerators, and room air conditioners. The rebates will be in addition to existing California energy initiatives.
Click here for more info

New York - Program started Feb. 12th and is currently slated to end on Feb. 21st with applications having to be postmarked by March 15th. Appliances included are refrigerators, washers, and freezers with a extra rebate for providing proof of recycling the old unit. There is also an option for an appliance bundle purchase that has a $500 base rebate plus an extra $55 for recycling.
Click here for more info.

New Jersey - Program will be part of NJ's existing Clean Energy Program which already offers rebates on selected Energy Star products. The national program will not start until April (probably around Earth Day), and details have not been posted yet.
Click here for updates.

With the amount of local publicity accompanying each new roll out, there will be expected spikes in business. However, the better informed your sales and delivery staffs are, the better positioned you will be to take advantage and generate additional immediate sales as well as future repeat customers.

Tags: appliances | 3PL | customer service | positive news | home delivery | cash for appliances

Comments 58 | Hits: 28827 |

Michael Ridlen
New Year's Review
2010.01.22 11:59:21
January offers us a time to reflect and review opportunities for system improvements, increased efficiency, and cost reductions. During busy holiday sales, operations and procedures are truly tested for maximum productivity and consistent integration from our clients to our customers.

At Home Delivery America, we consistently strive to make the delivery process as seamless and pleasant as possible, especially during the holidays and other high volume periods. We do this by initiating a proactive outlook in reviewing all of the support processes that go into making deliveries, from the beginning receiving the product from the client or manufacturer to the final step of providing a successful in-home delivery and installation. We review past data for potential volume spikes and formulate a strategic plan of action. Proper preparations can alleviate the heightened pressures from the higher volume and increase the "operational flexibility" against negative events such as inclimate weather, mechanical failures, buyer's remorse, etc.

High volume/holiday preparations include:

  • Review of installation parts and supply levels, advance ordering of any necessary supplies, and carrying a 30-60 day reserve (depending upon usage).
  • Having extra on-call delivery teams available daily.
  • Having appropriate support staffing, especially in the week immediately following a sale/promotion.
  • Triple inspections of all received merchandise.
  • Preventative maintenance on all warehouse equipment.
  • "Refresher" and updated customer service training through out the organization including role play exercisesComplete computer systems audit

We value our clients and the lasting partnerships we have forged. Each and every delivery is important to our company, and we realize that our service has a direct impression on our client's image - even more so during high volume periods where the customers' requirements are higher and their tolerance for errors is lower. We continuously strive to improve processes and encourage open communication from all associates so we exceed our clients' and their customers' expectations all year long. By implementing these procedures, critical high volume and sales periods become a smooth part of regular operations.

Tags: in home delivery | high volume | operations | new year | customer service

Comments 59 | Hits: 4791 |

Michael Ridlen
Positive Signs
2009.07.28 07:11:39

While the economic news still remains a mixed bag, we have been seeing some surprisingly positive indicators from our clients.  While the year started slowly, numbers from the past three months have been equivalent or greater in year to year comparisons.  Although there is debate about the factors behind these numbers, the bottom line is that the numbers are there.

With this good news, we have to be prepared to meet the two fold challenges of maintaining service levels for all of our customers...

Tags: economy | Home Delivery America | positive news | customer service | damage reduction | shrink reduction | economic indicators

Comments 43 | Hits: 3947 |


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