Last month, Parcelforce announced a new service called Select, which is predicated around providing more choice and flexibility. We caught up with Parcelforce Worldwide’s sales and marketing director Helen Wylde, to hear more about the background to Select.
The proliferation of technology in the delivery service sector is hard to miss. From the mobile devices people use to browse and buy, through to label production and at every point between, technology is a fundamental part of the sector.
“As an industry, we are moving into a completely new environment and technology is becoming ever more important,” Wylde told us. “Customers want control, they want convenience, and they want options as to what, when and how they get their deliveries.”
Being able to collate historical data and turn it into useful business insight is critical to any business wanting to stay ahead of the pack and any shortcomings in the level of required investment are likely to manifest as significant future problems. This lack of strategic investment was cited by some as part of the downfall of City Link in December.
“When you think about a delivery that someone is waiting for, the value of that delivery to the customer doesn’t automatically equate the commercial value of the item being delivered.” Wylde explained. “It might be something medical they are waiting for, or it might be an item that has very personal and emotional attachments. But whatever it is, some things have an importance, a value, that goes beyond a price you can put on it. You have to gain a better understanding of what the customer wants, of what they consider to be an important service.”
Retailers also need to get better at collecting data from customers and using it to shape the delivery services they offer, she argues. A ‘me too’ set of delivery and collection options that mimic those offered elsewhere in the industry doesn’t treat people as valued customers, nor as individuals.
“We can run 100 different reports and break the data down to find connections between people; you are able to see what variations you can find around region, number of children in a household, age, and so on. Then you can develop services that meet customer needs properly, and treat people like the individuals they are,” she continued.
With its legacy as a publicly-owned organisation, Parcelforce could still be viewed as slow, unwieldy and simply encumbered with too much legacy. However, Wylde argues that the opposite is, in fact, the case.
“Our drivers are employed directly by the company. They’re not self-employed,” she says. “Some of them have been with us for more than 10 years. What that means is that we have this great wealth of experience behind us. That’s something that really sets us apart. They also have a really positive and engaged outlook – they’re interested in things like the technology we ask them to use, and they want to give us feedback on how to make improvements.”
In addition to its existing notifications, Parcelforce Select issues customers with notifications for:
- Attempted delivery – when customers are not at home and no further instruction exists,
- Neighbour delivery – advising which neighbour has accepted the parcel,
- Post Office handover – advising customers of the Post Office where the parcel has been left
“Trust is crucial.” Wylde concludes. “If we say we’re going to do something then we have to do it.”