Delivering customer-first service

Becoming customer-obsessed is a bold vision statement, but for businesses operating in retail, it is essential. As the carrier of choice for 80 per cent of the UK’s largest retailers, we fully appreciate the impact the changing world of shopping is having on both our clients and their customers.

We all expect more from a retail experience, especially online, where we continue to see huge strides being made in terms of digitalisation, innovation and personalisation strategies to target diverse audiences from generation X to millennials and the baby boomers, who all have different behaviours and channels, whether it’s shopping directly from Instagram or using marketplace sites such as eBay and Etsy.

By placing the customer at the heart of everything we do, we can look to withstand retail’s ongoing evolution and capitalise on the opportunity to transform every delivery into a positive brand experience.

We’re known for our size and scale as the UK’s second-largest carrier network that delivered more than 270 million parcels in 2017. During our peak period last year, we delivered 40 million parcels between Black Friday and the New Year with one million parcels delivered daily for 25 consecutive days. This was also the first peak period with our brand-new £35-million Rugby Super Hub in operation, which enabled us to handle our largest ever peak.

We want more people to be able to access our services as we introduce new and innovative products

Convenience is, of course, critical and we offer seven-day delivery, a more than 95 per cent first-time delivery rate, three delivery attempts as standard and our network of ParcelShops, which provide local sites in communities across the UK for consumers to drop off and send parcels close to home, is growing.

But while consumers have now come to expect these products, we’ve this year evolved our approach. Based on in-depth insight, we know that customers want to remain informed at every stage of their parcel’s journey and to have more control over delivery options for maximum convenience. Combine these two elements with a great experience delivered by a local courier from your community, which you may be familiar with, and this is a step forward for retail delivery.

We’ve invested in a new website and app to put the customer first, with features including real-time ability to specify a safe place plus a photo to improve transparency at the point of delivery. You will also be able to nominate a neighbour or divert to a ParcelShop in-transit, whichever best suits your needs that day.

Of course, our ultimate aim is to manage the complete delivery cycle and make life easier for our retailer clients, and these in-transit options help us to do this. For example, customers will be able to edit addresses and give directions to the courier rather than have to communicate via the retailer.

Finally, the other key element that we’re tackling this year is returns. Both our website and app will enable customers to arrange a return that could be collected or dropped at a ParcelShop. If you won’t be in, you can leave the parcel in a nominated safe place and using the app let the courier know where to pick it up. The app will generate a QR code so customers can print labels at their local Hermes ParcelShop.

We’re continuing our exploration of technologies, including our collaboration with StarShip, to trial robot delivery in certain areas of the UK to enhance, rather than replace, our courier offering. We’re also using artificial intelligence in courier training and seeing a steady increase in uptake of our voice search service with Alexa and Google assistant to track parcels.

Ultimately, we want more people to be able to access our services as we introduce new and innovative products backed by consumer insight because we believe premium services shouldn’t cost the earth and wowing consumers must be at the heart of every retail business’s plans in 2018.