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Delivery Customer Experience: How Can Proactive Exceptions Management and Early Warning Systems Help?

Written by
Benedict Leong
Published on
May 9, 2023
Updated on
July 6, 2023

Nobody likes slow customer service. Few also have the patience to chase companies again and again if they are not provided with any updates on what’s happening to their product or service.

This is especially critical for eCommerce companies, as having poor customer delivery experiences can lose your business repeat purchases and loyalty, requiring them to spend more to acquire the leads they could not retain.

In this regard, fast, efficient, and proactive communications form the basis of a great customer service experience to the point that first response times and resolution times are tracked as company performance metrics.

But what if your shipping partners had processes in place to proactively fix and communicate issues to you just as soon as they happen?

eCommerce 4PL exception handling systems such as Janio’s enables our clients to be able to respond in a proactive and timely manner to their consignees so that they can go the extra mile in managing their customer experience while highlighting exceptions that require their attention and instructions.

Discussing the Barriers to Proactive eCommerce Exception Handling and Early Warning Systems

Before we dive into how the systems work, it helps to first understand some of the obstacles to building early warning systems, fragmented data that requires data standardisation and communication complexities when managing many third-party logistics providers.

Fragmented Data – The Need for Data Standardisation

No partner, let alone a logistics service provider, is the same. There are no universal standards of technology, no standard operating procedures, or even definitions of tracking statuses that are universal across different service providers. This gets harder to manage the more partners you have.

Serving one international market requires at least 1 to 3 partners to help you out. Handling 6 markets or more will see your business managing and communicating with at least 6 to 18 partners if you want to cover everything from the first mile to last mile delivery.

If your business is expanding your portfolio of partners for the first time, standardising and mapping statuses on your dashboard to give you apples-to-apples comparisons should be top of mind.

Different Methods of Communication and Language Differences

There are times when smaller local players specialise in one leg of the delivery, such as last mile delivery in Malaysia. They would likely communicate via email or chat apps like Whatsapp to help organise deliveries or communicate any delays or issues that occur.

This is very different from larger companies that would have API integrations, their own customer service portals or even direct account managers that you can raise issues with or get updates from.

When working with a wide variety of partners, your team needs to get used to multiple channels for multiple partners who each have their own quirks, standard operating procedures and definitions.

Unless your team is built around these limitations, this arrangement has the potential to be overwhelming or difficult to scale up communications effectively if you need all of them to receive new instructions from you at once, let alone along get updates from them regarding any exceptions that could arise.

4PLs: Tech-Enabled Exception Management

Both challenges above are related to the complexity of managing many unique 3PLs all at once: from the man-hours required, the processes to develop and the tech platforms and integrations needed.

Unless you’ve built existing systems and processes to manage them all, 4PLs can be a good option to quickly organise and communicate with your selected 4PL’s pool of network partners around the world.

With 4PLs like Janio, companies will get access to their existing standard operating procedures, tech integrations, dashboards and teams which enable proactive communications, early warning systems, and troubleshooting to help you with your customer experience management.

4PLs are essentially logistics service partners who manage other 3PLs on your behalf. They  serve as a single gateway to their pool of 3PLs in their existing network while managing your shipments through them for you. They function as an extension of your logistics team in that regard.

Janio’s partners are all digitally integrated with us via APIs to give us real-time status updates and monitoring. Delays and exceptions are tracked day-by-day with automatic communication and exception handling procedures being initiated based on the type of issues identified.

How Janio’s Aging Parcels Delivery Management Works

Our early warning system handles 2 different categories of aging parcels:

Janio monitors 2 different categories of aging parcels:

  • Exceptions, which are known as unnaturally aging deliveries
  • Delays, which are also known as naturally aging deliveries

Janio monitors parcel delivery statuses in 2 ways: aging compared against service level agreement (SLA) and aging from the last status. The longer the delays for both metrics, the higher the risk score attached to the parcel going missing.

  • Aging against SLA means how many days have elapsed since the agreed time the delivery should arrive at its destination.
  • Aging from the last status refers to the time since the delivery had arrived at its current delivery node. For example, if the parcel hasn’t moved for 2 days since arriving at customs, it will be marked as aging for 2 days since arriving at customs but it may not necessarily have breached the SLA.

Depending on the risk score, Janio will also proactively chase our partners to expedite the delivery. On the off chance that a parcel is lost and cannot be delivered in a timely fashion, the parcel will be marked as lost and the refund process is triggered automatically.

This brings closure to the delivery exception as opposed to dragging out the refund process over months as investigations take place on the shipper’s and shipping partner’s sides.

Proactively Handling Exceptions

Control Tower Orders in Exception State
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Exceptions, or unnatural aging, refers to deliveries that are delayed and require action from the client to continue the delivery.

After the results of the investigation, the delivery exceptions are consolidated into different groups in the ‘Orders in Exception State’ part of the dashboard.

For orders that are in exception states, Janio’s system will flag this out and the team  will automatically reach out to the client to inform them of the next steps required to complete the delivery.

  1. Incomplete information – To alert the client to get the correct data and documents or relevant instructions to continue the delivery. Relabelling may also be involved
  2. Customs Issues – e.g. Held in customs, missing customs information or documents, restricted or prohibited goods
  3. Incorrect or incomplete information – e.g., incorrect phone numbers, parcels that have incorrect addresses
  4. Disposal, return or redelivery situations – Situations where the parcel has been returned to the sorting centre and are awaiting instructions on whether to be disposed of or returned
  5. Maximum delivery attempts reached
  6. Rejection from consignee – e.g. refused to pay for cash on delivery
  7. Claims situations – Damaged, lost parcels, etc.

Deliveries that are in the exception state are also accessible on the Estimated Delivery Date Report Dashboard, covered below, which clients can access at any time. In scenarios like these, our clients can also use this dashboard to proactively raise tickets with Janio to find out what needs to be done to get the delivery moving again.

Delays Handling – Estimated Delivery Dates

Janio Shipment Analytics Dashboard - Delayed and at Risk of Delay Shipments in Transit

Delays or natural aging refer to deliveries that cannot arrive on time and do not need any action from the clients themselves to get the shipment moving.

One example of this is when the parcel arrives too late at the sorting hub and can only be sorted and allocated the next day. The delivery will still continue but the delivery will proceed as normal without the need for intervention from Janio or the client.

When it comes to delays, Janio escalates these partners to our network partners to expedite the shipments or steps in when needed to keep the parcel within SLA as much as possible. Once the SLA is in danger of being breached, a new estimated delivery date is generated and can be accessed in our Estimated Delivery Date dashboard.

As part of Janio’s aging management processes, overdue parcels will have the claims process initiated automatically without any action required from the clients themselves to better manage customer expectations.

Janio’s Aging Management dashboard uses the following terms:

  • At Risk of Delay – these shipments are not delayed yet but we’ve identified at least one leg of the journey (e.g., customs clearance, last mile) where a milestone timing has been missed. There is a risk that these parcels will not be attempted before the committed lead time.
  • Delayed – the delivery has breached the actual promised SLA timing and we haven’t made a last-touch attempt yet.
  • Overdue – shipments that have gone beyond the expiry date* are considered overdue. *The expiry date is a set number of days after breaching the agreed delivery SLA.
Janio Shipment Analytics Dashboard - Delayed and Exceptions - Estimated Delivery Date
Janio’s Control Tower Dashboard – Delays and Exceptions – Estimated Delivery Date Table. Tracking numbers have been censored for privacy purposes in this illustration.

While this doesn’t apply to all 3PLs, some of them will respond to a delay by mentioning that the parcel will not be able to be delivered on the agreed date and that it has been delayed without mentioning any further details.

But with an estimated delivery date system, a new estimated delivery date is generated as soon as we’ve detected that there is a high risk of the parcel not meeting its SLA.

Monitoring Trending Delays

Our client makes use of this dashboard to proactively reach out to their customers. They actively monitor trending delays and update them of the new date even before the SLA itself is breached.

This helps the shopper to reorganise their time around the new schedule and avoid cases where they wait for the delayed parcel without realising that it has been delayed.

Exceptions Handling for eCommerce Customer Experience Management

Speed and accuracy are key when it comes to communications, moreso when it comes to eCommerce delivery customer service.

If you are expanding your market reach to multiple countries and want top-notch customer experience management support, it pays to work with partners who have invested in tech-enabled exception handling processes and early warning systems.

Powered by established relationships and robust integrations with their networks, Janio can help you proactively handle delays and exceptions. From immediate visibility and communications via early warning systems and estimated delivery date processes to providing closure via procedures that cover relabelling, redelivery, returns and claims processes, Janio can help you cover most situations.

Don’t hesitate. Take the next step in handling your customer experience management by contacting us or requesting a demo via the banner below.

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