January 2007 | Sponsored | Knowledge Base

Fast Forward: Is Rush Hour Traffic Hurting Your Customer Service?

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Are my customers completely satisfied? Am I providing the level of service they expect? Every executive should be asking these questions if they expect to remain competitive. Itπs not enough to offer the best price; your customers expect more than that. They expect you to be responsive to their needs and to consistently deliver on your commitments. If things always ran smoothly, this wouldnπt be a problem. If your business involves time-sensitive pickup and delivery, however, you know how difficult it can be.

Traffic congestion is one of the problems, because traffic causes drivers to be late, or miss deliveries altogether. That makes customers unhappy. In the past, being late due to rush hour was seen as a cost of doing business. Just like rising fuel and personnel costs, it simply had to be dealt with. Fortunately, things have changed.

Today, sophisticated fleet management solutions are making it possible for companies to get around this obstacle. Itπs now possible to factor traffic conditions into your planning process automatically. You can even project what traffic will be like at any time on any given day. Thanks to new technologies, fleet operators are gaining more control of delivery schedules and servicing their customers better.

What Causes Drivers To Be Late? Bad Traffic.

Traffic congestion has become a problem in almost every metro area. Our roadways are simply not equipped to handle the ever increasing volume. Some cities are faced with nearly continuous gridlock, while others are experiencing traffic jams for the first time. Everyoneπs quality of life is being affected.

Imagine youπre a driver heading across town to make your last delivery. You have to be there by 4:30 p.m., and itπs already 4:15. If you could do the speed limit, you would probably make it. As it is, youπre moving less than half that speed. Cars are backed up as far as you can see. What do you do? Call the dispatcher so he can let the customer know or just show up late again?

Now imagine youπre the dispatcher. You get in at 5:30 a.m. every morning to build a schedule for the day. There are already more orders than your drivers can handle; and you still need to deal with yesterdayπs missed stops. You know to expect rush hour, but there is no telling what traffic will be like today. So you build in some safety time between stops and hope for the best. Then you write yourself a note to call the customers who will have to be skipped. You can sort those stops out tomorrow.

Your dispatcher probably has a great deal of experience, but he canπt see into the future. No matter how well he plans, traffic will get in the way.

Managing Rush Hour

You may not think of traffic as something you can manage. Youπve seen its effect on your business and tried to react, but youπve never been in control. This situation is changing. Advanced fleet management solutions from GEOCOMtms are making it possible to turn rush hour traffic to your advantage.

Thanks to prolific use of GPS tracking systems, there is now a huge amount of data available on traffic conditions. One company, LandSonar, has spent years collecting this data. Using exclusive GPS feeds from tens of thousands of commercial vehicles, the company has developed highly accurate traffic models. These models make it possible to predict traffic conditions for almost any road segment, on any day of the week. GEOCOMtms has partnered with LandSonar to incorporate road speed predictions within the A.MAZE Planning engine.

GEOCOMtms customers are no longer required to make ≥best guess≤ estimates or use generic averages when building plans. Planners and dispatchers can factor real-world traffic conditions into the routing and scheduling process. The result is a more accurate picture of the stops you can make and when you can make them.

The ability to factor todayπs traffic conditions into the planning process is giving fleet operators better visibility. If you know how traffic is going to impact your drivers throughout the day, you can schedule more accurately. This means delivery times are more predictable. Greater accuracy gives you a customer service advantage. It allows you to properly set customer expectations and consistently hit the time windows youπve committed to.

Minimizing the impact of traffic congestion on customer service is critical for fleet operators. You need to know how traffic will affect your business today and in the future. Yes, you can service your customers without this information, but can you deliver on your commitments? Do you really know whether you can make stops on time, every time? Moreover, can you be confident you can satisfy customers and still make an acceptable profit? Fortunately, solutions are now available that allow you to plan for traffic, not in spite of it. And good planning is essential for good customer service.

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