Isuzu customer care manager Syan Hancock, second right, presents the trophy to Elaine Kerr, director of sales and CRM at DPD

DPD is no stranger to winning an MT award, and its Precise project helped it secure this year’s Customer Care trophy

With the launch of its app, its Precise delivery service and signifcant growth in its Pick-up shop network, 2016 was a big year for DPD. The Your DPD app received more than one million downloads in its first nine months, and allows DPD consumers shopping across its vast range of household name retail customers to build their own profile, set cross-customer delivery preferences and manage their upcoming deliveries.

And Precise, so popular with its customers that DPD has a 20-strong waiting list, gives DPD’s recipients the power to choose when they want their parcel delivered to the hour. So it’s safe to say that DPD continues to lead the industry with its innovative, bespoke technology. And with its third consecutive Customer Care MT Award safely under its belt, we asked the parcel carrier which battleground it had to

conquer next.

The answer, according to its director of customer experience is... well, customer experience.

“On the technology front, no one can catch up with us. We’re too far ahead,” said Sinead Croke. “Where could they catch up with us? Everyone is talking about customer experience. Successful technology companies are always adding little extras, so that’s what we’re doing.

“Dwain [McDonald, DPD CEO] is obsessed with bringing in new things, and every year we have new stuff to enter the MT Awards with. And we’re never scraping the barrel, and no one is ever going to say ‘stop, you’ve done enough now’.”

Cherry on the cake

The next move, Croke said, is to put the cherry on the cake DPD built itself in 2016 with its app and the introduction of Precise. Quite literally – the carrier has called its two-year project of tweaks and improvements Project Cherry. The project, which the business launched in November 2016, will result in

approximately 25 improvements built into DPD’s app and services. Some are new features, some are tweaks, but all are geared towards improving the end consumer’s experience with the carrier.

One of the project’s major improvements aims to tackle the issue of misleading GPS co-ordinates, which direct DPD drivers to locations other than the end consumer’s house; a problem particularly prevalent with shoppers in rural areas.

DPD intends to solve the issue by allowing app users to attach a picture of their home or delivery address to their customer profile, so drivers can locate the building where they should be dropping the parcel. Not only this, but smart phones can now attach location co-ordinates (geotags) to photographs they’ve


“We’ll send the driver to the co-ordinates where that photograph was taken. You can’t get more accurate than that,” said Croke.

Another time-saving initiative from Project Cherry, which has been rolled out across the network, is cross-customer consolidation for single-delivery addresses shopping with DPD’s Precise customers.

“If you have a parcel coming from ASOS at 10am, and then one from New Look at 3pm, our handhelds wouldn’t let the driver hand that second parcel over early, even though it was there on the van," said Croke. "Drivers get frustrated because they’ve got to make an extra stop, and we get a call to the centre saying how stupid it is. So we’ve consolidated Precise deliveries. It was a quick IT fix.”

Customer CareDPD2

But Croke’s personal favourite Project Cherry change is a new approach to customers collecting a parcel for a friend or family member. “My husband usually collects them. But to do that he needs to have my ID, his ID and the card from the missed delivery. We realised that if it’s always my husband who’s collecting them, why shouldn’t the app allow you to take a photo of him and save it? So when he goes into the shop to collect my parcel, the handheld device in the pick-up shop or depot shows that picture.

If the photo matches, you don’t need the Spanish inquisition with numerous IDs and cards.”

One thing Croke said DPD is still trying to get right, though, is a same-day solution for customers who have missed their delivery slot.

“Sometimes us bringing a parcel back tomorrow doesn’t work – if someone’s going on holiday, or needs a dress for that evening. That’s our biggest challenge; I want to find a cost effective way to fix the missed delivery.

“Consumers don’t want to pay to have it taxied to them. If we could find a solution for free, that would be the sweet spot. But we’re still on the drawing board with that one.”

VIP treatment

Not all the company’s recent or upcoming changes will be centred around the app – Croke points out that it has 1.7 million downloads but delivers more than 200 million parcels a year – but it is the app users who will continue to get the VIP treatment. “It’s a small community, but it’s expanding,” she said. “We should hit two million downloads by the end of the year. We believe that if you’re an app user you deserve a better experience because you’ve downloaded it. You’ve invested your time in us.”

One feature available exclusively to app users is that hitting the call button within the app fast tracks a customer through the call centre queue. On average, these customers are talking to a DPD employee within seven seconds. Not only this, but all of a customer’s information will appear on the call centre operator’s screen.

“They’ll answer the phone and say: ‘Hello Sinead, how can we help you with your ASOS parcel?’ And then the customer feels valued. We call it ‘show me you know me’, and it will also flag up any ongoing social media cases or former complaints to the operator.”

Social media

DPD’s contact with customers via social media is on the decline. When it launched the call feature and a complementing chat feature to the app in March this year, its contact with customers on social media dropped from 4% of total contact to 2%. “We’re giving them better options,” said Croke.

She added that customers calling with complaints through the app are less aggressive to the person on the other end of the call. “They don’t scream at us. I think because they feel they’ve got a relationship with us, they’re much softer, even with complaints.”

But to duplicate its results, Croke said DPD’s competitors are going to have to do more than build similar technology. “It’s easy to emulate the technology and the processes, but not the culture, and the obsession with the customer. I’ve worked in other companies and there’s nowhere like this. It’s not that we’re workaholics, we’re just customer-obsessed and I don’t take that lightly. It’s a culture; it’s just how we roll. Culture is the hardest thing to change.

“Another company could bring in a version of Predict. And loads of companies have tried to and failed. Unless the drivers are on board with that fast-paced, customer-centric service, you can’t roll it out. Our drivers are relentless, and they like it that way.”

She added that winning the MT Customer Care award is very important to DPD as a business as it recognises that constant drive to amaze customers. “I don’t think the transport industry is particularly well known for being customer-centric. And yes we have more face time with our customers, but that puts us at a disadvantage in this category.

“In transport, I would argue there’s an acceptance if a load is held up by a traffic jam on the M25. But with our end customers, there is zero tolerance of failure and they get very vocal, and in a public forum. B2C deliveries are a huge beast, and people underestimate how expensive they are to manage.

“We want to be known for our customer care and like surprising people when we come up with new things to offer. To win the MT award? That’s just the cherry on the cake.”