These are Jan’s keys. They’re always close as she navigates the blessed M6 on her way home from work; it’s where she has her best ideas. That’s how the idea for ‘Ask AXL’ came to her. She was thinking about how Arrow XL, the UK’s largest two-man home delivery specialist, could use its new integrated network and IT infrastructure to improve service and give customers a more personalised journey. Delivery and installation directly into peoples’ homes is an intimate thing so keeping it simple and maintaining the human touch is vital for Arrow XL; so now, thanks to Jan’s inspiration customers can 'Ask AXL' on their phones and get exactly the information they need. When she got home that evening, Jan popped her keys on the side and immediately started mapping out her ideas. She was on to something.
Jan Walsh is head of proposition at Arrow XL so she knows all about its national network of four hubs, 23 satellite bases and 220 delivery vehicles. Arrow XL delivers over 6,000 orders six days a week on behalf of more than 70 retailers, with the support of a 500-strong customer experience team that’s helped the firm develop a reputation for industry-leading customer care.
“Two-man delivery is fundamentally different to many other forms of home delivery. Our two-man teams are typically delivering a big-ticket, high-value item into a person’s home. Working with online retailers means our Service Delivery team are frequently the only face a customer ever sees. Once you understand the importance and impact we can have on a client’s brand, you realise you have to have systems capability in place that you can totally rely on to deliver that premium service.”
Technically detailed ideas like Jan’s can only be realised with a strong IT infrastructure in place and that’s where Shaun Devey comes in. He’s Arrow XL’s IT and business change director and in charge of the evolution of the company’s infrastructure as part of a co-ordinated strategy to develop new services and exploit new technology.
Shaun ran an extensive review of the managed IT services market, including a lengthy and detailed tendering process, and chose KCOM to provide a comprehensive IT infrastructure solution that includes managed WAN and LAN networks, IP voice, hosting and cloud-based productivity software including Microsoft Office 365. More importantly, it includes the kind of project management that offers structured processes and security while remaining flexible enough to meet the demands of the fast paced and rapidly growing logistics business. Arrow XL chose KCOM on the basis of its agility and speed of reaction and its ability to implement and manage change.
The contribution of the technology to Arrow XL’s business success is immense. Arrow XL will use the increased bandwidth of the new KCOM network to deliver videoconferencing capabilities that will include staff training and collaboration. This will reduce travel costs and improve productivity as well as standardise the levels of service for delivery.
“Technology to enable facilities such as delivery tracking are now table stakes. To be a leader in this market, we have to continually push what that technology can do to enhance the customer experience,” explains Devey. “For example, being able to book smaller delivery windows offers greater convenience for the customer. The easiest way for many people to track that is via an app, combined with appropriate SMS messages. The smaller that time window and the more control you give the customer, the better the experience however this does provide a far greater challenge to your technology.
“The actual delivery can be just the start for a lot of customer service aspects within logistics. Our teams may have to assemble and commission new purchases, remove old products and complete customer service tasks such as electronic signature capture to act as real-time confirmation and proof of delivery, or image capture to demonstrate that a delivery has been properly assembled or installed. To do that effectively, the technology has to be up to scratch and that is what we are looking to KCOM to provide.”
Looking ahead to the medium term, Arrow XL will further exploit Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics in order to improve service capability, in the same way it did with Jan’s brainchild Ask AXL. The improved capacity and speed of the new network will be critical. Devey concludes:
“Everything in two man delivery is designed to give customers certainty, choice and convenience and you have to continually get better at all of them, throughout the entire business. For our customer facing service as well as the back office processes and the service that IT delivers to the business, KCOM plays a critical role in our success.”