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Addison Lee uses common customer transport tech to offer luxury couriering

Addison Lee is well known for being a business-focused private hire firm in and around London, but as competition has increased the firm has refocused its use of tech to provide courier services to customers and retailers

Addison Lee was one of the first private hire car firms to offer consumers a mobile application through which to book and track rides.

Now the market has become more competitive, Addison Lee is using its existing technologies and fleet of vehicles to tackle the couriering market, offering “luxury” couriering services to deliver products within the hour.

“This is all technology that is pretty standard in the car and ground transportation industry but is only just being applied in a same-day courier delivery service,” David Bruce, business and corporate development director for Addison Lee told the 2017 Retail Business Technology Expo.

Retailers are increasingly using technology to offer frictionless customer service over several different channels to cater to fickle customers, and firms such as Uber consider themselves technology businesses as they offer customers a tech platform.

However, Addison Lee considers itself “a fully managed service” as opposed to a technology platform, and has real people behind the scenes who are available 24 hours a day to talk about journeys or parcels.

Bruce pointed out that in the 1970s the ground transport industry “wasn’t at all customer-focused” but now retailers are facing an “increasingly challenging set of customer expectations”.

The brand currently operates in 10 cities worldwide, performs more than 10 million passenger journeys a year and its cars arrive at the chosen destination punctually 99% of the time.

Repurposing existing technology

To move into the courier space, the firm used all of its existing customer-facing features to offer a same-day parcel delivery service.

Customers can choose different pickup and drop off locations, as well as vehicle size, for deliveries on the same or the next day.

What started as an additional service for its existing customers is now an important part of the business and is focused around the same values.

“It started as an add on – our corporate customers had stuff they needed to move around. All of that has changed, we have a very dedicated management team running this courier business,” said Bruce.

Industry giants such as Amazon have set the standard for parcel delivery by offering next-day services, so Addison Lee found it important to ensure packages can be delivered in two hours – something that has been enabled by its large fleet of 4,500 cars in London as well as 500 vans and bikes.

“Service is expected in an instance, [our tech and vehicles] allow us to achieve a 98% delivery in one hour in London,” said Bruce.

To compete with its various contenders, both in the parcel delivery and the ground transport markets, Addison Lee has developed application programming interfaces (APIs), worked on digital integration, invested in smart devices for drivers and redesigned and relaunched its customer application.

Using customer service to compete

Customers are offered Wi-Fi in Addison Lee vehicles as a standard, the average response time in the firm’s contact centres is four seconds, and 87% of its drivers are rated five stars by its consumers.

Where technology has allowed its competitors to join the market, Addison Lee is attempting to further adapt this technology to grow brand loyalty.

“We’re moving on in terms of personalising the service. We have to utiliseand advance technology, but there is more competition in the market,” said Bruce.

“Customers really have a choice now and we have to earn that relationship with customers. We’re only as good as our last journey.”

This applies as much to the firm’s parcel delivery business as it does to dropping off and picking up passengers.

Instant service through multiple channels is important for Addison Lee, as well as its 24/7 control room with live chat assistants to ensure premium customer service.

“Expectations of customers are increasing. We have to continue to differentiate through service and a lot of that is people generated,” said Bruce.

As drivers are the firm’s most obvious customer-facing part of the business, ensuring they properly represent the brand is important – four out of five of the drivers that apply to the firm are rejected, according to Bruce.

“Drivers are a very important part of our service because they are the face of our service to the customer,” he said.  

Although the company considers itself service-driven as opposed to a technology platform, Bruce admitted the brand could not offer the service it does without utilising technology.

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