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5 last-mile customer engagement tactics for equipment hire companies

Equipment hire delivery

As the tool hire space becomes increasingly commoditised, customer experience is one area where rental companies can stand out. 

Customer engagement tools such as real-time notifications help to meet customers’ demand for visibility. In turn, equipment hire companies can benefit from increased first-time delivery, fewer disputes and faster collections. 

Here are five ways that rental providers are using technology to improve customer satisfaction and cut operational costs.  


1. Digitise the experience 

Digitisation comes with numerous benefits for customers, drivers, and your business. 

Customers today have been trained to expect a digital-first experience. Phoning a contact centre seems like unnecessary effort when we’re used to real-time notifications and self-service order tracking. 

By automating SMS updates with a link to a web-based customer portal, you can free up support staff to speak to customers who really need a human conversation.  

Ideally, the portal should include rescheduling options, real-time progress updates and last-mile driver tracking. This reduces call centre traffic by helping customers inform themselves. 

The benefits of digitisation also extend to drivers. When customers receive automatic updates based on job status, drivers no longer need to call or text customers in between appointments.  

With the right driver app, it’s easy to collect electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) that is automatically shared with the customer. This reduces the need for paper processes and minimises the delay between order fulfilment and revenue generation.  


2. Increase transparency with last-mile tracking 

In the construction industry, equipment deliveries are often mission critical to a customer’s business. By implementing timely reminders and order tracking, equipment hire companies, can foster trust and empower clients to plan projects effectively. 

Many equipment deliveries are promised “on or before” a certain date, rather than at a pre-selected time slot. In this case, it’s essential to keep customers in the loop when a more precise ETA becomes available. Otherwise, recipients may waste time anticipating a driver’s arrival. 

For example, businesses can trigger an email or SMS when the driver’s route is finalised, and another when they are on their way to the job. Real-time tracking of the driver’s location gives increased transparency, ensuring that all parties are in the right place at the right time. 

With increased first-time access for deliveries and collections, businesses can reduce fuel wastage and get equipment back into circulation more quickly. 


3. Increase customer engagement with two-way communication  

Automated communication is a great way to increase visibility by providing customers with real-time updates. Two-way communication takes this to the next level by allowing customers to share information with your business. 

For instance, customers often have information such as access codes or parking instructions that they would like to share. They may need to let the driver know that they’re currently unavailable but will be back in five minutes.  


construction worker


Without an easy channel for two-way communication, this vital information can get lost on its way to the driver. 

The solution is to include two-way chat functionality within an online customer portal. Customers can share information and drivers can review or respond to messages asynchronously when they aren’t driving.  

Unlike text messaging or consumer messaging apps, messages can be stored in business systems for full visibility.  Office-based staff can easily access conversations and respond to customers where necessary.  


4. Gather feedback and take action 

Customer feedback is most valuable when it’s accurate, representative, accurate, timely and actionable.  

To ensure that feedback is representative, equipment hire companies should collect feedback after every job – not just a random sample. Automation makes it easier to reach out to every customer without making costly phone calls. 

For accurate feedback on the delivery and collection experience, it’s important to survey customers as soon as possible. Rather than tasking drivers to collect feedback – which is likely to distort responses (the halo and horns effect) – businesses can trigger an email or SMS when the job is complete.  

Customers can respond via their own device while the experience is fresh in their minds. Responses can be stored against the job’s details, or even sent to support staff in real time. This allows your team to quickly deal with issues before they escalate. 


5. Provide digital proof of delivery (POD) 

With digital POD software, both your customers and staff have assurance of the state of goods when delivered or collected. Geo stamped photos can be used to prove the condition of the equipment as well as when and where it was dropped off.  

Electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) reduces the need for paperwork and minimises fraudulent claims or disputes. By digitising the process, it’s easy to provide customers with instant proof of delivery or collection. This in turn helps businesses to reduce time-to-invoice. 


HSS Hire’s success story 

At Descartes, we work with companies to perfect their last-mile delivery strategy. Our customisable customer engagement platform with automated notifications, delivery tracking and customer feedback offers all the tools you need to provide an outstanding customer experience.  

An example of how Descartes’ software solutions can support the success of an equipment delivery/collection business is HSS Hire, a nationwide supplier of tool and equipment hire in the U.K. with more than 200 locations.  

With customer engagement technology, the business was able to digitise proof of delivery, customer communication and feedback. Customers benefit from automated notifications and real-time driver tracking, while drivers have seen a reduction in paperwork. 

Here are some of the results HSS Hire has achieved: 

  • A 45% increase in driver retention. 
  • Increased fuel savings with increased first-time access. 
  • Faster resolution of customer feedback with real-time alerts.  

Read the full case study 


Want to learn more about how Descartes can transform your equipment hire customer experience? Get in touch today.