With the rise of online businesses, plenty of courier services has popped up to cash in the market. While many of them are professional companies that will ensure they get your parcels to their destination on time, you can never be too careful, especially when they’re new.
Asking specific, descriptive questions, like the ones in this article, will help you make this important choice a little easier. Any legitimate business will be happy to answer them.
What to Ask When Hiring a Courier Service
Before signing on, it’s important to ask all prospective courier services the following questions. That way, you can feel confident their drivers are experienced, reliable, and up to the task.
1. Can You Integrate With My Online Ordering Platform?
Retail and eCommerce businesses will typically use online platforms to display and complete orders. If your courier service of choice doesn’t integrate with your current platform, you’ll have to remove and replace all of your orders to and from the platform your courier uses.
While this may not be a problem for smaller businesses, switching platforms can take weeks, even months, for enterprises or drop shippers.
Even if the courier company uses the platform with free and/or instant change over, there’s no guarantee your products will populate properly.
For these reasons and to reduce business downtime and costs, it’s essential to find courier services, like Dropoff, that offer an API integration with your online ordering platform.
2. How Experienced Are Your Drivers?
While it may feel beneficial to ask, “how long have you been in business,” the answer to that question doesn’t matter if they don’t have experienced drivers. Plenty of businesses, old or new, will cut costs to make a profit, but experienced drivers typically stay where they’re appreciated.
At the same time, asking if they have “good drivers” will be answered with a yes. Why would they respond with no? To make sure you get the answer you need to this question, elaborate:
- Have you worked with a courier company in the past?: Some courier companies or managers branch off to form their own company, meaning they’re experienced.
- How many years have your drivers operated as couriers?: This helps you determine if your couriers have previous experience or recent driving experience.
- Do your drivers wear uniforms?: Uniforms are a sign of professionalism. A clean uniform ensures that the people driving care about health and safety protocols.
- Can you describe the steps in your training process?: All courier drivers should be trained on how to drive and maintain their vehicle and speak to customers.
- Can I speak to a customer service rep?: You need to determine if proper training is found throughout the company. If you’re talking to a manager, ask for a rep.
Remember that the company’s courier drivers will represent you and your business, so you’ll need to vet the drivers carefully to make sure they handle your goods properly.
3. What is the Size of Your Fleet?
The only reason to ask the “how long have you been in business” question is because long-term businesses typically have a larger fleet.
However, if you’re only shipping a moderate amount monthly, you can get away with hiring a small team, especially for local deliveries.
At the same time, you may want to opt for a large fleet if you plan to scale. Large fleets will often have multiple warehouses, pickup, and drop-off locations.
On top of that, a larger fleet is more likely to be reliable when shipping goods, which is vital for same-day/2-day shipments.
4. Are Your Employees Licensed to Handle X Goods?
Courier companies commonly separate themselves into three categories: healthcare, retail/eCommerce, and industrial. Each industry requires different licensing to handle goods and services. For example, medical couriers need to be HIPAA-compliant and trackable.
This is another question that requires more research-based questions, like:
- What kind of services do you offer?: Do they have 24/7 service (important for medical couriers)? Can they deliver on weekends or holidays? Do they offer same-day shipping?
- How do you secure your shipments?: All packages should be secured while the vehicle is in motion. Ask for their securing procedure for specific items.
- What are your package restrictions?: Are there some packages they absolutely won’t deliver? How much can you put on the truck per day? Do they have a dimension cap?
- Do you offer package pickup?: Can you call the courier to ask for an immediate pickup? Do they allow their customers to pick up packages directly from the courier?
- What technology do you use?: Does the company have a GPS tracking system? Will you and your customers know of the package’s location at all times?
Your choice of courier should be equipped with the technology, skills, and certifications they need to be reliable. Remember, you can’t just ask if they’re reliable because they’ll respond with “yes,” so you have to receive answers from your other inquiries to determine that they are.
5. What is Your Time-Frame to Respond to Customers/My Needs?
This question is better understood by asking people who have experience with the courier. You should look at customer and client reviews before asking this question. Not only will it give you peace of mind, but it will also give you the chance to compare their answers.
It’s okay to bring up past customers or clients to see their reactions. If there’s a negative review, ask them what went wrong and how they improved on this customer/client interaction.
If they respond immediately, there’s a good chance they will respond to your own requests. If they’re uncomfortable answering, that may be a sign that they’re embarrassed or angry. Being embarrassed is fine. We all make mistakes; it’s just important that we learn from them.
Keep in mind that a courier’s responsiveness should depend on your needs. A medical courier needs an immediate response, whereas an eCommerce business can settle for a day or two.
While you’re at it, ask what they’ll do to solve issues, like missed delivery times, unhappy customers, or lost packages. Do they have insurance? Will they offer a discount or money back to you or the customer? Accidents happen, so it’s in your best interest to prepare for them.