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In Interview with Soma Sudarshan Chandraiah – Vice President – Process & Products at Xpressbees

Soma Sudarshan Chandraiah - Vice President - Process & Products at Xpressbees

Soma Sudarshan Chandraiah – Vice President – Process & Products at Xpressbees

1. The pandemic has been tough for all companies across verticals. What were some of the common challenges you faced when it comes to customers due to the pandemic?

During pandemic Remote working became a new normal, plenty of commerce happened over the internet, travel was regulated, free movement of the goods were restricted until the administration realized the stress on supplies and opened up essential goods movement. On the other hand, the expectations from customers had in fact gone up. Customers needed visibility on goods movement more than ever as some of them were desperate to get their supplies for survival through the pandemic.  Availability of customers was a huge concern for logistic companies. With organizations adopting remote working some of the customers had moved out of their delivery locations and wanted the flexibility of re-routing the shipments to their current locations. Logistics companies were caught in the fix as the pre-covid supplies were clogging the infra while the goods weren’t moving much. In geographies where the customers were available, accessibility was a challenge as the containment and micro containment zones which kept transitioning from time-to-time impeded supplies reaching the customers. 

For those supplies that reached the customers, now needed ‘no touch’ or “contactless” deliveries, which in essence meant the capability of logistics players to have digital authentication of deliveries, provide options to pay without contact, mechanisms to convert COD orders to PP orders and not the least in sharing ‘health and Safety ’details of Last-mile agent(s) who delivers the goods.

2. What are some of the pandemic induced changes that customers can now not do without?

Because of the pandemic, the Penetration of digital commerce in India increased many folds which could not be achieved by deep discounting strategies of e-commerce companies. 

We believe this momentum will continue to stay in the long run as well and will translate into greater responsibility for players like us. 

Also, personal hygiene and safety have taken paramount importance, customers today expect to know details about the delivery rider, their vaccination status, and health statistics on the day of delivery. ‘Contact less’ deliveries have become a part and parcel of the delivery ecosystem, most of the tech-savvy companies have resorted to innovative ways of delivering this to the customers. 

We do see organizations have developed and invested in alternate mechanisms to keep the customers updated on the movement of goods in order to reduce the returns which is a huge task for both the logistics companies and platforms alike. This has made the customers accustomed to prompt communications and any dilution on this will have an adverse effect on customer expectations.

3. What are some of the trends that will drive customer experience post-pandemic?

Customer engagement has seen a complete paradigm shift through conversation AIs and Chatbots. Customers can now get updates through social media and messaging channels. Organizations have invested in digital authentication methods which include SMS or e-mail code/Geo-based deliveries for enabling ‘no touch’ or ‘contactless’ deliveries. 

Customers are provided with multiple payment options for COD orders which was much restricted to only cash or CC pre-covid. We have also witnessed the wide adoption of UPI payments and believe the logistics organizations will continue to explore innovative methods to enable cash collection. 

As many organizations keep oscillating on their decisions on remote working, workers are left with no choice but keep moving around geographies between different waves of the pandemic. As an outcome customers expect the flexibility of changing the destinations of the deliveries as per convenience.

4. How are new age technologies impacting the business of customer experience?

Technologies like messaging/ conversational AIs have brought the customers closer to the businesses. Companies have embraced blockchain in their supply chains to bring in transparency on data and relevant transactional information for better collaboration and co-ordination. Automation of warehousing and sorting processes has also seen increased focus to have low touch processing, alleviate pressure on workforce availability and most importantly to improve speeds.

5. Kindly highlight some initiatives taken up at your company to deliver superior customer experience?

We at XpressBees are very focused on safety of our workforce and customers, we have dedicated teams putting in efforts to get all our workforce vaccinated. They monitor the health of our workers and swing into action in case of need. 

We have invested in our tech capabilities to simplify customer interactions. Our investments in AI and ‘bots’ have paid us well, as on date 22-25% of our contact centre traffic are resolved directly by bots. Our processes are built for minimal touch, enable customers with wide variety of options for payments and allow for flexible deliveries. 

Automation is another area of investment to improve our speeds, reduce human touch and mitigate workforce availability challenges. We will continue to focus on investments in critical areas within the supply chain.

6. Any final comments that you would like to add?

Pandemic has disrupted the way the businesses operate, especially logistics sector has been hit hard the most. The sector has undergone changes to meet the needs of customers during the pandemic. These changes have made the organizations to re-look at their digital transformation strategy to stay relevant in the changed landscape. Some of these changes are here to stay as they have become a differentiator to service. We at XpressBees have been very nimble to meet the needs of our customers. Our investments in AI, bots and automation are a true testimony to this. We will continue to invest in safety of our workforce and customers. 

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