Failed appointments cost British business £53 billion in inefficiencies and lost productivity every year

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British businesses that carry out home appointments and deliveries are losing more than £53 billion every year due to customers not being at home. Research from the business SMS experts, Esendex, finds that retailers, utilities, telecoms and postal service companies bear the brunt with an estimated £238 per failed delivery or service attempt.

Almost a third (31%) of all delivery and service appointments fail, negatively impacting revenues by an average of 8.42% - according to an in-depth survey of logistics, transport and customer service decision makers. The main factor contributing to this figure was found to be a lack of notification or communication of arrival times, as cited by 34% of businesses.

The companies surveyed carry out deliveries from non-perishable goods and parcels, through to groceries and flowers. Other types of appointments include TV & telecoms installations, sales and service check-ups. These sectors have total revenues of £633 billion; at an average loss of 8.42% this means that over £53 billion is lost by businesses every year through failed delivery or service appointments.

The £238 cost per individual failed appointment is attributed to an associated increase in admin and business process costs (25%), a lack of capacity utilisation (16%), and call centre overburden (10%), among others.

For the retail sector specifically, with total revenues of over £300 billion each year, retailers estimate the total impact of failed deliveries to be more than £25 billion.

To alleviate this significant cost, 65% of companies said that they are planning to use SMS within the next 12 months – and also considered among the respondents to be the preferred method of communication by customers. Interestingly, only 18% of companies are looking to social media in 2013/14 to improve customer communications.

With SMS heralded by businesses as the answer to help resolve these issues, Julian Hucker, CEO and co-founder of Esendex explained: "We are seeing a shift in preference among companies who are moving towards text messaging in an effort to more easily reach customers at critical times during the transaction process. Most of us have had to wait in for a supermarket or furniture delivery at some point. We all have mobile phones, so texting is able to take that headache away and give businesses and customers a simple and reliable way to solve this issue. It's not a new technology, but it's the most widely available and therefore the most convenient for customers."

The survey was carried out by Coleman Parkes Research, comprising telephone interviews with 200 decision makers in UK-based retail, utilities and logistics companies in February and March 2013.

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