What’s in an estimated time of arrival? What customers expect from an ETA

estimated time of arrival

The voice of consumers who have grown up with technology at their fingertips is loud and clear. Increased convenience – more specifically,  “on-demand convenience” – is mandatory. Having experienced “point, click, deliver” nirvana in their everyday lives, they now expect the same experience for every single interaction with a service provider. They know what technology can do, and therefore demand it from the companies with whom they choose to do business. So it should come as no surprise that estimated time of arrival is important to these consumers.

Companies that succeed in today’s customer-driven economy recognize this and are creating solutions that delight their customersThink of your own reaction the first time you used Uber or Lyft. When you were informed exactly what your driver’s estimated time of arrival (ETA) was and could track them as they drove to your pickup location, you understood without complex explanation just exactly how the innovative application of technology to old customer experiences could still surprise you, in a good way. Don’t your customers deserve the same?

Customers Demand Speed, Convenience and Transparency

As Michele McGovern points out in her Customer Experience Insight article, Uber broke the mold and invented an entirely new way of exceeding customer expectations describing what today’s consumers expect from every service provider with whom they choose to do business. McGovern pointed out “three keys to delight” – speed, convenience and transparency.

As I speak with industry leaders every single day, they’re very focused on the concept of providing customers with an estimated time of arrival for crucial moments in the service journey. It seems simple, but the simple act of providing a clear ETA can help you immediately deliver on all three of those “keys to delight.”

1. Speed. Service providers, retailers and package carriers can use GPS mapping technology to correlate the availability of service and delivery vehicles with the target location, and can confidently predict exactly how long it will take to have personnel on-site. This ensures speedy fulfillment because customers are always prepared.

2. Convenience. Customers expect immediate, 24 x 7 responses to questions. For example, they know that by using artificial intelligence drawing on “big data” information repositories, companies have readily available answers to virtually every question they might have with no need for human intervention. An automatic and consistently updated ETA is one very simple format brands can deploy to ensure an accurate answer to questions like “Where’s my___?” are available any time customers ask, via their preferred communication channel.

3. Transparency. Leveraging interactive surveys and similar technologies, customers can see “star ratings” for service providers and make better purchasing decisions based on real customer-driven data. Customers have come to trust these peer-to-peer ratings almost implicitly, and love reading about the experiences of fellow users/customers. ETA-driven experiences can help you pinpoint the right moment to ask for that feedback (while the experience is still fresh).

What is the State of Last Mile Service & Delivery? Get the free download. 

Study How Other Companies Leverage Technology to Delight Their Customers

The leaders whose success we hear about every day – Amazon, UPS, FedEX and others – understand how to identify and leverage big data, artificial intelligence and the IOT to gather, assimilate and leverage information about 1) their products and services during the last mile and 2) their customers’ location to deliver speedy, convenient and transparent interactions. Our suggestion: Start with a recognizable concept like estimated time of arrival insight to start delighting customers right away.


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