Most drivers and owner operators forget the importance of customer service because they don’t feel that they have to deal with the clients directly. They are very wrong and in a big way. If you are an owner operator have you thought about who your clients are in reality? Doing this exercise may surprise you if you take it seriously. So let’s look at how you affect the clients while conducting deliveries and communicating with clients. If you run the open board you may not concern yourself with customer service because many drivers don’t think they will return to that client unless they are on dedicated run. The truth is that any client that ships or receives goods with the company by truck deserves the best customer service available from every driver. In the industry we hear about customer service departments, business executives, and don’t see how we are involved in the important aspects of the client but the truth is that each customer has a number of points of contact that the company will be in contact with them. So what are those points?
Usually for any large contracts the top executives or appointed sales force will be involved and that will be the first point and most important in the beginning. That will be the point where all of the negotiations will take place to secure the customer’s freight contract. Once that point is completed it will diminish in contact to a point, but is still a critical point in the process. The next point will be the transport company internal client service department, such as customer service, order management, and so on. This point of contact is also critical and may or may not be in direct contact with the client depending on the order management system. This second point may also be done by a third party such as a load broker or load board service, but is still critical to great client service. The next point is you, the driver and may be the most critical point of all for the company. You are the live person dealing with another live person and basically could be the face of the company. Whether you are dealing with a receiver on the dock, a shipper in the yard, or phoning the front office for directions you are the face of the company and should be representing them as such. How you dress, the way you talk, and the ways you act are all important to how the client views your company. Are you pleasant to be around, are you patient when waiting for the load, is your trailer organized and clean? Or are you the opposite, have a filthy trailer, you haven’t showered in a few days, and are tired and grumpy, just a picture of professionalism to be sarcastic. Everyone has a part to play and you need to do yours.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a leadership and business consultant specializing in the transportation industry. He can be reached at http://www.outridge.ca