Hello, I’ll Be Your Trucker Today
Every person a driver deals with is a customer to impress
By Timothy D. Brady
Will Rogers once said “I never met a man I didn’t like.” While that statement can be hard to swallow at times, in the pick up and delivery of goods it applies to any customer. Shippers entrust a trucker with a product directly related to the success or failure of the shipper’s company, an item of extreme value, or an heirloom with sentimental value far exceeding its monetary worth.
To define customer service in the trucking industry, “Who’s the customer?” is the first question. The obvious answer is the shipper, but it’s equally important not to forget the receiver when it comes to customer service. However, as a trucker you need to be sure to remember the ‘other’ customers—any broker or trucking company with which you do business.
To complete the definition, providing customer service to these entities applies to anyone who drives a truck: independent owner-operator, lease-operator or company driver. All truckers are responsible for assigned loads reaching their destination on time and in the same condition they were when loaded. Easily said, but to accomplish this requires a long list of duties, which in turn determines the quality of service the shipper, receiver, broker and trucking company gets. Every driver needs to master these skills. It’s imperative for success and the determining factor on your bottom line.
The moving experience
One area of trucking where customer service is considered in every conversation and every “move” the driver makes is the household goods mover or moving van operator.
“Customer service must be constantly on the mover’s mind,” says Tony Mom, a household goods van operator and trucking veteran of more than 30 years. “The shippers — just by having to pack and move all their worldly goods — are dealing with a lot of anxiety, excitement and worry. They’re giving all their belongings to a perfect stranger. It takes ‘kid gloves’ to do this in a fashion that protects the shipper, the carrier and the van operator.”
Consistency is also key. Provide the same high level of service every time and there will be fewer post-load problems.
Bear in mind the van operator is also the one who inventories each piece of furniture, carton and broomstick he places into his trailer. That inventory includes documenting every scratch, dent and crack of these shippers’ valued possessions. And ultimately, communication is the key to everything.
“A van operator must understand what’s important to the shipper and then constantly address those concerns during the course of the move,” says Mom. “Then there’s communication with the help every van operator hires to assist in loading or unloading the truck. Loading household goods is an art; it’s the assembly of a three-dimensional puzzle where each piece has to be considered in relation to what’s under it, next to it, over it, in front of it and behind it. That takes total focus and communication between helpers, loader and van operator so the truck doesn’t get stacked up with the wrong pieces first, which quickly bottlenecks the whole operation.”
Mom is talking about a specialized type of trucking work, but it really does apply to any haul. Regardless of who the shipper, receiver, broker or trucking company is, if you accept their job, that shipment becomes your total focus, and deserves your very best service. All of this results in higher-paying loads, thus putting more money in your pocket along with the satisfaction of doing a great job.
And you’ll never meet a customer you don’t like.
Some drivers see customer relationships improve when they dress to impress, read more.