Should Your Drivers Receive Customer Support Training?
Christmas is coming, along with the very busy holiday shopping season. It’s a prime time for anyone hauling and shipping. Is your company ready for it? And more importantly—are your drivers ready for it?
Most trucking companies wouldn’t think twice about requiring CSR (customer service representative) training for sales and account people who regularly talk to customers about orders and deliveries. But many companies never consider CSR training for their drivers, even though your customers may interact with your drivers more than anyone else in your organization.
Your Drivers Are Your Brand’s Face
That’s right—your drivers. They’re picking up, loading, unloading, and dropping off the freight for your customers every day. In many cases, they interact lot more with customers than anyone else. Your salespeople may interact on the phone, but drivers regularly have “face time” time with them. Drivers are the ones who are called upon to take care of shipment problems and other unforeseen difficulties. How they relate with those customers will say a lot about your brand and your company—and whether you’ll get more business from them.
A driver is the brand and the face of your company when they arrive at a customer’s facility. They should greet customers like anyone in your company would—professionally, respectfully, and with a smile. But are your drivers doing that?
If you assume your drivers are being professional when they visit a customer’s facility, you may be assuming too much. A professional, well-trained driver can minimize the impact of a late shipment, but negative interactions with your driver can cancel a new order or end a good business relationship. Good relationships with drivers are frequently reported to upper management. But if one of your drivers has ever said to a customer, “well, it’s not my problem,” it’s yours now.
Customer support training for drivers actually isn’t all that unusual, and UPS is well-known for its consistent driver training. If your company doesn’t have regular CSR training for your drivers, it might be time to consider implementing it as part of the driver’s yearly mandatory training. Teaching drivers (especially new ones) how to handle both expected and unexpected situations will go a long way in establishing and maintaining good business relationships.
Online Or Live Training?
Live, in-person training is difficult for drivers who don’t visit terminals very often. Online training is an efficient, cost-effective method for drivers to train when they have time, and can access anytime with mobile devices. An online training environment can provide a testing ground where drivers can practice customer service simulations, ask questions, and learn off the road without fear of failure or other consequences. Standardized training ensures that all the drivers are on the same page and nothing is missed.
CSR training can include:
- Professional behavior on customer calls/deliveries, including small talk for relationship building
- Checklists for unloading and other procedures
- Safe unloading and delivery
- Handling the unexpected
- Helping irate customers
- What to do when asked for additional services
- Professional dress and personal hygiene
- Anything else your company wants to ensure your drivers are aware of and practice
In-person training can be included where it’s needed and the driver is available.
Regular mandatory training should go beyond the orientation sessions, including customer support training.
It’s easy to have a mandatory training once and figure the driver “knows how to handle it,” but it’s probably a bad idea. Regular training not only teaches but reinforces good customer service, instead of just a Band-Aid approach. Otherwise, your employees may slip back into bad habits, and your customers will notice the difference.
Teach Your Drivers Well
How your drivers behave and react at a customer’s delivery point speaks volumes about your company. Make sure they are equipped and empowered to not only load and unload, but handle the unexpected and interact professionally with your customers. Both your drivers and customers will appreciate it, and will make future transactions much easier.