In my travels and onsite visits to customers, I’ve started to notice a welcomed emphasis in the way that management views the operating performance of their shipping facilities across the US. I’m sure we have all heard it before, but becoming a “Shipper of Choice” continues to drive the industry forward into smoother interactions between drivers, carriers, and the shippers.
Why is being a shipper of choice so important for everyone?
What are drivers saying about facilities?
Nussbaum has taken a step towards understanding what classifies a “shipper of choice” from the driver’s perspective. But first, we must consider why getting that information from drivers is so critical to making change happen.
A coming driver shortage.
We have heard about it for years now. University students have written thesis papers on the subject. Logistics and transportation economist have discussed it at conferences. CEO’s have eluded to it on major news networks. It has pinned the eyes of the industry on the most important piece of this puzzle that is called transportation, the Drivers.
Each dock they bump, or location they deliver to, is an experience that impacts a driver's draw to the industry.tweet this
There is a shortage that becomes increasingly realized if you are a carrier that has not treated drivers like your number one customer. Honesty, respect, service, nice equipment, and pay all play a huge role in that. But one aspect that is just as crucial to these drivers is the experience at the shipper. Are the customers they deal with easy to work with? Do they help meet the needs of a driver miles away from home? The initiatives taken to become a shipper of choice can be anything from shorter wait times at the dock or as simple as a pleasant staff on site and bathrooms at the facility.
Each dock they bump, each location they deliver to, is an experience that could positively or a negatively affect their draw to the industry. Gathering driver feedback and following through with it will be the first step to help carriers and shippers understand what reasonable changes could be made.
One thing our organization has done to capture the pulse of the driver experience at each shipper is to collect the driver's feedback on every load that they run. After each load they deliver, a prompt pops up on their computer asking them to rate that load as “good” or “bad”. To help elaborate on the reasoning for their rating, we then give them the opportunity to add any comments in the next box.
This is where it gets fun.
As a carrier, you really give yourself a unique chance to break through the surface conversations and plunge deep into the meat of what they are truly experiencing onsite. With more than 300 drivers hauling a thousand loads per week, the next steps become clear. It’s one thing to collect this information, but what do you do with it?
One of the ways we have turned this information into actionable steps is by tracking the percentage of loads that are marked “good”.
As a company, we have challenged ourselves to a goal of a 96% load satisfaction rating. Each week we pull up the data and look through the comments made for both the “good” loads and the “bad”. The reasoning may vary, but what you start to see is a trend at specific shipping locations.
We also pick a driver, give him/her a call, and simply listen. Using the positive feedback, we make calls to our customers to praise them and congratulate them for their success. Even citing specific examples that a driver had noted about one of their dock workers, guards or overall experience with that shipper.
Similarly, we take the locations that are trending “bad” and communicate it to our customers or our operations people if it is a reasonable and “fixable” issue. Our goal is not to be a difficult carrier to do business with. The opposite is true. Talking through a situation at one of your customer’s locations can be a very insightful conversation. It fulfills the definition of being a business partner and strengthens the relationships between shipper and carrier.
The term “Shipper of Choice” is not just a buzz word anymore and you don’t arrive there by accident.tweet this
Shippers want to be easy to work with. They want to create an environment of efficiency at their plants and promote an experience of being exceptional people to do business with. The term “Shipper of Choice” is not just a buzz word anymore and you don’t arrive there by accident. It’s diligently following through with the feedback received from listening to the drivers in your network. With drivers, carriers, and shippers working together, we inch closer towards an industry that is more pleasant for all to work in.
As Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people”.