Drivers Do More Than You Think
I wanted to note how important our drivers are and how invaluable they can be to the overall purchasing experience of our clients. These people are literally on the front lines validating our promise and commitment to providing the best service possible. They are the face of the company in the field, our emissaries, and our eyewitnesses to a satisfied (or dissatisfied) customer. Most of our drivers (if not all) will sit and wait for the client to examine the product before moving onto the next delivery. There will either be smiles and sighs of relief for meeting the client's expectations, or a cascade of complaints that our driver must endure before continuing his run. No one wants an unhappy customer, and drivers know that if the client is dissatisfied for whatever reason, as a company representative he must accept responsibility and try to assure them that the issue(s) will be addressed as soon as humanly possible.
Drivers are our last line of defense for making or breaking the print-buying experience we've all worked so hard to nuture and build. This position offers huge opportunities for obtaining valuable feedback from our clients, and how they interact with our service and brand. Time and again, I'm told that clients are just as candid and forthcoming when speaking with drivers as they are with their sales rep. (maybe even more so.) Their conversations are more direct and honest. Why? Because the sale has already been made, the product already bought and sold. The driver is there to witness whether or not the customer got what he/she paid for. And drivers hear it all, the good and the bad and everything in-between. Clients aren't shy in expressing to them what they feel, what they like and don't like, where the company has succeeded and where it's continued to miss the mark. They express their most relevant concerns in that moment, offering insight into how we can improve upon the service(s) we offer and the way we do business. Guess what? We need that feedback! This is the conversation we need to encourage. The beauty is this feedback can be acted on, and quickly in some cases. Drivers have often stepped in and saved the company from a huge customer relations disaster that could have potentially lost clients, simply by being proactive in addressing client concerns.
As a service provider you want to know how you're doing, and what better way to get true information than from representatives out there in the field, actually speaking with the client! I realize that this may not be practical for some companies, in which case a more robust customer relationship management (CRM) solution would be in order. But, it's clear that the potential drivers offer is rarely given credit, and we should take it to heart. Drivers have a wealth of information that's being under-utilized. Let's engage the client with every delivery, ask if they're satisfied with our service. Is there anything that we could do to improve their overall experience with us? Have weekly meetings with the drivers for a progress report, or even have Sales and Production personel ride shotgun to get a clear picture of what's going on. The conversation has already begun between the driver and client, long ago. We need to start tuning in.