Driver Ambassador: Customer Experience Matters
by Kellylynn McLaughlin, on Mar 3, 2021 9:17:08 AM
Hear from Kellylynn herself! Take a listen to the podcast version below.
As those in the trucking industry know, the Post-Trip Inspection is a time to check and see if anything has changed with your equipment since you began your trip and if there are any items that need to be addressed before continuing on down the road. It’s a time to reflect, assess, and plan what’s next.
I’m reflecting on a recent customer experience I had during this season’s ice storms while training a new hire. We spent a week braving winter driving conditions in record cold temps. It was a bit like trial by fire for my student, but he did a great job continuing his learning journey with me while driving safely in inclement conditions. We went slow and did plenty of deep breathing exercises. To add to the stress and frustration of our week, we were repeatedly denied access to hygiene facilities at the shippers we serviced upon arrival…so disappointing. Yes, I am talking about this again!
I have heard that drivers should not expect anything more from shippers like hygiene facilities or safer parking for breaks. We know it is better than it used to be but that does not mean that we are done working on the issues, addressing challenges or sharing our perspectives. I, for one, just cannot accept the way it currently is.
I feel like we were just starting to make progress prior to COVID with access to shippers’ bathrooms and then we just went backwards. It’s so frustrating for me. Sometimes I can get into a shipper’s plumbed restroom because I am a lady and the person behind the counter either feels sorry for me or maybe is embarrassed to turn me away. But, most often it is a flat out “NO, we don’t have driver bathrooms.”
I want to share a visual with you of a multimillion-dollar facility that I went to recently. For the life of me I don’t understand why, if they are going to have drivers coming in and out of there, it is not required to provide outside access to a plumbed/heated/cooled break room and hygiene facilities by building or zoning regulations.
I recently shared the attached visual with some members of my carrier’s support staff. They were surprised that drivers are still expected to use those types of less than desirable facilities. They mistakenly believed customers were doing a better job of taking care of drivers. This was partially because they haven’t had the opportunity to visit customers last year and but also because no one had sent a picture of our driver reality. A picture is worth a thousand words right! They were then energized to renew conversations with shippers and receivers to improve access to hygiene facilities for drivers. For me that’s a very positive outcome!
I wish that shippers would give us a break – let us take our breaks onsite and provide drivers with heated/cooled/plumbed hygiene facilities. I wish they would realize that we are on the same team…we are all working together to move freight.
I would like to encourage my peers to work with their customers, brokers, customer service reps and leaders within organizations that interact with the shippers and receivers to share with them our needs. Encourage shippers to provide us with some humanity. Our job is hard enough as it is, and to not have those basic services accessible to us where we work is disrespectful and dehumanizing.
Here’s what we can do. We can continue to have these conversations in a polite and respectful manner with the companies we do business. We can use our collective voices to continue to highlight the importance of meeting drivers' needs and the essential role truck drivers fulfill every day. We can share with carriers and professional organizations the needs of ladies (and gentlemen) and highlight some of the barriers to attracting new professional drivers to an industry that so desperately needs them. We can build relationships with shippers, receivers and industrial business site developers to educate and promote the inclusion of the driver experience into facility design. We can participate in existing processes within carriers and membership organizations to collect feedback from drivers about facilities they visit and share that feedback with the facility managers, brokers and shippers.
We can do better. Let’s not settle - Instead let’s continue to strive for perfection.