It’s no surprise that hiring and retaining drivers is one of the most challenging aspects of managing any last-mile delivery fleet. From parcel and courier fleets to wholesale food or beverage deliveries, drivers have enormously challenging jobs. It’s not just handling large pallets or parcel volume. They’re on the front lines of customer service meaning that your customers see your drivers as their number one customer service representative – the de facto face of your business.
So how do you ensure that your drivers are set up to succeed, meeting customer commitments and delivering on your brand promise, while staying on plan and on schedule? For most fleets, it means they have to work to do better to support their drivers – especially in this era of driver shortages and an array of other employment opportunities.
Maintaining a high-quality, consistent experience for your customers is a challenge – but a worthwhile one – because research shows that people will spend more on a good customer experience. Given that customer experience is the new battlefield, organizations that understand this are winning in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer environments.
Let’s consider Amazon, for example. When ordering, customers simply place their order and get their products at a specified time (if all goes according to plan). But behind the scenes, there’s a lot at play to get that order to that customer’s doorstep. There are order cutoff times and considerations around whether orders should be split, for example. And then vehicles need to be packed and drivers assigned (based on qualifications and availability). And then the customer receives a notification based on the ETA that’s been calculated by a system somewhere. And at some point, this delivery is finally received.
Many people are involved to create that experience, but the majority of the perception of your brand depends on how that delivery is received. So what are you doing to support your drivers as the create that perfect delivery experience for your customers – whether consumers or B2B companies? What tools do your drivers have to manage their days? How much control do they have over their days? Can they handle exceptions or issues seamlessly, or do they need to be on the phone multiple times to address an issue?
What we find is that there’s not actually a driver shortage as much as there is a desire shortage in the pool of candidates. And successful fleet managers are finding ways to give drivers the tools and support they need to handle a complex, multifaceted job that comes with an enormous set of challenges.