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Graham Hurdle blog: 15 September - Parcel delivery or service delivery?

Date: 16 September 2015

Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World

What's the primary role of your drivers?

Like many people I regularly shop online. It means I often have no personal contact with anyone from the store I'm buying from, apart from when the driver arrives with my shopping.

This makes the delivery driver my only human connection with the company (and in many instances he/she is from an agency and not employed by the retailer). But I feel that, for many businesses, this person is often the forgotten part of customer care, but potentially the most important.

If you have a fleet of vehicles making deliveries to people's homes or businesses, you hope that your drivers will be polite and helpful to your clients. But have you ever stopped to think of the factors that could affect the chances of them behaving that way?

Take, for example, a driver who feels he/she is expected to make too many deliveries in a day, has been inundated with messages from the depot saying that customers are complaining and that he/she needs to hurry up, has just been cut up at the lights by someone in a flashy sports car - and all of this is happening after they have already been stuck in stationary traffic for hours!

The likelihood is they may not greet every customer with a smile or have the patience to offer the service required. I recall one occasion when I had a wardrobe delivered and the chap was in such a foul mood he dumped the huge box on my front lawn, said 'sign here' and drove off leaving me to work out how to get it into the house on my own. I've never ordered from that company since, yet if he'd spent those 3 or 4 crucial minutes offering great service I would have remained a loyal customer.

The reality is, though, that driving affects our mood. Equally, our mood affects our driving. Improved driving techniques, such as better hazard perception, how to manage your reactions when faced with aggressive drivers, and the importance of taking time to 'calm down' (if angry, upset or even excited!) before taking to the road all combine to deliver a far less stressful (and much safer) experience on the road - and happier delivery drivers for your customers! 

Please, therefore, do not pigeonhole driver training as simply 'how to drive better'. Its benefits reach far beyond that, and have widespread advantages to any company that relies on its drivers to deliver great service with a smile to customers, as well as their shopping!