Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Sage Advice: Helpful, not harmful communications

By John A. Gentle, President of John A. Gentle & Associates
January 01, 2012

Consider this post-holiday scenario: You go to return something you received for Christmas, and when you finally get to the front of the exchange line after waiting 20 minutes, a smirking face behind the counter condescendingly tells you that “all you needed to do is pick out the right size and exchange it at the regular checkout counter.”

How were you supposed to know that, and why did it take so long to get that information? For those of us who occasionally volunteer to stand in line, two- or three-minute waits are certainly tolerable—although a simple sign would have gotten us out of the store a lot faster.

If you value your time and productivity, and you want your business partners’ employees to be able to communicate effectively without being frustrated by your employees and your communications systems, then it falls to you to ensure that every logistics organization inside your company works passionately and intelligently toward that end.

For example, here’s a common yet critical communication choke point that merits your attention: Warehouse personnel and management are flat wrong when they say that it’s not their job to keep carriers and drivers moving; to stay informed about appointments, loading, and unloading delays; or getting their paperwork signed in a timely manner. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

These warehouse teams need to ensure that carriers have easy access to your messaging systems that provide directions; safe driving rules inside your complex; proper check-in procedures; as well as counting and load-securement information.

My experience is that ware handlers—I used to be one—are very impatient people. They consistently and rightly remind us that they have important things to accomplish during their shift, and they don’t need interruptions or any delays. When we installed an automated WMS, any delay over three seconds was met with complaints, and delays of a minute resulted in operators trying, sometimes successfully, to ignore the system and put the product in bays that they thought were reasonable. 

Imagine how you would feel if warehouse personnel consistently and intentionally ignored you, seemingly taking pleasure in making you wait until they’re good and ready? Why would you want to do business with these companies?

Likewise, your company’s dispatch team needs to be well staffed and well educated to ensure that superior communications are in place that can facilitate extraordinary events like system failures, surge, vacations, illnesses, reconsignments, returns, and detention. Progressive companies have websites that allow carriers to secure the information they need to operate efficiently and make sure their drivers are making the most of their operating and driving hours.

Now more than ever it’s critical that your logistics organizations provide highly visible, self-help information systems and act in an empathetic and helpful manner to assist drivers, dispatchers, and other carrier administrative teams in the execution of their business on your behalf.

Your teams first needs to answer the phone and then use phrases like “How can I help you” rather than “I’m busy what do you want?” If you hate long lines coupled with impersonal and unhelpful staff, then you know what poor service looks like. My question to you is: Have you really tested to see if your staff treats your carriers any better?

About the Author

John A. Gentle
President of John A. Gentle & Associates

John A. Gentle is president of John A. Gentle & Associates, LLC, a logistics consulting firm specializing in contract/relationship management and regulatory compliance for shippers, carriers, brokers, and distribution centers. A recipient of several industry awards, he has more than 35 years of experience in transportation and logistics management. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Mexico's growing importance in the continental supply chain is now being recognized by North American transportation groups

Satish Jindel, president of Pittsburgh-based SJ Consulting, says that one way for LTL carriers to improve both their bottom lines and overall productivity is to get a better grasp on the cost of handling a shipment and the pricing they have for it.

Falling 5.5 cents to $2.668 per gallon, this follows last week’s 5.9 cent decline for the lowest weekly average price going back to the week of October 14, 2009, when it was at $2.60 per gallon.

With the latest round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in Maui, Hawaii ending without a deal, U.S. supply managers may be adjusting to other global sourcing strategies.

The PMI, the ISM’s index to measure growth fell 0.8 percent to 52.7 (a PMI of 50 or greater represents growth). PMI growth has been at 50 or higher for 31 straight months (with the overall economy growing for 74 months), and the current PMI is 1.7 percent below the 12-month average of 54.4.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA