The ready mix driver climbs into the cab of a $150,000 piece of equipment, transports about $800 worth of material and serves as the primary interface with a customer whose lifetime value to the company could easily exceed a million dollars.

Yet, for most companies, investment in the driver who is responsible for these assets is minimal or non-existent. Expenditures on equipment, technology, and efficiencies are all foregone conclusions while drivers are forgotten.

Drivers are the faces of the company. When they arrive on the job site, the customer assigns their performance to the whole company. Drivers own 85% of the customer experience. When the customer judges the company’s customer service, he thinks mostly of the job site support.

Drivers are the holders of operational insight. They see hundreds of improvements that can be made; yet typically no one asks them. After all, they are just drivers.

It is time for producers to dramatically re-think the role of their drivers in several areas.

Professionalism — First of all, drivers are delivery professionals. What if your UPS driver showed up in anything they chose to wear that morning? You would be put off by the lack of professionalism. Yet many producers turn a blind eye to their own drivers’ appearance.

Training — Besides the important job of operating the equipment effectively and safely, drivers own most of the customer interface. Educating them in effective interpersonal interaction, courtesies and service recovery is imperative. Would you put someone in a QC position without a thorough knowledge of mix design? That’s unthinkable. Yet drivers interact with customers all day long without the proper training in providing a superior customer experience. And somehow that is considered okay.

Feedback — Drivers are operations and process improvement catalysts. Drivers know when the usage codes are not being filled in on tickets. They know when directions are wrong. They have real job site information knowing if the load is questionable, the customer happy or unhappy. They know if there are finishing issues. They know if the truck is being loaded too quickly and the load is wrong. They know if trucks are stacking up on the job site. They know if there are plant issues and the specific nature of those challenges.

So the question begs; what is your “real time” process to listen to the drivers and use the information so the same issue doesn’t occur again?

When companies value their drivers, they invest in them, educate them, and listen to them. The ROI is radical. Try it.

Joan Fox is a customer experience consultant to the ready-mix industry and a popular conference speaker. She can be reached at 513-793-9582