Cross training has been a critical part of our internal processes for many years, but typically that has been performed at the customer service representative/fleet manager level and driver/fleet manager level. We believe cross training gives people the opportunity to gain a better understanding of each other’s jobs, as well as a greater appreciation for the challenges each other face on a day to day basis.
TMC recently made a bold move by introducing cross training at the VP level. Tim Heim, VP of Operations and Tiffany Hoeck, VP of Customer Service recently completed a two month cross training.
“It was the best thing we could have done as a company,” says Travis Johnson, EVP of Operations and Customer Service. “It started out a little rocky, but they stuck with it the entire two months. The easy thing would have been to stop when obstacles were encountered. Challenging ourselves like this does nothing but strengthen our company. Now, when a situation comes up they each have a better understanding of where the other person is coming from in the decisions that are being made.”
Below are Tim and Tiffany’s thoughts on the experience.
I had no customer service experience going into the cross training and I was a little hesitant. I felt like it was going to be like starting over. The first couple of weeks felt like a couple of months. It was starting over.
The most difficult part was adapting to the shift in focus that was needed. The focus of keeping drivers out of certain areas based on where the freight was or where we were sending drivers into on a certain day was new to me. Before the switch, I really was not that concerned where the driver was going to end up to get loaded just as long as they got loaded.
With the cross training, I have a better understanding of the challenges that face the customer service department to get the best freight available while keeping in mind the committed customers that we serve every day.
The best part of the cross training for me was getting a better understanding of what the customer service department goes through on a daily basis. I believe that the entire department has the drivers’ best interest in mind. They continuously factor revenue and driver home time into the freight they book.
Moving forward I will be able to better educate the fleet managers and the operations managers on the obstacles customer service goes through. I believe Tiffany and myself will have improved communication and the ability to make better decisions that will not only benefit the drivers, but the company as a whole.
Cross training over the past two months has been a valuable experience. It definitely allows you to take a different perspective on issues when you are looking over from the other side. Customer service and operations work very closely every day and we all have the same goal in mind – to load our drivers with the best possible freight and provide the home time they desire. There are times when we are all working toward the same goal, but our approaches can be quite different and clash. Being able to use the knowledge I have from customer service and obtaining a better understanding of the daily challenges that the fleet managers and the drivers encounter will be very beneficial. It will allow Tim and I to work on improving processes and communication.
My favorite part of the cross training was working with our drivers. The job they do is very difficult and being able to hear firsthand what their needs and wants are is very important to me. I can now relate to how customer service and the processes and plans that we have in place make a huge impact on each and every driver. They are the reason that we are all here and do what we do every day.
As I transition back to customer service, I will definitely have a deeper appreciation for our drivers and our customers and how we can better work together to continue to make TMC the best company.
This spring and summer several fleet managers will be going out on the road to ride with their drivers for cross training purposes. We also extend an open invitation for drivers to come into the office to cross train with both customer service and operations.