Poor communication is one of the primary reasons Freight Agents lose customers. Are you making communication mistakes? Do you recognize the importance of communication? There is good news! Mistakes foster growth opportunities. Acknowledge your communication mistakes, learn how to improve, practice these adjustments, and see your customer loyalty thrive.
Mistake 1: Not Actively Listening
Failing to listen to your customers is detrimental. As an Independent Freight Agent, the best way to show your customer you value them is to listen with the purpose of understanding. How?
- Paraphrase what your customer says by making summary statements. Say, “It sounds like ___” or “I hear you saying ___.”
- Ask clarifying questions such as, “When you say ____, do you mean _____?”
- Express empathy by identifying emotions. You could say, “ I can see how that would cause frustration.”
- Avoid distractions when you are communicating. If you are talking on the phone, do not read an email at the same time. If you are talking in person, silence your phone.
- Seek to understand rather than express judgment. Try not to interrupt even if you disagree. Remember, your goal in active listening is to seek to understand.
By active listening, you show you understand your customer’s business. Even though you are not their employee, by your attentive listening and anticipation of their needs, you are seen as part of their company. You make their company work! In this way, your customers will not have an interest in working with anyone else but you. Active listening pays off.
Mistake 2: Overpromising
To put it simply, say what you mean. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. It is wise not to make assumptions. Set clear expectations whether a customer is new or not. For example, make sure your rate is clear, communicate when a load will actually arrive, confirm details about the location and freight in advance.
Taking the time to ensure you, your Driver, the shipper, and the receiver all have the same information is essential. When all parties have the same expectations, there is a greater likelihood of promising what you can deliver.
Mistake 3: Being Defensive
Problems will occur with deliveries. Instead of being defensive and reactive after your customer calls you with their concerns, be proactive! When a load is delayed, be open and transparent. Reach out to your customer before they call you. If there is an issue that will affect your customer, it’s time to call.
For example, you could inform your customer by saying, “There has been a problem with _____. I’m on it and working to resolve the situation by _____.” While it is not easy to admit problems or mistakes, showing you are aware of the situation and remedying it does two things. First, it provides an opportunity for the customer to make any necessary adjustments. Second, it shows your expertise in problem-solving.
This type of proactive communication is critical. If you have a team working with you, consider developing communication templates so they too respond in a similar manner.
Your Communication Matters
As an Independent Freight Agent, you want each of your customers to see you as a critical component of their company’s success. You can be seen as essential by avoiding these communication mistakes. When you communicate, strive to actively listen, say what you mean instead of overpromising, and be proactive rather than defensive. Communication isn’t just a nice skill to have, it has the potential to accelerate your success.
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