The phone rings.
“Bob and Tom’s Towing, this is Bob, how can I help you?”
Different names, different places, but every day, thousands of conversations start just like this and end with something along the lines of: “Thanks for choosing us,” “Hope you have a better day,” or “Good luck!”
But the middle is where all the interesting stuff is. That’s where we live, in muck and the mud, the bad day that just got worse. That’s what we’re there for, the chaos! The trick is to not let the chaos rattle and consume you. The words of the poet come to mind: “to keep your wits about you when all about you are losing theirs!”
So how do we do it? How do we stand in the middle of the chaos and remain in control?
The first aspect is information, joined at the hip with communication - Good communication! That is the most effective weapon in the fight against chaos. What problem could you not solve if the proper information was given with perfect communication?
Here’s an example. Bob answers the phone like he always does and from the other end of the line the story starts to unfold. “My ford pickup broke down and needs to be towed.” So Bob proceeds to get a description of the vehicle: a green 2007 Ford F-350. He also gets information regarding the vehicles pickup and drop off locations. A pretty standard call, all things considered.
Now Bob relays the info to Tom. Tom then goes out to help the customer.
But when Tom pulls up on scene in his F-650 carrier he gets a surprise: not only does he find the bright green pickup, but attached to it is a 35’ 5th wheel trailer.
Is Tom equipped to handle this call? Nope! So now he’s scrambling trying to figure out what options he has, while the customer, his wife and three yapping dogs express their concern and displeasure at the prospect of waiting another 30-45 minutes for the other truck to get there to solve the problem.
Now, on the one hand, you could say to yourself the guy should have told him that he had a trailer to start with. And that may be true, but there are some questions you need to ask yourself before you go down the road of blaming someone else.
- Who is the professional?
- Are you, the operator, responsible for your own actions?
- Did the dispatcher(Bob) get all the information that was needed to efficiently do the call?
- Did Bob have the training he needed to understand the situation and know what questions to ask the customer?
- Did Tom follow up with the customer to make sure the information he received was accurate and complete?
The more of these questions you ask, the more you can see that there is plenty of blame to go around. And while pointing the finger at someone else’s mistake may feel better, that is never going to lead to a better place! Taking responsibility for your own action or inaction must be your first move if you want to be successful.
When was the last time you participated in or organized a training session with operators and dispatchers?
Do your dispatchers have the necessary skills and tools to do their job so well that it makes the operators job easier?
Do the operators understand what the office staff needs from them in order to make their jobs easier?
Do you and your team truly act like a team? Or is that room filled with people who are less interested in helping each other and more interested shining the light on other’s mistakes?
Whatever position you find yourself in, owner, manager, operator, or office staff. Figure out how you can be your best and lift those around you. Actively participate in company training. Ask how you can help your coworkers and teammates. Give honest and constructive feedback, and listen when that is given to you!
Take ownership of yourself and see what kind of progress you can make.