When the supply chain tangles, these folks have a plan

Drivers, Office Careers, Our People, Shippers

Our service legends share their best tips for keeping everyone happy, from customers and partner carriers to shippers and our own drivers.

What’s happening: A small but mighty group of folks work in the background of every delivery, connecting the links that keep the supply chain moving — and untangling the kinks when things don’t go as expected.

Why it matters: These folks are a gold mine of information about how to work well with nearly everyone involved in moving goods, so we asked them for their best customer experience tips.  

The bottom line: Whether they’re learning trucking lingo and predicting problems, building personal relationships with a smile, or triple-checking every detail, the people behind the people behind the wheel help keep goods moving better.  

While professional drivers are arguably the most visible part of our business, there’s a small but mighty group of folks in the background, connecting every link that keeps the supply chain moving — and untangling the kinks when a delivery doesn’t go as expected.

No shortcuts

Rhonda Keele has been with U.S. Xpress for 36 years. In her role as a customer experience representative, Rhonda has several tried-and-true techniques for managing the unexpected, but one in particular stands out.

“I try to never take shortcuts,” Rhonda said.

That means double- and even triple-checking every detail to make sure everyone has what they need to get the goods going, whether she’s confirming a truck is on the way or tracking down trailers, which can be a trickier task than you might expect. 

“When it comes to checking trailer pools, it’s easy to just check to make sure they’ve got enough trailers,” she said. “I go beyond that and reconcile the trailer pool with every trailer the customer has and make sure their system matches our system, and that way we won’t have lost trailers.”

But all the checking in the world sometimes can’t stop things from going awry, and when that happens, the best policy is to communicate quickly.

“If I know a load is going to be late, I tell the customer immediately so they can get all their ducks in a row,” Rhonda said. “There’s almost always a solution, as long as you communicate.”

Smiles for miles

Customer Experience Enterprise Rep Vanessa Sutton has spent the last 23 years with U.S. Xpress, and every day of those more than two decades, she has smiled at every customer she has talked with, even though most of them couldn’t see her.

“They can’t see you smile, but they can hear you smile,” Vanessa said. “I tell my kids all the time, ‘It’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it.’”

The time she takes to build personal relationships with customers makes business run more smoothly — especially when things don’t go according to plan. But Vanessa also just enjoys getting to know the folks who work alongside her in the business of moving goods, whether they’re manufacturers, partner carriers, shippers, or receivers.

“I just enjoy people, so when I ask you how your day is going, I am going to wait for the answer because I really want to know,” Vanessa said. “We’re all working together, and having that personal connection makes it so much better.”

That personal connection also helps when the time comes to work on challenges together, and Vanessa jumps on those immediately any time they arise.

“We can’t control some of the things that can happen, whether it’s a traffic jam or bad weather or a driver who’s sick, but it’s our job to keep everyone informed and figure it out,” Vanessa said. “The faster we get after it, the faster we can fix it.”

Predicting the future

Customer Experience Growth Rep Marcia Gibson has been working with U.S. Xpress customers for 23 years, and while she can’t exactly predict the future, she has gotten pretty good at anticipating it.

“Tracking and tracing and trying to be proactive are my highest priorities,” Marcia said. 

By understanding everything from the limits on how many hours a driver can be behind the wheel to the technical terms customers and drivers use to communicate, Marcia can spot trouble and help keep goods moving.

“Knowing transit times and drivers’ hours of service, learning the lingo, it all helps me understand what’s going on with a delivery, and what might happen next,” Marcia said.

She would always rather be proactive than reactive, and Marcia makes that her goal in all her communications with customers and with partner carriers.

“If we try something new, I’ll watch and see how it works,” Marcia said. “If it works, I’ll add that information to our database so we know to do that the next time.”

Partnership and problem-solving

Customer Experience Growth Rep Diane May has been supporting U.S. Xpress customers for 34 years, and her father was an owner/operator for a predecessor company. Her career has been a long one and a good one, Diane said, and she credits a partnership mindset as one secret to her success.

“When I was assigned my main account nine years ago, we spent a lot of time learning about them, and they shared a lot with us,” Diane said. “We have learned from each other, and really understanding each other means everyone can be productive and successful.”

Keeping a cool head no matter what happens and focusing on outcomes are also keys to keeping goods moving, Diane said. 

“Whatever happens, you just have to deal with it and accept that it’s part of the business,” she said. “If it was always easy, everybody would do it. A lot of the job is just in how you deal with challenges and how you keep working through issues and solving that problem together.”

Related Posts

A strong coach goes a long way

A strong coach goes a long way

Lucretia Richard was a new CDL holder looking for a place to launch her career when she posted on a Facebook group for professional drivers. Debra Gates, who has been over-the-road for U.S. Xpress for more than five years…

read more
Taking pride in her journey

Taking pride in her journey

As a professional driver and a transgender woman, Staci Anne Bruneau has built a thriving business and a great life at the wheel with her wife, Holly.

read more