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Connecting Drivers and the Back Office is Mission Critical

It’s a saying we’ve all heard: “Employees don’t leave a company, they leave the people at the company.” Of course, a negative work culture in any industry leads to turnover. But in commercial transportation, where personal connections are often key to doing business, it’s mission critical to promote a healthy relationship and strong communication between not only shippers and carriers, but drivers and back-office staff.

Research from MIT, Tenstreet and more all point to an interesting finding: dispatchers and other back-office support staff can have an outsized impact on driver job satisfaction, and therefore, retention.

Consider this statistic from a Tenstreet survey of new drivers: “For drivers who are brand new to their carrier, the top issues reported [included] better instruction on the dispatch process.” In fact, this complaint appeared in the Top three issues according to more than 90% of respondents to their new driver survey.

As Drive My Way put it in a recent article on the subject: “If a truck driver finds themselves working with a dispatcher they dislike, it won’t be long before they start looking for a different opportunity.”

Add in an already challenging driver shortage and capacity crisis, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. So, what can fleets do to ensure that dispatchers and other back-office staff are communicating clearly and proactively with drivers to foster a good relationship?

According to Drive My Way, companies that spend time carefully matching dispatchers and drivers may see increased driver retention, but it’s also important to consider the tools being used to communicate:

  • How user-friendly are they?
  • Are they up-to-date?
  • Do they make workflows easier or harder for both drivers and back-office staff?
  • How frequently do they need updating?
  • When they do need updating, can you do it quickly and painlessly over-the-air, or do you need to pull drivers off the road to make updates in person?

Taking a close look at your fleet management tools as part of a program focused on job satisfaction and safety could have a positive impact on retention, while also improving relationships between colleagues. Read on to learn more about how Trimble centers communication at the core of its new Instinct in-cab solution.

Importance of In-Cab Connection

It’s natural that drivers may initially be skeptical of the effectiveness of an in-cab application or device, primarily thinking of them as an infringement of privacy or a way to micromanage their activities. But when implemented in a supportive environment where they’re an aspect of a holistic fleet management program, these solutions can increase productivity, driver retention and safety.

A 2021 study from MIT researchers found that dispatchers do indeed have an impact on driver performance, and can utilize at least three “managerial levers” to improve fleet performance, including:

  • The weekday a driver works
  • Equality of distribution of freight plans
  • Size of the team a dispatcher manages

By using these levers, researchers concluded that “freight carriers can themselves mitigate the impact from the challenges facing the American freight industry today.” Importantly, leveraging these “levers” requires an open line of communication between back-office staff and drivers.

So, how can a fleet support and encourage more opportunities for open communication while drivers are on the road? Enter Instinct, Trimble’s reimagined in-cab ecosystem of applications for fleet management, safety and driver experience.

Instinct: Built for Collaboration

As transportation technology evolves to support every aspect of a driver’s day, in-cab devices and solutions are becoming integral to driver retention and safety. This is especially true as a more competitive landscape and higher customer demands drive the pace of the global supply chain forward.

Trimble’s vision of a connected transportation supply chain truly starts with the connection between drivers and back-office staff -- that’s why we’ve made the element of connectivity a centerpiece of our Instinct in-cab ecosystem of applications by adding remote access capabilities.

The Instinct solution allows drivers to receive messages, forms, workflow communications, documents, and more in near real-time. The new remote access capability enables back-office staff to easily help drivers troubleshoot issues on the road and provide assistance when needed. When a driver calls for assistance, back office personnel can initiate a remote session, at which point the driver will see a notification asking if they would like to connect with the back office. When the connection is accepted, the dispatcher or fleet manager can troubleshoot in real time.

This functionality empowers drivers and the back office to work more closely together than they have in the past. With Remote Access, dispatchers and fleet managers can view what the driver sees on screen to shorten support calls, reduce driver frustration and better train support and drivers. Plus, this function lets back office staff deal with technical issues and collection information, so drivers can focus on what they do best: driving.

Staying Connected

When it comes to the relationship between dispatchers and drivers, the MIT study concluded definitively: “Dispatchers are more than just administrators: they are perhaps the lynchpin linking driver and carrier goals.”

That’s why fostering an open, proactive and responsive line of communication between drivers and back-office staff is mission critical for trucking – staying connected is more important than ever before, and can make or break a fleet’s driver retention.

To learn how you can empower your fleet with Instinct, visit: