Chat Service Turns Web-Browsing Drivers to New Hires

August 9, 2013

Truck driver job-hopping, or "churning" has always been a problem for trucking fleets and an ever decreasing pool of qualified truck drivers makes reaching out to potential driver employees a critical issue for all carriers.

A new internet tool has been introduced that will not only help fleets attract drivers, but will allow drivers to more easily interact trucking companies they might want to work for.

Trucking industry marketing professional Mark Felker has launched a live, online service called "Idle Chat" that allows agents to monitor carrier web sites and social media recruitment pages to communicate live with driver visitors.

By engaging web-browsing drivers in personalized conversation, Idle Chat helps fleets maximize their advertising and online recruiting efforts, says Felker. "Idle Chat agents have a unique understanding of the driver culture, know how to represent a customer fleet, and understand how to connect with individual drivers.

There is an obvious need for a way for trucking companies to improve communications with potential employees, since there are more than 6 million Google keyword searches for truck driving jobs every month, Felker points out.

"Real-time chat with a live person goes a long way to turning web browsing drivers into new hires," he adds. "The digital chat concept has been proven to be successful."

"Advertising dollars push drivers to carrier web sites and social media pages," Felker said. "We add to that experience with live chat. We win if we stop the driver from job shopping and collect their name, email, and cell phone number, then forward that driver lead to recruiting for follow up."

Additional driver data is collected so follow up can evolve beyond a recruiter's call.

"We save online chats which is the first step for customer fleets to build a database of all drivers who come to their site, what path they use to get there, and what their chat questions are. The resulting database provides a valuable resource for analysis, follow up and perhaps more remarketing," Felker says.

"For example, with an individual driver's contact information, we can target a campaign to that driver's smart phone using SMS (Short Message Service) or MMS (Multimedia Message Service)," he adds.

Idle Chat's software enables a chat agent to see every driver on a company site and what page they're on at any given time. Idle Chat can also work on social media pages, landing pages and online ads.

The driver can take the initiative to click on a chat button or the chat agent can launch a proactive pop-up invitation to engage the driver. The agent might ask if the driver has any questions, for example.

"Our chat agents are very customer-oriented people. We profile each candidate to make sure they have the skills we need, then we train them for the companies they'll be chatting for. We also provide them a comprehensive knowledge base to draw from," Felker said.

Customer fleets provide the recruitment information for that purpose, he said, but agents are trained to answer only basic questions.

"We do not answer any number based-questions or discuss company policies unless we are given that info," Felker explained. "That's for the recruiters to deal with. We're here to engage the driver, to acquire information, push applications, and build a customer's database."

Prior to launch of the service, Idle Chat was tested by U.S. Xpress, the third largest truckload carrier in North America, and Melton Truck Lines, the premier international flatbed carrier.

Felker declined to provide any numbers of driver engagements from chat conversations or percentages of those finally recruited for any specific fleet. "That data belongs to our customer fleets. It's not something we share," he explained.

Felker did note, however, that Idle Chat agents will engage approximately one in every 10 prospects visiting a recruiting home page. Of that number, 25% to 35% will engage in further inquiry, such as application submission or personal contact with internal recruiters employed by the fleet.

"The bottom line is that our service is working very well," he said.

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