Helping drivers succeed is a priority for CitizenShipper. If you’re just starting out on the marketplace or are new to transportation, winning that first bid can feel like a major challenge.

If winning on CitizenShipper was simply a game of who offers the lowest price, your profile and customer communication wouldn’t matter. But the truth is, 55% of customers on the marketplace don’t choose the transporter with the lowest bid. Most customers prioritize a standout profile, clear indicators of experience, positive reviews and an eagerness to assist — not necessarily the lowest price.

In addition to building a standout profile and mastering route planning and logistics, great customer communication is another major pillar of success on CitizenShipper. Veteran drivers and new drivers alike can benefit from an improved messaging strategy.

Read on for helpful tips on writing intros that sell and for further guidance, attend our free training webinars and read up in the Help Center.

First Impressions Matter

While a standout profile catches the attention of shippers, it will only take you so far. Drivers that struggle to win bids often haven’t developed an engaging customer communication strategy. Our internal data shows that drivers who’ve honed their messaging strategies are significantly more likely to win shipments.

What do we mean by an engaging customer communication strategy? Essentially it’s deciding what you’ll say to a potential customer, how often you follow up and when you’ll message them.

Our messaging system makes customer communication easy.

Customer Communication Through the Messaging Platform

The Messaging Platform is mobile optimized so you can conduct customer communication when you’re on the road. The platform is divided into sections:

  • Chats — this is where your communications with the customer are located after you receive a response from them. It’s similar to other instant messaging apps like iMessage or Google Chat.
  • Intros — located at the very middle, this menu option is a place where you can review the introduction messages and quotes sent to customers prior to them responding. You’ll be able to tell which of these were seen by them by a double blue checkmark at the bottom of the message summary.
  • Bookmarked — this feature can be used in both Chats and Intros tabs respectively to bookmark a conversation that you would like to highlight among all others, using a “flag” icon on the right side of the conversation box.
  • Unread Conversations — at the very bottom of the screen, the middle footer icon that allows you to access your messages also comes with a widget which will tell you how many unread conversations are waiting for your immediate attention.

Message Before Bidding

Our marketplace is made up of actual people with real anxiety about trusting a stranger to transport their most valuable items. Because of this, first impressions matter.

Some drivers may not realize this, but you shouldn’t rely on the About Me section to tell customers your story. Messaging is your chance to capture the shipper’s attention.

Address these four value points and explain why you’re the best choice:

  • Trust — explain why you are a reliable transporter, citing previous transports and pointing out your positive reviews. In case you don’t have any done on the site so far, you can let the customer know that you will provide them with references upon booking.
  • Anxiety — acknowledge that they’re probably apprehensive about shipping a pet or belonging with a stranger. Address the elephant in the room so that they can see you are aware of their doubts.
  • Quality — here’s another chance to point out why you offer a higher-quality service than others on the platform. While you don’t have reviews yet, talk about any special experience or equipment that separates you from the competition.
  • Customer Service — you may charge more, but shippers find that a responsive and friendly transporter is usually worth the extra cost. And also the one that “knows what they’re doing,” so make sure to ask as many questions as possible and have an answer to any of their concerns ready to showcase your expertise.

Pro Tip #1

When you’re communicating with the customer, use direct, to-the-point language. Avoid writing long blocks of text — bullet points are a great way to present information and make your message easier to scan. Remember to be personable — customers are looking for human beings, not robots. And make sure that the reading time is below 15 seconds, humans have a really short attention span.

Customers expect to receive communication throughout the bidding process.

Start with a Well-Written and Detailed Introductory Message

The first customer communication you’ll have is through your introductory message. This is your opportunity to tell the shipper why you’re the right choice for their transportation needs.

Always send an introduction through the Messaging Platform before placing a bid. There are several reasons to lead with a message instead of a bid:

  • Leading with a quote doesn’t show the customer a personal touch. They want to feel like they are talking to a human they can trust.
  • Opening with a bid leaves you with less leverage to justify your price. Like in any good TV commercial, the price always comes last, so always talk about the benefits first.
  • Introducing yourself first is a way for the customer to get to know you and feel comfortable entrusting you with their valuables.
  • You should demonstrate your skill and experience — don’t worry if you haven’t completed dozens of shipments yet. Just make sure they get the sense you can complete the job. 

Examples of Introduction Messages

If you’re an experienced transporter, make sure to highlight your experience and accomplishments. Direct the customer to read your excellent reviews and point out your rating on CitizenShipper.

If you’re new to CitizenShipper, that’s okay! Everyone has to start somewhere. You can use this to your advantage by leveraging your desire to get a great review and positive feedback. Great customer communication is even more important for new drivers.

Even if you’ve never transported professionally, you can state other relevant experiences. Mention how long you’ve been a pet owner, any experience you have driving in inclement weather. Then, remove anxiety with statements like, “I will treat your pets like my own” or, “I will absolutely do everything to be sure your ‘fur babies’ have a fun road trip with me.”

Focus on the Issues

Price and the dates of transport are the two components you can negotiate with the customer. One way to win more bids is to be flexible on your price, especially if you can get the customer to adjust dates that match your schedule — allowing you to plan round trips or stack shipments.

Sometimes customers will have unrealistic expectations, like requesting you complete a 2,000 mile trip in only two days. When this happens, explain that while you understand their need for urgency, the trip cannot be safely completed in that time frame.

Explain that for the pet’s safety and comfort, you’ll need to take frequent breaks for walks, to use the bathroom and to feed their dog. To add empathy to your message, explain that you like to keep the animal’s schedule as close to normal as possible because it eases their anxiety. Then, propose a timeline that is more realistic.

Here’s a training video from our driver team on how to make a great first impression through messaging:

Pro Tip #2

As with many competitive marketplaces, speed is paramount to success on CitizenShipper. Transporters who respond quickly to a listing are more likely to win a shipment. 

  • 56% of shipments that are booked receive an intro message within an hour of being posted. 80% are booked within the first day.
  • Make sure that you personalize the template to fit the specifics of the bid. Adding a personal touch to your messaging puts the shipper at ease.
  • Like we mentioned, send the intro message before bidding. If you send a bid with no message, the customer will be comparing you with other drivers solely on price.

Make sure the message you send is about them and their pet or shipment — don’t make the message just about you.

That being said, you’ll want to include information about how your experience, communication style and trustworthiness will help them during the transport. The connection you make with a customer is much more important than simply having the lowest bid.

Crafting messages that catch the shipper's eye is part of a strong customer communication strategy.

Messaging that Catches the Customer’s Eye

After you reach out to a customer for the first time, if you see they’ve read your message but haven’t responded, follow up. You want to be persistent — many of the most successful transporters on CitizenShipper message the shipper up to three times before booking.

Following Up

You can initiate the follow-up conversation with questions about the shipment. Here are a few great examples:

  • How old is your pet?
  • Does your pet have any special diet requirements?
  • Do you have your pet’s latest vaccination and health records?
  • Are you aware if your pet suffers from motion sickness?
  • Do you have a budget for this transport and how soon do you need it done?
  • Does your pet have any favorite food or toy you could supply me with to make this trip easier for him/her?

Pro Tip #3 

While you want to keep your intro message concise and to the point, remember to be personable, positive and friendly. Avoid one-word answers, as they seem robotic and cold. Remember, the shipper is probably anxious about entrusting a stranger with a pet or valuable item — acknowledging this reality and reassuring them can go a long way towards winning the bid.

Pro Tip #4

Since all drivers come off to customers as complete strangers, those that do emerge as victorious are the ones that can create the closest bond. And to do that on our website, there are many ways, and we will just list two for future inspiration:

1. If you see that a pickup is posted in a city you’ve been to, mention a landmark that you know will be familiar to the customer (i.e. “I see this pickup is in Canton, OH, I once passed through it there and it had the best burger place right by the Courthouse in Downtown.”).

2. If you’ve owned the dog breed listed on the shipping request or transported it in the past, make sure to outline that in your messages, and use a “breed specific” touch to showcase that you know what you’re talking about (i.e. “How old is your German Shepherd? Mine just got done with shedding last month (hopefully), they do lose a ton of hair, don’t they?”).

This is what we call “going from being an online stranger, to next door neighbor” by simply being relatable to the customer either through a common landmark, dog breed or anything else. So whatever you feel will help you achieve this “mindset switch” in the customers point of view, use it as not too many drivers are. And remember, getting hired on CitizenShipper is all about building trust.     

Conclusion

You’re ready to win big on CitizenShipper now that you know the importance of an excellent profile and personalized communication to win bids. Once you have a few shipments under your belt, you’ll be ready to start stacking shipments and building routes to maximize profits.

Many drivers on CitizenShipper use these tools and have achieved successful self-employment. While it may take some time to win your first shipment, following the advice laid out in our How To Win library, attending free webinars and 1:1 calls and reading up in the Help Center and Teachable courses will have you on the road to success in no time.

If you’re ready to start a new chapter in your career and enjoy the benefits of self-employment, build a standout profile, submit bids and start winning shipments on CitizenShipper today!

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Published by Matt Matasci

Content Writer at CitizenShipper

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