First, a story about my pants 

“I’m not sure. I feel like they make me look like our plumber,” I said. That wasn’t a dig on our plumber at all. Rather, the navy Dickies pants I was staring at in the mirror not only applied a boxy shape, but were clearly a couple of inches too big. 

“Well, what do you want to do, Ian?” My wife responded. “You’ve been talking a big game about these pants making a comeback.”

It’s true. We were at dinner with some friends on Saturday, and I went on a rant about getting back in touch with my teenage fashion tendencies. Too late to go back on my word, and with a party coming up where, of course, I vowed I would wear them for those doubting I would actually rock Dickies again, I found myself in a bind. With a four-day countdown and the current pair clearly still looking silly, I was about to eat my own words. Defeated, I opened my laptop and started going through the motions to return the pair of pants through Amazon. 

To my surprise, Amazon had an “item did not fit” option. Further surprised, they asked if I knew what size I wanted, and if I needed them to be shipped immediately. Of course! Expecting the next step to require some form of confirmation of my return of the fit pants that still burned an embarrassing image in my head, I was elated at what popped up next:

“Your order has been shipped. Estimated delivery: 2 days.” 

No return of the ill-fitting pants needed, no administrative processing time, no erratic checking of email confirmation emails documenting the supply chain process. Just a simple anticipation of my needs executed flawlessly. 

Next, a paradigm shift

The paradigm of customer support and customer experience has evolved from companies waiting to field our questions or requests to anticipating our needs and acting. Simply put, we now expect businesses to be proactive as opposed to reactive. With that said,  it should be no surprise that Amazon, who clearly embraces this approach, has set the standards in e-commerce and has built a legendary brand combining customer experience and product. With sub-brands such as Zappos who also embrace and live this approach, it’s not far fetched to see how they achieve 75% repeat business, treating every customer interaction as an opportunity to connect and further the relationship. For a bit more context, Amazon Prime launched in 2005 and the program garnered over 100 million members around the world by April 2018.  Although this is likely not new information to anyone, I find it strange we do not hear about companies outside of e-commerce embracing the ethos of what Amazon has done. 

Take the waste and recycling industry. Companies from scrap metal recyclers to solid waste pickup companies practically all consider customer service to be a core differentiator. However, these companies rely on reactive customer service practices. Further, the way they execute on customer service is predicated on the idea of picking up phone calls day or night; making sure no call goes unanswered, and trying to react in a friendly and timely manner. 

At first, I found this refreshing. I love being able to talk to another human, connecting and voicing what’s really going on. But the waste and recycling industry isn’t as simple as returning an ill-fitting pair of pants. It’s quite the opposite actually; building rapport only does so much for a customer when it comes to value. What waste generators and businesses who use 3rd party haulers want is a solution that’s inadvertently influenced by the positive experience they’ve had with other products and services in their consumer lives. The Amazon customer experience is now a data point people compare things to, even if their offerings are nowhere near each other. 

How to evolve customer service in waste & recycling 

So, how can waste and recycling haulers keep up with our evolving expectation of customer experience? It’s likely easier than you think. Three major actions need to take place:

  1. Make yourself and your team easily available. This is more than just leaving a contact number on your website (41% of companies currently do not make this information visible). It means being available across multiple communication channels, such as phone, email and social media. By letting customers get in touch with you in the channel of their choice, you can serve them more effectively and in their comfort zone.
  2. Help customers to help themselves. Your customers are smart and capable. Create processes and workflows that allow for them to take action when they need something. Need a pickup scheduled? Schedule it yourself online or through text. Have a question that can be answered quickly? Create an FAQ section on your website or alerting your customers of existing issues that they can troubleshoot through a step by step guide.
  3. Use data to think about what your customers really want. We live in a time where collecting and using data is not a daunting task. Connecting the immense amount of data you have with customer decisions and actions will show you where you can start being proactive and start anticipating your customer’s needs. 

At Compology, we help waste companies cut costs and grow their business through data and insights associated with their containers. By providing a suite of tools driven by a camera and software powered by artificial intelligence (AI), we arm haulers with the ability to turn their containers 30% faster and grow the relationship they have with their customers–and a real way to provide proactive customer service. 

In case you were worried, those pants ended up arriving on time, and they fit great. I was the talk of the night–the only person in a crowded party at the center of one of the most innovative tech hubs on the planet wearing Dickies and raving about the importance of being proactive to your customers.

Written By

Ian Harriman, Account Executive at Compology


We have flexible pricing, installation, and support packages to meet your container monitoring needs.