Waste management, especially customer service, has traditionally been a phone-centric business, but this is changing as customers want to do more online. They want choices they can make on their own and quickly, and some companies are responding by upgrading their websites with add-ons to meet them where they are. Waste management operations that have figured out how to do it effectively learn more about what their customers want; find easier ways to get it to them; and facilitate the work of customer service representatives.
Waste Connections shares the story of transforming its websites from a stagnant sales platform into a dynamic, multi-function platform. The team recounts what happened to decide how to do it; and how new digital features work from a business perspective.
A few years ago, the company’s websites — it has more than 200 to support its brands and facilities — contained basic recycling information, a list of services and numbers to call.
The first adjustments to build on this simple framework came after staff started looking into search engine optimization (SEO).
“Just by tweaking the content based on what we learned from SEO results, we immediately saw positive results as we were getting customers what they were looking for quickly. That’s when we started looking at this what these websites could do and how they could benefit us. We decided to build a new, faster platform with a lot more functionality,” says Eric Hansen, Chief Information Officer, Waste Connections.
In three months, 230 sites were converted to allow users to make decisions online, with the options they clicked on most often placed at the top of the homepage: Pay My Bill; Pick-up schedule; Missed pickup; Broken container; and I’m moving.
One of the first novelties is Click2Order (C2O).
“We launched C2O a year and a half ago, and it’s taking off. We have rolled it out to 50 districts and are rolling it out to more. Customers agree to terms and conditions; enter their credit card number; and they had the service up and running in about two minutes,” says Hansen.
The phone calls that take the longest are calls from new customers.
“There are 57 data points to configure that you as a customer service representative need to master. It takes 8-15 minutes to complete the transaction, after a customer waits on hold. But now they can access the website and choose from a range of onsite services,” says Hansen.
For customer service reps, digitizing the process translates to about 90-95% less data entry time, he estimates, because most of the information they were using to enter is already in the system. .
The Pay My Bill form, which is the most popular, offers three ways to pay from the home screen. This is one of many online forms.
“Each has been designed to allow users to identify exactly what they want to tell us. For example, if it’s a missed pickup they want to report, this form has specific options such as the missed waste stream and whether or not they placed it curbside. This allows for faster decisions and faster service response,” says Tracy Reynolds, web and digital media manager at Waste Connections.
Forms have built-in integration. So when a customer service representative receives a request, they are directly linked to the customer’s account, speeding up any necessary process.
An alternative to online forms is a chatbot, which answers basic questions like what should I do if I have a broken container or if I’m moving.
The forms and the chatbot have collectively made a big difference, especially in letting people know when to put their containers on the curb, especially around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
“Before making the transition, we had a small chatbot and for the first year after the holidays, we answered this question [about pick up] 7,000 times,” Hansen says.
The following year, they modified the chatbot, making it bigger and putting a red banner above the holiday calendar..
“We answered this question online 75,000 times during the second holiday season, which helped avoid missed pickups and saved a lot of time,” he says.
But Trina, as it’s called, has limitations, so the site also includes live agent messaging.
“The combination of these two features has been successful in that Trina has a knowledge base, she is still a robot and cannot be as dynamic as a person. So if and when she lacks answers, we bring in the live agent,” says Brianna Langley, Customer Experience Specialist at Waste Connections.
Gaining insights from customers to be able to improve their experience – one of Langley’s core functions – involved informed experimentation.
“For example, we learned by using heatmaps (software to track where people go on a page and what they click on the most) that customers rarely scroll beyond the first five or six inches on any given page. So it’s important to place buttons to initiate the action we want them to take above the crease at the top of the page,” she says.
The platform was designed with both customers and employees in mind.
“Giving customers the option of self-service really streamlines employee workloads while giving customers more than one way to solve their problems or answer their questions,” says Langley.
Reduced call volumes and wait times and streamlined communications were the main benefits, but the ability to measure online interactions was a plus.
“Knowing what customers want and where they are going helps guide future decisions about deploying digital strategies to improve the customer experience. We can really see what works and what doesn’t,” she says.
Waste Connections will be adding recycling videos and has made a number of design updates, primarily to the look and feel of the website.
“It would be the images, the layout and above all improving the navigation to make it as user-friendly as possible. It’s important to consider design updates every few years to keep it up to date and current, both on desktop and mobile devices,” says Reynolds.
Hansen confers. “Like trucks, websites age. You have to keep them tuned and running strong. There is no finish line. You need to constantly look at what customers want next to make it better for them and for your employees. »