We all know it’s cheaper to keep customers than to get new ones. But that does not mean it’s an easy task. Customers have many options and despite the costs of switching, they will often switch for better service, higher value, added services, and overall support that helps them achieve their goals. Customer loyalty for both business-tobusiness and business-to-consumers entities is changing. It’s not just about redeeming points, handing out coupons, or sending birthday emails anymore.
Waste customers are savvy and know they deserve a high level of service, attention, discretion, and respect from their trash guys. The following pages describe the bare minimum they demand but let’s take it a step further. Consider the loyalty you earn when your trash collector goes the extra mile and provides a kind service when it’s needed most. Taking the empty can back to the house for a cancer patient or tooting the horn to make a child laugh also go a long way toward customer satisfaction.
Here are some insights that are helping businesses across industries keep up with customer demands and secure loyalty at the same time.
Technology has created a world that demands instant gratification. When customers don’t get quick answers to questions or support for problems with their service, satisfaction goes out the window and often so does their loyalty, making them ripe for looking at your competitor for better service.
For roll-off and other waste hauling companies, fast, actionable response is key to competing, especially for construction customers and contractors. Yet the challenge of labor shortages and overlapping commitments makes this difficult at best. Let’s look at some low-cost options to improve your response time and your customer’s satisfaction.
1. Live Phone Service:
When customers talk about your company, do they say, “I can’t ever get them on the phone”? Make it a policy to have all calls answered by the third ring. When everyone in your company (from the CEO to the janitor) is prepared to pick up the phone and say, “thank you for calling…” and take a message, your customers can feel valued — especially when the call is returned by a qualified representative within a set amount of time.
2. Live Chat:
Many web platforms and CRM systems provide live chat interfaces for your website; take advantage of it. You can provide fast, high-quality support that’s convenient for everyone. Because the issue is stated up front, each question or issue can get immediate attention — a real-time benefit your customers expect from their suppliers. Question answered, problem solved. Everyone’s happy and everyone moves on with their day. Emails just can’t provide this level of satisfaction.
3. Self-Service Tools:
Sometimes customers don’t want to or don’t have the time to wait for someone else to update an order or place a new one. For those of us who like doing things ourselves, it’s important to have a self-service experience that allows access to our account so customers can update it in real time without having to get on the phone with someone. With specialized apps like Starlight’s Contractor App, contractors can place orders 24/7, attach pictures for roll-off placement, manage their account info, store multiple addresses and much more, including live chat when needed. Another upside is that self-service tools free up your people to provide deeper, more personal assistance to those who call in.
4. Operational Insights:
It’s no surprise that accessing your operational data at anytime is key to managing any business properly. Do you use a software that lets you make instant adjustments in order to increase or preserve profit margins? Can you can see in real time
• which customers generate profits / break even / cause losses?
• which trucks produce the most ROI for time on the road and fuel used?
• which drivers complete routes efficiently and which could/should improve?
Simple and instant access to your data to monitor performance and profitability across all business units and lines of service is critical to win the fight for current competitiveness and future growth.
Change doesn’t come easily and it’s not always within many people’s comfort zones. Any company asking another company to change what they’ve always done or what they always do is asking people to make an emotional leap. Not always easy. The best way to help them is to create a decision process and environment that replaces fear with confidence. Retailers do this with generous return policies, VIP customer discounts, invitation-only sales, and so on. Business suppliers do this with added values like user events, partnership referrals, pricing incentives, and contracts with terms that favor customers.
Customer-centric practices highlight your customers’ successes. Everyone likes being noticed. Recognizing customers through simple things like case studies, customer features on websites or in newsletters go over well in a big way. You might also consider sending physical awards like a small crystal obelisk to customers meeting requirements for joint community service, years of loyalty, feedback provided, and so on. Have fun setting recognition parameters and awarding items they can display in their lobbies.
The length of your contracts can make a difference in how your customers perceive you. For many, it’s uncomfortable signing long-term contracts for a service or brand they have not yet experienced. This can add more fear than comfort when making a long-term decision. For haulers, offering discounts in return for multi-year contracts might hinder vs help what they think of you if the value of the discount does not outweigh the perceived risk of the commitment required.
A good example of favorable contracts can be the terms and conditions in your business agreements. Do you allow people to cancel within 24 hours of your service date? And do you have terms that align with business cycles in your industry?
Tools That Build Your Brand Value
Perhaps the best way to add value is to provide tools customers can’t get elsewhere. When it comes to the size of a roll off or dumpster, there is not a lot to differentiate. However, tools that help customers work more efficiently and elevate their own profitability can make that a critical difference. One of the ways Starlight does this is with our previously mentioned exclusive Contractor App for contractors. With the app, your customers can instantly review accounts, place orders, adjust orders, make payments, run live reports, and much more from their mobile phones. With direct access to their account and available inventory, there is no waiting to connect to a customer service rep, which creates instant results and efficiency for your customers in an instantly changing world.
Not sure what your customer-satisfaction rating is? You can track it with simple polls you can create and include in your email signatures, on your website, and so on. This is often provided as part of a CRM and is a good tool for creating or improving your company scorecard because your customers can give usable feedback. The data will populate into spreadsheets and can be graphed to see where you are winning and losing customer loyalty.
Another feedback method that builds brand value is tools that allow your customers to rate your performance quickly instead of taking a long survey. As simple as this seems, giving customers a quick and direct method to score your performance on a regular basis can go a long way for customer loyalty. We all like to know our opinion matters, but we don’t like to take the time to give it. If you offer something as simple as a “Rate Our Performance Today” button/poll on your website, in your email signature, on your customer dashboard, and even with your digital invoices, customers can score you as easily as choosing a 1 to 6 rating (see the chart as an example). This will help you see fluctuations in customer support or operations and see which customers seem happy and which do not – giving you the opportunity to save an account.
Many CRM systems have simple polls you can create that might be a good tool for creating your company scorecard. The data will populate into spreadsheets and can be graphed to see where you are winning and losing customer loyalty.
In addition to the above tools, look for partnership opportunities that will widen your reach and visibility. Partnering with brands that customers recognize helps secure loyalty because that partnership provides a sense of endorsement by another brand they respect. A great example of a winning partnership is the one between WIN Waste and Gillett Stadium, home to the New England Patriots. WIN Waste collects post-recyclable waste from each home game and recycles it in ways that build renewable energy. The
media stories about the impact of this partnership are far more valuable and less expensive than any paid
form of advertising available.