A tour of the floor at Waste Expo this year showed a clear trend in the variety of new technologies available to the waste industry.
With this influx of technology, the industry is faced with decisions of which ones fit within their strategic business plans and can be readily integrated into their current systems in order to help them achieve their organizational goals of:
- Increasing Revenues
- Developing Sustainability Focused Solutions
- Providing Tools to Make Sales Departments More Effective
- Controlling Operating Costs
The challenge is how to tie these initiatives together. Enevo was curious how these goals stacked in importance to the attendees of WasteExpo, so before the event we held a poll via an email campaign. The results came back with an interesting order:
The majority of our respondents stated they were looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of their sales departments. Interestingly, the sales departments (whether municipal or commercial) hold the key to achieving many of the other goals. Their ability to retain existing customers protects capital investments; their ability to acquire new customers increases revenues; and their ability to provide sustainability focused solutions to customers fuels the achievement of environmental goals.
Any number of sales books and articles will tell you that the key to sales success is to understand your customer. More recently, the concept of “Customer Obsession” has become popular and encourages companies to build a much deeper and richer understanding of customers’ needs in order to better serve them.
To get the perspective of our customers, the waste industry can look to the US Zero Waste Business Council. Having held their annual conference the week prior to Waste Expo, their focus is on the practical achievement of zero waste within North America’s leading environmental performers.
In pursuit of these zero waste goals, this group of businesses are actively engaged in changing their waste generation behavior. They are collaborating on ways to work with employees and suppliers to reduce overall landfill volumes, replace previously unrecyclable materials with recyclable materials, and innovating new ways to divert food and plant based materials for repurposing. This results in a constantly evolving composition and volume of their waste streams.
Amongst the panel discussions, there was a large focus on measuring the effects of these initiatives. The ability to create baselines of current waste generation volumes, set appropriate goals, and track performance improvement toward those goals is critical. Equally as important as the internal measurements performed by the businesses, communication with their service providers is critical for controlling costs and ensuring efficient configurations of services as their needs change.
During WasteExpo, MSW Management identified the clear theme of momentum toward an increased network of connected devices. By building a responsive environment in which the waste industry can more quickly evolve, we can better understand the environmental consequences of our waste generation. Along a similar theme, Mallory Szczepanski of Waste360 wrote of the role of big data within the waste industry. Citing the “Four V’s of Big Data” (Volume, Velocity, Variety, and Veracity), she also listed a fifth V, “Value.” This is the critical point that considerations of integrated technology revolve around – how do these resources turn into financial or environmental value? So how can we create customer obsession in this data driven world?
“In order to increase our revenue we have had to expand our service area which has caused our operation cost to increase do to added miles: cost of fuel, and repairs, with that we are finding it hard to keep our prices competitive. We also need to find a way the sales dept. can retain customers without giving deep discounts to keep the customer happy.” - Enevo Poll Respondent
Discussions like these highlight that the needs of our customers is evolving as are their requirements for clarity and data. Meeting customers’ needs for greater information on how their waste generation is impacting the environment as well as their bottom line creates a significant competitive advantage for waste management firms. Harnessing technology to support a culture of customer obsession within the waste industry will create a path to a successful future for everyone in the value chain.
Enevo is working with waste generators, consultants, and haulers to provide data and insights to enhance the conversations they can have with their customers. Automating reporting, baseline creation, and performance measurement is accelerated through the data and analytics provided by Enevo’s systems.
For haulers and waste consultants, this provides stronger connections that deepen relationships with customers, lowers operating costs, and provides new clarity and differentiation to increase customer acquisition.
For waste generators, it provides valuable insights in order to understand and change waste generation behavior to reduce overall volumes, increase landfill diversion rates, and communicate these results to their stakeholders.
This constant and reliable exchange of information is the foundation with which a new age of transparency and collaboration within the waste industry is being built. This new data driven approach enables us to work more closely and deeply with our customers than ever before. Data is key to building customer obsession in the waste business and done well, will ensure business goals are met and exceeded.