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Customer Service and Satisfaction

We think of ourselves as a customer-centric company continually seeking to improve the customer experience and our ability to manage reliable, excellent service. Today’s customers expect more in exchange for their loyalty. That’s why in 2019, we recommitted to holding ourselves to a higher standard, every day.

As a result, we have taken a fresh approach to evolving our customer experience strategy and building a comprehensive understanding of our customers. It is our mission to be a partner for environmental services and solutions whose people go above and beyond to serve and solve every challenge the right way. This idea sets the standard for our fundamental commitments and core values and guides our daily actions and decisions—and will ultimately enable Waste Management to reinforce our position as a purpose-driven brand. There are three critical elements that we have identified to help us place our customers at the center of all that we do:

Gather (voice of customer), Engage (our people), Transform (process improvements)

Gather

the voice of our customers, beginning with a redesign of our customer satisfaction survey. Read more about our survey design and results below.

Engage

every Waste Management team member in a culture of customer advocacy by providing a modern customer experience platform that equips our employees with real-time feedback from our customers, enabling us to put customer insights into action.

Transform

the way we make decisions by focusing on each step in the customer’s journey and implementing changes that improve their experience.

Gauging Our Progress

Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores

Since 2012, Waste Management’s customer satisfaction survey, or CSAT, has tracked the average score of all customers on responses to three key questions about Waste Management:

  • Overall experience
  • Likelihood of continuing to do business
  • Likelihood of recommending Waste Management

We have tracked the percentage of our “loyal” customers and those that were “at risk,” as well as satisfaction with focus areas like operations, customer service, account management, communications, problem incidence and resolution, and our overall brand. According to CSAT results, customer loyalty has improved over the past five years.

As part of our commitment to hold ourselves to a higher standard of service excellence, we enhanced our customer survey program in 2019. A new journey-based approach makes it easier for customers to share feedback, focusing not only on pickups at customer sites, but also other points in the customer journey where Waste Management can differentiate ourselves. This includes brand awareness, social impact, ease of setting up service, online experience, customer service, collection service, invoicing and pricing. A shorter, mobile-friendly survey provides targeted insights, allowing us to take targeted action.

Enterprise NPS
(Net Promoter Score)

Bar chart showing Waste Management's quarterly Enterprise Net Promoter Score from the second quarter of 2019 through the first quarter of 2020

We send these surveys to customers in all major lines of business within Waste Management who receive solid waste and recycling service. Each month, a randomly selected group of commercial, residential, roll-off, and manufacturing and industrial customers receive surveys. We’ve seen a 50 percent increase in response rates compared to the previous version of our survey, and we believe that this is a promising sign of information to come that will help us better understand our customers and their needs.

In 2019, Waste Management also began measuring Net Promoter Scores (NPS). NPS poses a simple question: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” This enterprise-level metric measures customers’ overall sentiment about a brand versus their perception of a single transaction and is used as a benchmark to evaluate and improve customer loyalty. NPS has been widely adopted by more than two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies. This metric is an essential step for Waste Management to continue to show our public commitment to customer satisfaction.

Through these new approaches to gathering feedback, we have learned that our customers value and expect partnership, reliability and trustworthiness. We are acting on these components to strengthen our customer experience and brand through improved technology, enhanced communications and continuous process improvement.

While we continue to track both CSAT and NPS, we ultimately plan to transition to NPS as our measure of customer satisfaction. The change from measuring customer sentiment with the CSAT index to NPS means that we are in a rebuilding phase to track long-term progress. Since tracking NPS, Waste Management has shown steady improvement each quarter. Our full-year goal for 2020 is to achieve an NPS of 37. In 2020, we saw a significant spike in NPS, which we believe was a result of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Q1 and Q2.

% Satisfied

Bar chart showing Waste Management's percentage of satisfied customers from 2015 through 2019

The overall satisfaction rating includes the previously used CSAT and new NPS, allowing us to track satisfaction from 2015 through 2019.

Post-Contact Survey (PCS)

Waste Management gathers feedback from customers following interactions with our customer service team, whether customers contacted us by phone, email or online chat. Every customer service agent receives five to 10 surveys per month, and customer insights are used to coach and develop employees and to evaluate and improve our internal processes.

The post-contact survey evolved in 2019 to provide an improved customer experience. The mobile-friendly survey was simplified and shifted to a five-point rating scale. As a result, new performance targets and baseline data have been established and will be tracked. Our cross-channel goal for PCS is 4.2.

Post-Contact Survey, All Channels

Bar chart showing Waste Management's average quarterly feedback rating for post-contact surveys (all channels) for each quarter in 2019

Phone Quality Surveys

Waste Management also monitors the quality of our calls, including post-call surveys for commercial customers and calls conducted by our third-party auditor, BPA. Results show consistent improvement in customer satisfaction for our national account customers, an important segment of our customer base and among our most sophisticated and demanding customers:

Post-Call Survey

Bar chart showing Waste Management's yearly average post-call survey results from 2015 to 2019

Third-Party Quality Audits

Bar chart showing Waste Management's yearly average third-party quality Audit results from 2015 to 2019

Reliability Surveys

An important aspect of customer satisfaction is assurance that service will be reliable. In 2019, our “Customer Experience Quality of Service” scores for our collection services were:

  • Commercial — 99.1%
  • Roll-off — 98.1%
  • Residential — 99.8%

We firmly believe that better performance management leads to better overall performance, which ultimately leads to a more sustainable business model. In 2017, we deployed a sales performance methodology called Sales Service Delivery Optimization (SDO) that created a standardized approach to sales performance throughout our sales organization. Sales SDO was mirrored after a similar program created in our operations department and was further refined by fleet and maintenance teams. This holistic approach to performance standards has given us a better approach by which to monitor our routines and build a sustainable business model connecting our operations and sales departments.

Building Strong Customer Relationships

Beyond regular surveys, we use tools to manage relationships with our customers on an ongoing basis. We deployed Salesforce, our customer relationship management (CRM) tool, in 2010, and over the past decade, we have enhanced, improved and expanded the reach of this tool throughout our sales organization. For example, we use predictive analytics and proactive outreach to serve our customers’ needs more effectively by using the following tools:

  • The FOCUS Model predicts which customers are likely to defect and/or be unhappy with their current service received/value exchanged. FOCUS allows us to concentrate our time and attention on potential at-risk customers to ensure we remove roadblocks, solve any service issues and overcome any perceived challenges the customer has in order to get their service/value exchange back in alignment.
  • Our Relationship Health dashboard is used to track and manage the strength of the connections we have with our customers.
  • For our call center sales team specifically, our platform uses a sophisticated sales prioritization algorithm to rank and route customer calls (and/or dial out to prospects) that have the greatest current need from us.

Over the past year, we have also invested in a variety of self-service enhancements, allowing customers to engage with us through their channel of choice. Recent enhancements include:

  • Waste Management’s web-based Virtual Assistant provides interactive responses to 300+ frequently asked questions, including hot topics like pickup schedule, holiday schedule and the estimated time of arrival for service.
  • Improvements to the My Services platform on wm.com make it easier for our customers to learn about their services.
  • A new Online Buying Experience for our Commercial and Roll-off customers provides a one-stop shopping solution.
  • Expanded online Help Content makes it quicker and easier for customers to find the information they need, when they need it. Content includes storm preparedness, container and bulk guidelines, “How To” videos and recycling best practices.
  • Enablement of Apple Pay provides an additional payment option for our customers’ convenience.
  • A refreshed Recycling Education Platform, including standardized recycling decals at the point of collection, helps our customers recycle right.

Communication is essential to our customers, and we have used their feedback to improve. We’re building customer relationships for the long term by making Waste Management easy to do business with and working to meet the needs of customers in each segment. For example:

Concierge Commercial Delivery Service

  • Delivery drivers have expanded their on-site customer engagement, answering questions and reviewing a delivery checklist to ensure the customer is satisfied with container placement and container condition.
  • Once delivery is complete, customers receive a container delivery notification, including an image of the container.
  • Cameras mounted on our Smart Trucks allow us to identify customer service opportunities and upgrades more easily than ever. Whereas drivers once had to get out of a truck, take a picture, upload it to a sales rep and follow up, agents can now be virtually there with our driver to validate service and quickly address exceptions. This allows us to be a proactive partner with customers and differentiates us from small and medium businesses.

Missed Service Communication

  • Service disruptions occur when containers are blocked, during inclement weather or when items in the container cannot be collected. We have automated communication of these incidents to improve awareness and speed of resolution.

Communication Preferences

  • When it comes to communications, customers want options. Through our online preferences center, customers can identify their channel of choice (voice, email or text) so they know they will always receive timely service updates.
  • Waste Management maintains active customer communications through social media channels. We post proactive messages to keep customers engaged and informed. We also respond to all posts that require assistance. Our relationship with the BBB provides customers another channel to reach us, and we have maintained our A+ rating for over five years.
Enterprise NPS
(Net Promoter Score)
Second Quarter 2019 29.73
Third Quarter 2019 35.3
Fourth Quarter 2019 36.52
First Quarter 2020 44.7
% Satisfied
2015 53.2
2016 54.2
2017 54.9
2018 55.3
2019 58.7

The overall satisfaction rating includes the previously used CSAT and new NPS, allowing us to track satisfaction from 2015 through 2019.

Post-Contact Survey All Channels
First Quarter 2019 4.4
Second Quarter 2019 4.3
Third Quarter 2019 4.3
Fourth Quarter 2019 4.4
Post-Call Survey
Goal 9.0 or greater
2015 8.9
2016 9.1
2017 9.1
2018 9.1
2019 9.0
Post-Call Survey
Goal 90% or greater
2015 87%
2016 90%
2017 93%
2018 92%
2019 89%