Like most private waste haulers, in 2018 Rogue Disposal and Recycling found itself in a difficult situation as drastic changes swept the international recycling industry and impacted every aspect of the business.
As China’s National Sword program placed new restrictions on acceptable materials, southern Oregon-based Rogue recognized that fundamental, necessary, market-driven changes to its recycling program and related communications could be viewed as a crisis or an opportunity.
Rogue — an 81-year-old family-owned company often recognized for innovation in the industry – chose the lens of opportunity.
They started by speaking out.
“We were the first to report that we were affected by these changes, and we were met with skepticism. People did not believe there was a problem. They would say, ‘Well, my brother lives in Seattle, and they can recycle this,’ or ‘My kids live in San Francisco, and they can recycle dirty socks. Why is there a problem here?’” So says Laura Leebrick, Governmental Affairs Manager for Rogue.
By addressing the proverbial elephant in the room, Rogue sought to maintain earned trust in its brand – and in some ways, in recycling itself.
The company had taken the first step in a process that staff came to regard as “rethinking recycling,” which would lead them on an expedition to improve recycling education, communications, operations – while enhancing the overall customer experience.
While industry changes brought special attention to acceptable materials, Rogue recognized that recyclers everywhere had long struggled to understand the rules of “what goes where.”
“As the list for eligible materials for curbside commingled programs has grown over the last decade, customers have reported that they are increasingly confused,” says Leebrick.
To solve the problem once and for all, Rogue selected ReCollect’s Waste Wizard, which provides customers up-to-the-minute disposal directions at the touch of a button or screen.
“The Waste Wizard is brilliant. Having the information, making it easy for people to ask questions about how to deal with things in their households or businesses, is really helpful. It takes the guesswork out,” says Leebrick.
“Tools that help us be more flexible in how we respond to changes in the marketplace around recycling — and communicate those changes to customers — (are) vitally important. Material streams are always changing, and they will continue to change,” she says.
With a laser focus on the communication that begets customer experience, Rogue was on a roll. They decided to revamp the company’s service notifications and disruption alerts, too.
In the past, Rogue had let customers know about delays on its homepage and via phone recordings and e-mails, “but the customers weren’t always getting the information,” says Holly Deemer, Rogue’s Customer Service Supervisor.
The Need To Educate Early
“We needed a way to get the information to the customer before they started calling us with questions about it,” Deemer says.
“Now, we can target a specific audience to minimize too much unnecessary communication, says Deemer, who notes an added benefit: “Phone calls generate our work, but the reps have other things they are all responsible for, too. A reduction in phone calls helps their other responsibilities.”
As the company updated it’s messaging and delivery, it also created a new website. Rogue integrated every part of its new communication platform for optimal branding and customer experience.
Branding “was so crucial for us as a company. Everything we create, everything our customers see, everything we send to our customers, has to have that brand cohesiveness. It shows that we care,” says Holly Roberts, Marketing and Brand Manager for Rogue.
The Partnership With ReCollect
While ReCollect partners with Rogue to customize every feature to match its own brand, the solution also helps provide additional recycling education and outreach to existing customers who must comply with the Opportunity to Recycle Act.
“It’s incredibly helpful in helping municipalities meet their requirements,” says Leebrick. “Any tool we employ that can help us communicate with these customers is really useful.”