Increased Customer Service: "Please Hold"

Ever-changing regulations, most waste haulers will attest, can leave them in the unenviable position of continually explaining changes in service to their customers. Worse yet, haulers can be left holding the bag on tons of unmarketable waste.

The average hold time reportedly is 30 seconds. If a business receives 100 calls per day, the result is more than 200 hours of hold time per year. Haulers can use this time to communicate with callers and, at the same time, reduce caller frustration and hang-ups.

Typical month-to-month messages include information on local and state regulations, guidelines to help cut back contaminants in recyclables, service tips and statistics to reenforce participation in recycling programs. These messages also can inform callers of new policies and programs, schedule changes and seasonal tips.

When the Blizzard of '96 struck the East Coast, for example, many waste haulers used messages to inform callers about changes in residential pickup schedules and to remind customers to keep commercial containers clear of ice and snow. Some also suggested avoiding the use of white trash bags that could be lost in the snow. When the snow stopped and regular service resumed, many haulers used the messages to thank customers for their patience during the storm.

Haulers also can use messages to illustrate the effectiveness of recycling programs. Often, people don't see the direct relationship between their recycling efforts and the positive end results. When callers hear that they could help save 500,000 trees per week simply by recycling Sunday newspapers, they begin to get excited about recycling programs.

In addition, messages on-hold can positively affect a waste company's bottom line. When callers learn the facts about acceptable recyclables, contamination is reduced, the recyclables' marketability increases and the recycling programs' overall efficiency improves.

When selecting a vendor for on-hold messages, evaluate the company's staff. Do they stay current on the waste news and industry information? Be sure their writers can regularly provide you with clear, informative messages. Other important factors include waste industry experience, reliable service, production quality and technical support.

Last but not least, make sure the music used on your productions is fully licensed. Playing the radio or unlicensed music on your phone system is illegal and substantial fines can result. Include fully licensed music in the written contract with your on-hold vendor.