Customer Service in the Garbage Industry, Part 1

When you have had your garbage or recycling cart not emptied completely or picked up at all, does it upset you abnormally?  Think about that for a second. If so, unless it happens often,  why does that bother you so much? Then, if you call in to the office, does that frustration carry over to the customer service rep?

For some reason, we find in the garbage industry that people tend to be more frustrated or upset when they call our office; and that anger doesn’t always seem fit the crime. In other words, if you’re can was missed and you were not sure why but when you call into the office and you are yelling at the person on the other end of the phone, how does that work?

Now, in other businesses they get yelled at too but it just seems that in garbage industry, it is greater. We have made our share of mistakes. Our drivers have had times where cans are only half-emptied or actually missed altogether. That is not good service but we will do all in our power to solve it right away. Yet, the customer service rep did not miss the can but they get the brunt of the frustration. What are we missing?

My theory is that people don’t always get treated right by companies, so they feel if they do not yell or get upset, nothing will be done for them. That is not how it works for us. We aim to remedy all complaints, as we hate making those mistakes. So, our customer service crew is there to help solve a problem that they did not create.

So, why are we upset at them again?

I understand that we get upset. But to only know half of the story for why something went wrong with your can, and then to take it out on a person who did not actually make the mistake, could give us pause. I am not trying to lecture anyone but just want us all to be mindful – when we make these calls remember that the person on the other end of phone is there to help us by solving our problem. So, why take our frustration out on them?

Our office has just had to deal with this behavior a lot more lately and I just want to remind us all that there are real people on the other end of the phone to help us. They most likely did not cause our problem, so let’s focus our energy on solving the problem and not just venting our frustration. We can explain our problem, hear them out and then go from there. These reps. are there to help walk alongside you as they work to solve your problem, if only you give them the chance.


Author: Damon Shea

Currently, I operate a waste hauling and recycling company in Northeastern California and I am also working through an eMBA program. Per one of my courses we are emerging ourselves into social media and that is my main purpose behind blogging and all of the other social avenues that I am involved with. My blog will focus on the waste & recycling industry and any subject matter within. Born into the waste hauling business, I have been playing in and around garbage containers since a child and am not afraid to haul away what you throw out. As a leader/manager, I have found that it is the people who do the work and not the equipment, so I have focused on understanding all peoples, especially my team. About me personally, I am of Italian/Irish decent, Roman Catholic. I am the youngest of three children and am now married with a beautiful strong wife and two awesome girls. Through my job, I am a member of Rotary International and I also sit on the board of our local Chamber of Commerce. We are heavily involved with building up the community that we serve and will do all in power to make garbage and recycling an easy process. Together we can explore the myths and realities of the waste & recycling industry and perhaps still make the world a better place.