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Suzi Shopper: Going Green? Not So Much

Suzi Shopper: Thoughts on business from a consumer’s perspective

I live in a neighborhood that provides trash and recycling curbside pickup, and I personally have had this service provided to me at four of the last five places I’ve lived. In fact, I’ve been recycling since before it was cool – separating using various bins in my tiny apartment kitchen way back in 1993, driving to three different places to recycle (I recycle everything from Styrofoam to the cores of my toilet paper and paper towel rolls). I even started recycling programs at offices I’ve worked at over the years, personally hauling tons of paper to the recycle center. Yeah, I’m proud to say I’m pretty darn green.

The thing that bothers me about my current provider is that they don’t seem to get the point of recycling. Dedicated recyclers subscribe to the principle of reducing and reusing as well. However, this company has provided me with two bins – one little tiny one for recycling, and one great big one (with wheels) that is larger than an average-sized adult for the trash. While this configuration might be typical, what is not is that the company picks up trash twice a week, but only picks up recycling once a week. They also do a weekly Saturday pick up of yard waste. I don’t know about you, but I produce about the same amount of recycling as I do trash, and I produce very little yard waste (Did I mention I’m a composter, too? Based on my experience, composting isn’t as uncommon as it used to be…but I digress…).

Why doesn’t this company REALLY “go green” by reducing the number of trucks it sends to my neighborhood every week? Why doesn’t it assess the volume of recycling and the volume of trash to determine if it makes sense to offer two large bins and drop the pick up to once a week?

So…I’ll bet you’re wondering what this blog has to do with you as retailers. I’m getting there. In the case of my garbage/recycling pickup provider, I’d like them to provide an easy way for me and their other customers to provide our feedback—an offer to share our thoughts on how they’re doing. For example, they have an opportunity every quarter when they send out invoices to gather information on what their customers think. I’m sure there are other ways they could get our feedback as well.

Two questions come to mind for those of you selling directly to consumers:

  1. How are you gathering feedback from your clients? I hope it involves multiple channels!
  2. What’s your process for taking this valuable feedback and using it to shape the future face of your company, to change your business as your customer base changes, and to meet ever-changing demands, regulations, or other conditions?

If you’re not asking how you’re doing and how you can make the customer’s experience better, how do you know if you’re making your customers happy?