Case Study: Reconomy
Recycling with a human approach
Reconomy is one of the UK’s leading providers of outsourced recycling and resource management services. Based in Telford, Shropshire, it helps thousands of UK businesses manage approximately three million tonnes of waste every year.
Supported by a network of over 1,000 supply chain partners, Reconomy’s nationwide service works with businesses of all sizes, from SMEs up to large blue-chips, to help manage their waste in a responsible, sustainable and cost-effective way.
The company employs over 500 people, and has grown rapidly, acquiring three businesses in the last 18 months as it seeks to increase its turnover from £118m in 2016 to £200 million by 2020.
Maintaining the human connection while exploiting data
Reconomy is facing a dilemma many ambitious businesses experience – how to keep its human approach intact while remaining efficient as it grows from being a small to a mid-sized operation.
Being able to provide a high level of customer service has always been critical to the business, said Andrew Evers, Head of IT at Reconomy. “We have always avoided being a ‘computer says no’ type business. Our customers come to us, and we’ve been able to grow, because we are always willing to look for the right solution for them; whether it’s help with a compliance matter or providing wait and load services when they can’t secure a permit for a skip.”
Being in the recycling and resource management services means a significant level of regulation that Reconomy needs to comply with. As the sector undergoes its own digital transformation, there is increased demand on all sides for accurate data as customers look for ways in which to improve and optimise their own operations and resource consumption. “We need to be able to capture data, make sure it is accurate and do it fast. Our customers now expect it as standard.”
Automating processes is one way that Reconomy has been able to increase both the volume and accuracy of the data it produces, but it does so mindful of the need to maintain the human element that has helped it get where it is today. “We can’t become a corporate monster. There’s a lot of situations, such as flooding, site inspections, special access, where you simply can’t automate communication – you need to be able to have a conversation and make decisions based on that. So, when we do automate we do it on a case-by-case basis. Yet at the same time we need to be able to get the data and feed it into the business.”
Capturing meaningful data to enhance customer service
One area that Reconomy historically struggled to capture meaningful data was customer service. Its commitment to keeping the human element alive meant that it relied heavily on contact centre agents talking to customers on the phone. “Trying to measure customer service has always been more of a challenge than measuring something like financial performance. It’s less tangible and can mean different things to different people. Net Promoter Scores help, but without contextual data it can only tell you so much. Our focus on having people that our customers could speak to meant that we hadn’t the ability to track customer service issues in the same way as if we relied on chatbots or contact forms,” explained Evers.
With that in mind, Reconomy chose Natterbox after an extensive search. “We looked at a range of voice solutions, from competing products that were far too expensive, to connected services which didn’t offer the depth of data we were looking for. In the end, Natterbox impressed us with a combination of being cost effective, having the ability to extract and integrate data, and having a clear roadmap of what it would be working on and how it could enhance what we were looking for.”
Natterbox’s ability to integrate voice with CRM gave Reconomy the overview of the complete customer story it was looking for. “We wanted something that would empower our front-line staff to resolve issues on a first-call basis. We could only do that by giving them a complete overview of that customer, from every booking they’ve made with us to every issue they’ve had. Natterbox gives us that whole picture, which means we can give our contact centre teams the knowledge they need to help customers quickly.”
While data quality has always been key, having a system in place that can grow with the business is also important. “Natterbox’s system means that as we expand, as we acquire new businesses and employ more staff, we can integrate them quickly without losing that human touch. Voice is going to be a critical part of our business, and the foundation of our ability to differentiate ourselves by not turning into a faceless entity, for many years to come. Automation and digitalisation are great for improving processes and making our operations more efficient, but not at the cost of sacrificing customer satisfaction.”
Finding the right balance of efficiency and humanity for the future
Evers believes finding that balance will be a major factor in Reconomy’s continued success. “All growing businesses face that point where they start to lose their small company feel, and a key indicator of that is when customers no longer feel like they’re getting a personal level of service. There’s no silver bullet – as an operation we need to find a balance between service and efficiency, and it’s a constant juggling act. However, having systems like Natterbox, which are fusing the demand for efficiency with a personable approach, means that we can have absolute visibility of data to make decisions, while being slicker in how we operate, without stopping customers from talking to us.”
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