Customer Experience Research - Upcycling Company

Customer Experience Research for Upcycling Company


As a long-term project for my master's degree, I consulted for an upcycling company who collects branded waste from groups of people (users) in order for it to be recycled. The company had been collecting waste from its customers for a while, but did not have a clear picture of who the customers were, or what their experience was like. The goal of the project was thus to gain a better understanding of the customer and identify pain points within the customer experience.

Role/Team: research lead; four fellow consultants on the team

Timeline: 14 months

Research questions

  • What segments exist within the customer base?
  • What are the biggest hurdles within the customer journey?


Client accessibility: there were several changes of client personnel during the duration of our project, which created a few setbacks around communication and information availability.

Geographic limitations: because of budget restrictions, we could only conduct in-person interviews with local customers, which may not have been representative of the national customer base.










  • User interviews/shadowing
  • Personas
  • Survey

We chose to interview and shadow local users to get a clearer picture of the user journey as they went through the process of collecting and sending in materials to be recycled. From these interviews, we developed personas to give a sense of the user types. Based on these personas, we created a nationwide survey that was sent out to all customers. 

User Interviews/Shadowing

For user interviews, we met one-on-one with local collection site leaders to walk through the process of collecting materials, and to understand their challenges. We first interviewed them to learn more about their collection program, and relationship with the company. Then, we shadowed them to understand the collection process. Finally, we asked them specific questions about the user interface to understand their key challenges.


From the interviews, we created three personas that represented the three key user types.


Based on what we learned in the interviews, we created a survey that was sent out to all collection site leaders. The goal of the survey was to understand key pain points and challenges, as well as about customer demographics.


As a result of our research, we found that:

  1. Customer service was a key hurdle: customers would frequently not hear back from customer service and not be able to get their issue resolved
  2. Customers wanted to be connected: they desired an online community to connect with other collection site leaders to share best practices

Study Limitations

Because we were geographically restricted for our interviews, we would have desired to have interviewed customers from a more geographically representative sample.

Our personas may not have been entirely representative, but did encompass each of the three key customer segments.