The parking industry long “enjoyed” an advantage over other service industries in that focusing on the customer experience took a back seat to the parker’s basic needs of convenience, location and safety.
Not so much in today’s world with “alternative” providers brokering residential driveways, start ups willing to pick up and drop off a customer’s car anywhere in the metro area and the now established online transient parking reservation choices. In this new world, those universal customer service stats we all know too well - it’s 7 more times more expensive to acquire a customer than to retain one, it takes 12 positive transactions to make up for the one negative one, etc.! – suddenly have a distinct relevancy. And don’t forget social media: check out Yelp reviews of any downtown parking – public and private – to see our customers have taken to sharing their experiences in a variety of ways online.
Within all this, what opportunity does the parking operator have in its ability to retain customers and build loyalty? No bolts of lightening here folks – it always starts and ends with the service delivered by each front line associate with every transaction as trained, coached and supported by his/her leader and the corporate team. If your organization hasn’t evaluated its training practices through the lens of today’s parker, the time is now to do so.
As my business partner and parking consultant, Vicki Pero, has facilitated and presented on many times in current months, a good first step is to look at and update the company’s “rules of the game” also known as standard operating procedures. It isn’t unusual for us to come across an organization’s related documentation, signage, etc., only to find a portion of the content actually contradicts what an associate practically is able to do on the lot. The best way, we believe in improving training is to first examine and update internally what an organization’s standards of service are to then refresh/build the training and support programs that best enable the frontline to learn and retain what is expected when serving each and every customer, regardless of transaction type.
If you’d like to learn more and are attending the upcoming IPI Expo at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, you’re in luck! Vicki’s been invited to present on this very topic and will provide a good number of best practices that can be immediately put to use in any organization through her highly interactive session, Cracking the Code to Sustaining a Customer Service Culture on July 1st at 11:30am PST. Look forward to seeing you there!