By Vanessa Cummings, CAPP, M.Div.
I recently had two separate experiences that reminded me parking is more than just about cars — it is about customer service. I was staying at a downtown hotel in Philadelphia a few weeks ago for a connectional (international) church conference. The meeting drew thousands of people from all over the world, so you know the hotels were quite busy.
During my stay, we ran out of a critical item that every hotel room should have an ample supply of — toilet paper! Well, to run out first thing in the morning and have no backup roll was not a major problem … that is, until I could not reach the front desk, hotel operator, or guest services. It suddenly dawned on me that there is one number that is always answered because they know what it means to serve. Yes, I picked up the phone and called valet. I know they “roll” your car to the door for you so I called and asked for a different kind of roll. Guess what? Within five minutes, a maintenance man delivered two rolls of the important paper I needed.
While at work yesterday I was checking one of our lots that was being used by attendees participating in a large job fair event at our conference center. A young lady entering the lot asked about parking and then how to get to our conference center after parking. I was headed the same general direction and I happened to catch up to her just as the small straps simultaneously broke on both of her shoes. Having had a similar experience, I told her we would find a solution. She was concerned about meeting with potential employers and having broken shoe straps, which also affected walking safely.
I went with her and waited while she got registered, then I took up her to the office at our conference center and asked the staff if they could help us with shoe repairs, perhaps with tape to reattach the straps. The staff and one of our facilities staff members who happened to walk in helped her with a temporary fix so she could walk out proudly.
Both of these events are reminders that parking people are service-focused. We know that the customer experience is what matters and that it goes far beyond the car — from making sure toilet paper is delivered to shoe repairs, and the list goes on. Next time you can’t seem to find what you need, simply ask someone in parking because I am sure they will roll up their sleeves and make sure you are taken care of, from the bottom up!
Vanessa R. Cummings, CAPP, M.Div., is supervisor, parking operations, at Columbus State Community College.