By Marlene Cramer, CAPP

I recently passed by our Transportation and Parking Reception Center and heard a student employee say, “Wow, that customer just gave me a compliment. That NEVER happens!” The employee went on to comment that since she has worked for parking services, she has become a better customer.

We talked about how her perception of people delivering customer service has changed and that her patience and understanding have grown exponentially. She has learned that if she is “willing to be patient and actively listen, how much better the interaction goes.” At that point, another student employee said she felt the same way—“Working here in parking has changed me for the better.”

It was a very proud motherly moment for me. I told staff a story about having to extend a family vacation an extra night due to mechanical issues with an airplane a few years ago. When other passengers on the plane found out that we could not take off as planned, most began to lose their minds and behave badly, yelling at the airline customer service agents as if it was their fault the plane had mechanical issues. I felt no urgency to get on a broken plane, so I talked with customer service agents about my options. They were patient and professional and used good tactical communication skills with the angry, upset customers.

I jotted down the airline employee names and when I returned home, wrote a nice note thanking the airline, emphasizing that the customer service agents delivered exceptionally good service despite the stressful circumstances. A few weeks later, the airline sent a thank-you with complimentary airfare vouchers for me and the rest of my family. I didn’t write with the intention of getting anything free from the airline but it was a nice surprise and happened because I was a better customer and said thank you.

Has working in the parking industry made you a better customer?  I hope so.

Marlene Cramer, CAPP, is associate director of transportation and parking services at California Polytechnic University.