The Visitor Experience

By Kim Fernandez

Yesterday, I went with my mom to a doctor’s appointment. The doctor specializes in older patients, many of whom use wheelchairs or, like my mom, walkers to get around.

He had an easy-to-find parking lot behind the building, which was great to see, but the entrance to his office was around the opposite side, meaning a bit of a walk. Not ideal for an older person, but doable.

Here’s where I started wondering if he’d ever looked at his office with a patient’s eyes. While he had a gentle ramp up to his front door, there was no curb cut between the parking lot and it, meaning the only way to the ramp is up and over a high curb. A little extra support got my mom over but someone in a wheelchair would be stuck. Which left me curious as to whether he’d ever tried visiting his own office as a patient would.

I’m hopeful things will improve thanks to the new IPI-led Accessible Parking Coalition, but wonder how often people think through their properties’ accessibility–not whether it meets regulations, but whether it really works. Have you tried accessing the locations your parking serves as visitors would? How did it go—did you learn things? Let us know in the comments.

Kim Fernandez is IPI’s director of publications and editor of The Parking Professional.


1 thought on “The Visitor Experience

  1. This is an excellent post, but I would argue the need to view parking as part of the entire experience through the customer’s eyes is critical for all business. This goes to the idea of Parking as a Service, which is a critical concept for us in parking to embrace as much as it is for business that merely offer parking as a necessity of doing business. The parking facility is after all the first and last impression a customer will have. The display window may be stunning, the service first rate, but if the parking lot is a dirty inconvenient mess this is the impression customers will remember.

    A doctor’s office with parking that is inconvenient for handicap people, is likely a practice that has trouble maintaining clients and they may not know why. By way of example a good friend of mine is a partner at a 50 plus employee law firm. He recently forwarded me a poorly written notice from the parking operator of his firm’s business. His comment was “why are they treating me as a middle schooler?” One of his responsibilities for the firm was deciding whether to stay in their long standing location or move when their lease is up. He chose to move. The poor parking service was a factor in that decision. He and his fellow employees did not want to pass through a gateway to and from work that made them feel like children in trouble.

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