Tag Archives: customer service

Listening to Your Customers

Man Listening holding his hand near his earBy Jeff Perkins

One of the real challenges for parking providers is getting input from customers on an ongoing basis. The highly transactional nature of parking doesn’t always lend itself to a good feedback loop. So, as a parking provider, how do you know how you are doing? Are you meeting the consumer’s needs, or are you failing? How do you get better if you don’t know what’s broken?

Fortunately, our company’s users are more than willing to share their feedback with us. And while it’s important to read the positive reviews, you actually get a lot more insight out of the negative ones.

We spend a lot of time reading our reviews and doing a lot of surveys with our users–fortunately, when people create an account, they provide their email address so we can survey them. The insights we get from this research then inform how we evolve our offering. For example, one constant complaint we used to get was that people did not want to download an app just to pay for parking one time. As a result of this feedback, we added the option of paying via a mobile web browser. It’s an excellent example of listening to your customers and building new options.

Doing market research is easier than ever. Tools such as SurveyMonkey make it simple to create online surveys and email them to people who may have parked in your locations. If you don’t have a customer database, Survey Monkey can even help you find the people you’re looking for to take the survey. Also, nothing beats face-to-face interactions. Spend some time out on the streets talking to the people who are parking. Ask them about their experience and what would make it better.

If you have questions on how to improve your parking program, start by listening to your customers. They will probably have the answers you are looking for.

Jeff Perkins is CMO and head of product at ParkMobile.

IPMI Webinar: Teleworking: An Alternate Mobility Mode. Presented by Perry H. Eggleston, CAPP & Ramon Zavala University of California at Davis.

Teleworking: An Alternate Mobility Mode

Perry H. Eggleston, CAPP, DPA; Executive Director for Transportation Services; University of California at Davis

Ramon Zavala, Transportation Demand Manager, UC Davis Transportation Services

We are currently launching a new member portal. Please contact us at professionaldevelopment@parking-mobility.org to register.

Or purchase the entire 2021 professional development series bundle.


Rahm Emanuel said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Last year brought discussions of campus closures, telelearning, and teleworking. Within a week, these discussions were reality. When the awareness that this COVID thing would last longer than a few weeks, we started to look at how the lull could be used to keep the momentum of teleworking going as a demand-reduction tool.

To address all the issues for making teleworking an ongoing mobility strategy, we created a telework committee. Stakeholders from human resources, technology, safety and ergonomics, employee/union relations, communications, and finance. Transportation Services coordinates the committee, which will address the physical, legal, supervisory, and training issues and keep teleworking a viable mobility option into the future.

Attendees will:

  • Illustrate how teleworking is a mobility advantage.
  • Recognize the institutional needs of a teleworking program.
  • Detail best practices and measure the effectiveness of amnesty and relief programs for constituents and revenue recovery efforts.

Offers 1 CAPP Credit towards application or recertification.


Presenters:

Perry H. Eggleston, CAPP, DPA; Executive Director for Transportation Services; UC Davis Transportation Services

Perry Eggleston, CAPP, DPA, has more than 25 years’ experience developing, refining, and implementing mobility programs as an officer, supervisor, manager, director, consultant, and executive director. In his career, he has served organizations in California, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Texas. He is an active member of the IPMI and California Public Parking Association.

Ramon Zavala, Transportation Demand Manager, UC Davis Transportation Services

Ramon Zavala holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology from UC Irvine, where he began his work in transportation demand management. After seven years with UCI’s Transportation department, he transferred to UC Davis’ Transportation Services, where he manages the TDM program, transit relations, and overseeing the overseeing the bicycle program.

 

Register here.

 

 

 

 

A Parking Lesson: Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes

Close-up teenager's retro style black and white tennis shoes, tattered, ripped, dirty, isolated on white backgroundBy Scott C. Bauman, CAPP

As a municipal parking manager, I often hear the following from residents; “There’s a car that’s always parked in front of my house. I want it gone. That’s MY parking space!”

The passion residents feel for the on-street public parking in front of their home can be deep and abiding. I have a better understanding of this now. Many residents incorrectly assume that the on-street parking directly in front of their home is either an extension of their property or that they have a fundamental entitlement to that space. When someone else repeatedly parks in front of their home and the homeowner looks out their window and sees that same car parked again and again, emotions can start flowing and tension builds. The homeowner often truly believes that the on-street space in front of their home is theirs, and other parkers are prohibited from using it.

Before recently, I’d receive these types of complaints and have the automatic response of, “The on-street parking directly in front of your residence is not your property. It’s public right-of-way owned and managed by the city, yada-yada-yada.” Citizens eventually come to comprehend this fact but always find it frustrating.

Awhile back, I gained a new perspective on this emotional issue. My neighbor started regularly parking his oversized, bright red, commercial plumbing van directly in front of my home. Every time I looked out my window, I saw that big stupid red van and got very irritated. While I didn’t contact my local city agency to complain (as I know better), I did speak with him and nicely suggest that a more appropriate place to park his van would be on his own property. I got lucky; he agreed and started parking it in his driveway. That’s when my perspective broadened.

The point of my story is two-fold. First, anyone–including a municipal parking manager–can become emotional over unfortunate parking situations. Second, I now have more compassion and empathy for my fellow citizens going through these types of stressors. The aphorism, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” is a valuable mindset when dealing with the emotional state and unique circumstances that can sometimes torment our valued customers.

Lesson learned. Lesson shared.

Scott C. Bauman, CAPP, is manager of parking and mobility services for the City of Aurora, Colo.

IPMI Webinar: Using Social Listening to Improve Your Customer Service. Presented by Melonie Curry, ParkHouston

Using Social Listening to Improve Your Customer Service

Melonie Curry, Communications Manager, ParkHouston

Register here for this webinar.

Or purchase the entire 2021 professional development series bundle.


Digital marketing is now a required element of good business. Learn to use social listening to analyze your organization’s digital footprint and social media presence. Provide responsive and timely campaigns that meet the needs of your target audience and help your organization do business better.

Attendees will:

  • Recognize the need for digital marketing.
  • Learn how to use social media to identify customer needs.
  • Examine which digital media channels best connect you with your target audience.

Offers 1 CAPP Credit towards application or recertification.


Presenter: Melonie Curry, Communications Manager, ParkHouston

Melonie Curry has developed customer educational materials for ParkHouston that share parking tips to educate the public and make parking easy and convenient. She manages ParkHouston’s social media and website and recently completed a digital marketing certification from Cornell  University. She served on the Texas Parking and Transportation Association’s Host Committee and helps manage social media. She is a member of the Social Media Advisory and Research Taskforce (SMART) and works on the Cultural Change Coalition to improve department collaboration in the City of Houston.

Register here.

 

 

 

 

Frontline Fundamentals: Flipping the Script on Customer Service. Presented by Vanessa Cummings, CAPP

Free to IPMI members, pre-registration required.

REGISTER HERE.


Non-members may attend for a $35 registration fee.  Click the register link above to attend as a non-member.  Need help logging in?

Contact us at professionaldevelopment@parking-mobility.org.

NOT A MEMBER? JOIN TODAY.


Flipping the Script on Customer Service

Vanessa Cummings, CAPP

Understanding perceptions and reality when the shoe is on the other foot can be essential to improving customer service at every level.  This upbeat session will include role playing and a healthy dose of fun as we review and assess the actions and reactions between customers and our frontline customer service and enforcement personnel. Takeaways will include an effective tool to help you keep your cool in stressful situations.


Vanessa Cummings, CAPP, has 25 years of experience in parking, transportation management, and supervision. She’s passionate about inspiring and empowering people through real-life experiences and humor to teach and mentor. As a pastor, parking professional, and consultant, she serves as a trainer, meeting planner and facilitator, and inspirational speaker. She has provided training and consulting for IPMI, colleges, universities, regional conferences, and churches for 19 years.

Giving Extra Grace While Keeping Your Staff Safe

By Vanessa Solesbee, CAPP

In a normal year, many mild-mannered, rational people go a bit crazy during the holidays. As evidenced by the countless news stories about pre-COVID stampedes and fist fights over that prime parking space, this time of year tends to bring out some of our less desirable characteristics.

For many, the added stress of the pandemic has begun to normalize, and not in a good way. We are all getting used to being in a constant state of anxiety and high alert—about our health, job security, our families, friends, and our communities. Many who work in customer service roles have participated in training after training about how to effectively negotiate difficult people, both before and during the pandemic. We’ve also recognized that people are just not themselves right now and that most people who act out just need a bit of extra grace or some time to cool down.

While this pandemic has provided all of us with an opportunity to develop or build upon our emotional intelligence skills, giving our patrons a little extra grace does not mean we should lose sight of our commitment to keeping those we employ and/or manage safe and supported.

Recently, one of my staff had an unfortunate experience with a community member well-known for expressing displeasure (not just about parking). This individual chased our town enforcement vehicle, making several unsafe maneuvers in traffic, yelling out the window until the employee pulled over. The individual then jumped out of his car and rushed the driver’s side door, yelling and waving his citation. The staff member handled the verbal altercation well and it resolved without escalation to the police department, however the community member then wrote a scathing email blaming the employee, me, and the town for a poor customer service interaction to our mayor, town trustees, local paper, and others.

Thankfully, the entire interaction (including the almost movie-like chase) was caught on our in-car camera. The staff member was equipped with a police department radio, and my employee and I did a full debrief immediately afterwards and he provided me with a written report. Our investment in the proper pre-incident security measures and post-incident protocols allowed me to provide a full and accurate account of the situation. It also allowed me to confidently and firmly stand up for my employee and state in a (very) public manner that this type of behavior would not be tolerated under any circumstances.

While this type of interaction is not new to anyone who has been working in parking (and transit) for any length of time, the situation was a good reminder that no matter what external factors the world throws our way (pandemic, wildfires, economic instability), making sure our frontline employees feel safe, protected, and supported should be priority one. Many of us have been trained that excellent customer service includes giving our patrons the benefit of the doubt every time (“the customer is always right!”), but this philosophy can also encourage an immediate imbalance in the power/relational dynamics of service provider and customer.

I have worked in a customer service type of position for the majority of my 18-year career and have learned I am better able to serve angry or disgruntled patrons if there is an understanding that a basic level of civility is required from both parties. While I may feel empowered by my role, experience, or privilege to lay down firm boundaries with those I serve, it is important that as a manager, I also work continuously to ensure my staff feels that same empowerment—not for the purpose of swinging toward the opposite end of the spectrum (“the customer is always out to get me”) but to confirm their value as employees in our organization and their value as human beings, worthy of feeling supported and protected each time they put on the uniform and head out the door.

Vanessa Solesbee, CAPP, is parking and transit manager and Estes Valley Resiliency Collaborative (EVRC) Administrator for the Town of Estes, Colo.

IPMI Webinar: The CCPA and State Efforts to Protect Consumer Privacy: What the Parking Industry Should Know

Live Online Webcast: Free for CPPA and IPMI Members $25.00 for Non-members

The California Public Parking Association (CPPA) in partnership with IPMI is hosting this presentation that will review the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 and various state efforts to protect the privacy of its citizens, including:

  • An overview of common privacy threats and legal landscape:  Shooting at a moving target
  • The intersection of expanding customer expectations and legal obligations
  • Discussion of what makes an information security/privacy program “defensible”?
  • The ROI for investing time and resources in an information security/privacy program
  • Effective strategizing for moving to the next level of cybersecurity and privacy protection

Objectives:

  • Understand the changing legal landscape related to consumer privacy and the likely legal changes on the horizon;
  • What efforts that they can engage in now to both prepare to meet their specific legal obligations and to implement information security/privacy program “best practices” in their organizations; and
  • Which internal and external resources (e.g., data privacy officers, outside counsel, information security experts) can help them right-size their efforts regarding a fast changing area of the law.

Presenters:

Sue Friedburg is the co-chair of Buchanan’s Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Group.  Sue advises clients about the rapidly evolving standards of care for safeguarding confidential information and responding effectively to security incidents that threaten to compromise our client’s valuable or protected information.  Sue has extensive experience advising clients on the fast-changing world of consumer privacy laws at the federal and state level.

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Holland regularly advises clients from all business sectors on the impact of consumer privacy laws and legislation that continue to be a hot topic across the United States.  Bringing his experience to businesses offering a variety of products and services, Rob helps them address the sometimes thorny implementation issues related to the laws.  No two businesses are the same, and Rob brings that recognition to help each business craft a unique approach to protect their customers and their reputations.

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Wrona is a legal veteran to the parking industry, having served as counsel to a number of public and private parking operators and related businesses.  Notably, Jason has served as the outside counsel to the Pittsburgh Parking Authority for more than 10 years.  He has a deep understanding of all facets of the parking industry and is proud to be counted as a “parking nerd.”

Flipping the Switch with the BEAST

By Vanessa R. Cummings, CAPP

When you work with customers, which most of us do, you need to know the best way to interact with them. Some are less than friendly; we may also have colleagues, friends, or family who push our buttons. If you can relate to this, then you need to meet the BEAST.

So, who is this BEAST? It’s an approach that can help you to stay professionally focused when dealing with difficult people and situations. Changing your mindset when challenged is the key.

Want to know more? Consider attending the “Flipping the Script on Customer Service” Frontline Fundamentals session on Tuesday, Oct. 20. Trust me, this will be fun and interactive. Yes, it is safe for your customers, family, church, friends, and colleagues. The BEAST is something we all need to use and keep in our toolkit. If you deal with difficult people, you need to meet the BEAST.

Vanessa R. Cummings, CAPP, is CEO of Ms. V Consulting, LLC. She will present on this topic during a free-for-IPMI-members online session tailored for frontline parking professionals on Tuesday, Oct. 20. Click here for details and to register.

Member News: Flowbird Uses Advanced Technology To Limit Contact During Transactions

May 6th, 2020

Company focuses on reducing germ spread while supporting city financial health

Moorestown, NJ – Flowbird Group has announced recent developments that limit the amount of physical interaction with its parking kiosks and an alternative to avoid the kiosks altogether. The leader in curbside management, having been involved in downtown commerce for over 50 years, plays a critical role in urban mobility. The company’s solutions have helped cities worldwide collect vital revenue that is reinvested to provide invaluable services to the community. During this global pandemic, the physical and financial health of cities are being threatened, leading Flowbird to respond to the call.

One such feature is Flowbird’s latest release of pay station software called, “recall”, which is now available on the CWT smart parking kiosk.  How does it work? The recall feature makes a ‘token’ from the credit card used the first time a driver makes a transaction at a kiosk. The next time they return and swipe their card, the kiosk will suggest the same license plate number and phone number for text receipts. This limits the amount of physical interaction when entering their license plate number for pay-by-plate transactions, or entering their phone number for time expiration reminders and receipts. The recall function is an optional feature that the City operator can choose to enable on their kiosks.

While credit card use at Flowbird kiosks remain high and contactless payments rise in popularity, Flowbird reminds and encourages drivers to use ‘tap-to-pay’ methods whenever possible. Several Flowbird clients are in the final phases of launching contactless/NFC payments, including the ability to accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and credit cards with the NFC symbol.  This method of payment eliminates another touchpoint at the kiosk.

For users who are not quite ready to interact with pay stations or meters, Flowbird continues to provide and make advances to its Flowbird mobile payment application. The latest release of the app was recently launched at the end of April, giving drivers the option to search, filter, book and pay for a parking reservation before they even leave their home.  This gives motorists a completely contactless parking experience.

“Our number one concern will always be our customers and their safety,” said Benoit Reliquet, President of Flowbird, North America, “Over the last several months, we have also seen city revenues dropping tremendously, so it is important that we offer as many ways as possible for cities to continue to collect parking fees while ensuring the health and wellbeing of its citizens.”

Currently, Flowbird supports over 40,000 parking pay stations for over 600 customers throughout the U.S.  Their mobile apps have been deployed in over 600 municipalities and universities around the world including 100 locations in the United States, with over 1.5 million mobile users globally.

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Flowbird US Media Contact
Sean Renn – Vice President of Marketing & Communications
856-220-1577
sean.renn@flowbird.group
www.flowbird.group