Tag Archives: customer service

A Unique Second Chance to Make a Great First Impression

As the COVID crisis continues winding down, the parking industry has been given a second chance to make a great first impression with the customers and institutions we support.

As offices, schools, restaurants, venues, and tourist attractions continue reopening and welcoming back workers, students, and guests, parking operations will once again fill up with cars. We have an opportunity to make the most of drivers’ fresh perspective—and we can do that by reframing the understanding of parking. It’s no longer a commodity; today, parking is a service.

Andrew Sachs, CAPP, writes about the industry’s unique second chance to make a great first impression in this month’s Parking & Mobility magazine, including how COVID changed how we do what we do, expectations going forward, and predictions of the technologies and trends that may disrupt our future–and how to react for the best possible customer experience no matter your sector.

Frontline Fundamentals: Refocused and Refreshed: Experiential Customer Service. Presented by Dennis Burns, CAPP

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Frontline Fundamentals: Managing Customers in a Remote Environment. Presented by Maggie Vercoe

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We have launched your new IPMI member portal.  Click here to login, reset your password, and register for these free trainings. If you have questions, or need assistance, please contact us here.

  • Member Rate: Free; pre-registration required,
  • Non-member rate: $35 registration fee.  Click the register link above to attend as a non-member.
  • Join today and find out more about member benefits here.

Flowbird_LogoFrontline trainings are provided free of charge to all IPMI members, and are generously supported by our exclusive Frontline Sponsor, Flowbird.

 

Outstanding

By Kim Fernandez, CAE

The LaFerrari was designed to be the Italian car company’s definitive, ultimate model. It was their first hybrid and their last mid-mounted 12 cylinder, roaring with 949 horsepower while saving 40 percent fuel consumption, zero to 60 in 2.4 seconds. Only 499 were made between 2013 and 2016, all sold by invitation to owners who largely remain anonymous, and most never driven to this day beyond contract-required service miles.

To my college-age car fanatic, it is, as Joe Pesci once said, the silver tuna—as the company intended, the ultimate hypercar, the most elusive, the one car guys chase a glimpse of for years. When one popped up at the dealer about 45 minutes from our house and somehow hung around until his on-campus summer project ended, there was no question about it: We were going.

We’ve been to high-end dealers to see other cars before and the drill is generally the same: Park my Subaru next to a wall of glass at the side and spend an hour taking photos, talking about every nuance of the cars, and being soundly ignored, generally with a downward facing, slightly annoyed sniff, by the designer-suited staff.

Ferrari was different. Same wall of glass, same Subaru, same young man and dopey mom, but a coiffed salesperson put a little hop in his step to open the door for us and smiled and replied, “Of course, my pleasure,” when I thanked him. Every person there greeted us when they walked by, including the service staff when we snuck back to see what treasure was on the lifts that day. One salesperson even stepped to the side of the steps leading up to the lofted office level to let us go first when we ran up to get photos of the beast from above, and nobody said a word when we reached a camera over the velvet rope to get a better shot of the bright red silver tuna’s black, carbon fiber logo—or when we peered inside the five other 30-year mortgage-priced cars in the room.

The LaFerrari the kid finally saw has 100 miles on its glass-enclosed engine and shines for days. It originally sold for just more than $1 million and is currently priced at $3.5. Someone will buy it and stash it away in a garage as an investment but it won’t be anyone remotely like us. And it didn’t matter. We were treated like customers—valued ones. It was, honestly, shocking in the very best way.

I am replacing “the Nordstrom of customer service” in my own vernacular. From here on out, it’s the Ferrari of customer service, for going above and beyond when they clearly got nothing out of it and there was zero return. I’ll remember that a lot longer than what cars we saw that day, and hope it sunk into the college kid’s head a little bit along with the thrill of finally catching way more than a glimpse of his elusive prize. It’s a lesson that’ll serve him well.

Kim Fernandez, CAE, is IPMI’s director of publications. This was published in the September 2021 issue of Parking & Mobility magazine, free to all IPMI members.

Nordstrom to Disney to Parking

In 1989, the new downtown management organization in Kalamazoo, Mich., began negotiating with the City of Kalamazoo to take over and manage the downtown municipal parking system, writes David Feehan in this month’s Parking & Mobility magazine. A recent survey of residents had revealed that the most hated aspect of downtown was parking. Enforcement officers had been dubbed “meter Nazis” and one customer referred to the parking garages as “dull, dirty, dark, and dangerous.”

The city was losing as much as $100,000 a year on the system, had bond obligations to pay, and heard frequent merchant complaints at city council meetings. Business leaders on the board of directors of Downtown Kalamazoo Incorporated (DKI) thought they could do a better job and so, through a series of leases, subleases, and operating contracts, DKI assumed responsibility for downtown parking—on street, off street, garages, enforcement, and meter repair.

David writes he knew a paradigm shift in thinking was necessary and urgent. So he recruited a hastily organized parking task force, and at the first meeting, posed the question, “How would the parking system operate if it were run by Nordstrom?”

The city found out–and you can too. What happens when parking’s run like Nordstrom?

True Team Effort

International team of coworkers putting colorful puzzles togetherBy John Mason, CAPP, PMP

Very seldom as a manufacturer or contractor do you find true team efforts when replacing a client’s legacy equipment. A true team effort is when the client fully engages in the change.

It’s important as a client that you involve yourself in efforts to learn your new products and not just expect a turnkey system to run without your input or interest. Nobody likes changing. It’s a lot of effort, especially when you had a functional system in place chugging right along.

It’s important as the installer to remind yourself what a frustrating process large-scale change is to a client as well, and have compassion for them. You must make sure you are doing everything you can to take the pain out of the change. For example, a client may point out how the user interface could be enhanced in a way that makes it more intuitive, or they could find a bug. In either case, taking that information and making changes creates a better product. Customer satisfaction increases because you listened and made things easier for the client.

If both sides invest in this approach and truly partner, the end result becomes a win for all involved.

John Mason, CAPP, PMP, is a project manager with HUB Parking Technology.

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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.