The 5 Languages of Love in Parking
The parking industry has changed very rapidly in the last few years. Vendors/operators/parking programs can no longer be dependent on their products and services to build meaningful and stainable customer relationships. We must move beyond the Widget. So how do we move past just providing widgets? By asking the right questions. For example:
• What are my customer’s needs beyond just the product I provide?
• What are their pain points, bottlenecks, or headaches on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
• Can I provide relief or possible solutions?
• How do I better connect with my customers?
It was this last question, “How do I better connect with my customers?” that gave me my epiphany. When it comes to making meaningful connections, I think about Gary Chapman’s book The Five Languages of Love. The five languages of love are:
1- Receiving Gifts
2- Words of Affirmation
3- Acts of Service
4- Quality Time
5- Physical Touch
These ideas have now penetrated our common vernacular as people look for a better understanding of how to connect more deeply. These concepts are easy to understand; we are familiar with this kind of framework in our everyday lives. As it happens, building successful parking services is as much about understanding user psychology as it is about market dynamics.
How to measure love
Before jumping in and trying to propel customer love, it is important to develop a method to measure success. The obvious metric would be that product engagement should align with customer love, however there can be a lag in this data, and it will not fully represent what your current stand on customer love is. A more effective way to measure love is through a Net Promoter Score (NPS). This score is based on how likely a user is to recommend your product or service to others. A high NPS will correlate with customer love and can be an effective way to get a sense of what is possible.
Starting to translate the 5 languages to customer love
Now that we can measure the success of our customer love, the next step is to set target goals and then design initiatives to push towards reaching the target goals. It is important to remember that the 5 languages of love can be used in addition to the normal core competencies that any organization uses such as improving user experience, increasing the product/service’s key benefit that keeps customers coming back to your business again and again.
Language 1: Receiving Gifts
How do you give a gift to a customer? To me, no one does this better than Tesla with their Easter eggs. To put it simply, Easter eggs are hidden references, clues or inside jokes that have been inconspicuously (and sometimes not so inconspicuously) placed into cars, TV shows, video games, and movies. They’re pretty much a creator’s secret love letter to their fans, or in some cases an inside joke with fellow creators. This is a wonderful way to give a gift to your current customer base.
One of Tesla’s Easter Eggs is that their vehicles incorporate a Mars, Mars Rover and Starship themed Easter egg, upon activation, the GPS map on the touchscreen display shows the surface of Mars instead of the surface of the Earth. The surface moves and turns as the car travels just as the normal GPS would. The arrow representing the vehicle on the GPS map is replaced by a depiction of a Mars rover.
Gift giving is not something most customers expect, so when you can add to that experience by making it a surprise it makes the gift giving even more special. This automatically can put you ahead of your competition and adds such a positive message to your user experience. The key is to remember that gifts do not have to be a physical item. Gifts can range from Easter eggs built into your product, special offers or discounts; status or privileges that can be unlocked; or the physical gift such as a welcome box, gift cards, currency, or credits toward the account.
Language 2: Quality Time
Quality Time in the parking industry can be difficult due to the nature of our industry and especially as we use more and more technology that replaces the personal attentiveness that a person can provide. How do you duplicate that human element in an industry that is wanting to reduce the points of contact? There are other ways to define quality time:
• Support: provide a more personal experience on the support side of the business by having an actual person pick up the phone and help customersnavigate through a solution to their issue or questions.
• Personalization of Product/Service: In valet services this is done by greeting a returning customer by their name. When using technology maybe it is a personalized welcome back message.
• Notification/Messages: A great example of this is on the transient parking, when a customer pays for parking and then receives a text message 15 minutes before their parking session is going to expire to remind them and give them the ability to add time if needed. Or when the enforcement officer can message a customer and
let them know they left their lights on.
When it comes to providing quality time, be sure that it does not cross into being too needy or clingy as this will decrease your customer love. This is usually done by sending out too many emails, notifications, or marketing campaigns. Rather than feeling needed, the customer begins to feel smothered.
Language 3: Words of Affirmation
This is by far the easiest of love to give and the easiest to put into use within your product or service. Simply put…congratulate, thank, and encourage your users. Most people will agree that they prefer to be positively motivated than negatively motivated. Some great examples of Words of Affirmation:
• At Tez Technology when a customer signs up for one of their products, they send out a Welcome email that starts with personally thanking them for their purchase and then goes into showing them how they can receive “quality time” by introducing them to the team members that will be able to provide and care for them.
• T2 will post on social media platforms their client’s success stories and congratulate them on their wins.
• At Delta Airlines, the gate agent stopped me and gave me a personal thank you and congratulations when I was boarding a plane this year because I graduated from their Silver Medallion Member to their Gold Medallion Member.
Language 4: Acts of Service
Saying is different than doing, acts of service are more about actions rather than words. It goes beyond providing a good user experience; it is about leveraging acts of service that increase your customer love. This can be done by providing free banner ads within your product for charitable foundations or giving your customers the option to help the environment by having a “paperless option”. It is about showing how your organization gives back by trying to leave the world a little better than it was.
Language 5: Physical Touch
This can be the most challenging in the Post COVID world, but basically this means step away from your desk and put yourself out there and interact with your users. You can go to trade shows, events conferences, onsite visits, or training sessions. If there are still restrictions in place, then use video meeting programs or shop talks to reach out and connect.
We all speak different languages
In Chapman’s book about Love Languages, the primary lesson of the book was urging people to learn the other’s people’s languages and adapt their own behavior to better match how others preferred to receive love.
In other words, when it comes to giving love, it is not about you! So do not focus your efforts on just one of the love languages or you may lose a user base. You may find that based on your ICP your users tend to gravitate towards one particular love language, but likely it will be a combination. This means that you need to offer choices to your customers.
For example, you may offer swag for users who leave a review, but also offer a rewards program to repeat users. You can offer direct access to the support team within the product or provide users an option to buy into a VIP program that offers more benefits.
The key is that by letting people choose how they want to receive love will help you better understand their love language, and this will enable greater customer love in return, which then turns in to a happy loyal customer.
Katherine Beaty is VP of Implementation at Tez Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org