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Why Parking Should be a Function of Customer Service

April 19, 2019

Thomas Hohenacker 

For drivers in an urban environment, parking can often elicit frustration, as spaces are scarce and costs are high, not to mention the time it takes for the entire process. And it’s not only in metropolitan areas where this challenge exists. Retailers, airports and park-and-ride lots, stadiums and event arenas, and corporate campuses all experience similar issues, leaving drivers upset before ever setting foot in their final destination.


But the concept of parking doesn’t need to create negative feelings for drivers. In essence, a business has a responsibility to extend its service well past its front doors, beginning with the moment that a potential visitor/customer/traveler turns a vehicle onto the property. But prioritizing this concept requires a significant shift in mindset.


Almost every enterprise organization that supplies a service will declare that providing consumers with the best and most efficient experience possible is central to their overall mission. 


Generating revenue and satisfaction in a sustainable manner is critical to the business operation. The problem is that this mantra usually relates only to what takes place inside a facility, such as comfortable seating in airports, discounts on clothing items or free food samples throughout a mall — elements that tend to the consumer once they’ve already walked inside the building. 


However, to be truly visionary in providing extended customer service, organizations must step outside the box and expand their boundaries of service to include all areas surrounding the facility that a consumer must navigate to reach their destination.


Many times, someone has thought to themselves: “I hate going to that store — I can never find a place to park!” It may not be that blatantly stated, but an individual’s experience with an organization or location includes the time it takes to enter the area, find a parking space and exit afterward — and a hassle-free trip is always preferred. 


A customer’s perception of the overall business is therefore influenced by the critical component of parking, demonstrating the need for organizations to take a service-based approach to this process. Circling an open-air parking lot struggling to find a free space does not give the impression that a business cares about the customer. 


In fact, according to research by CBRE, 93 percent of respondents indicated that parking areas in the retail industry are extremely or very important to the company bottom line. 


 


Providing Parking as a Service 


Parking as a Service, the appropriate concept to address this challenge, follows the “as a Service” model that was derived from the software and cloud-computing industry. This innovation helps monetize functions that have typically been seen as par for the course for a business to provide. The idea is to implement technology solutions that both provide a service while also delivering an element of marketing to people (in this case, to drivers as they enter a lot). 


Parking managers must follow along with this line of thinking, where it isn’t enough to simply let drivers know how many spaces are available in any given lot. To truly serve the customer, direction to open spaces is critical, and this can be achieved through smart parking management infrastructure and intelligent solutions.


Through the use of smart sensors mounted on top of a lamppost that cover up to 100 spaces per sensor and provide dynamic, omnidirectional LED signs, drivers can receive not only real-time updates of available spaces, but also guidance that communicates exactly where the spaces are located. 


From every position in the parking lot, drivers can immediately see the available spaces, as innovative LED signs ‘float’ above the entire parking area. This extra layer of information and service can minimize the time spent searching, cutting down on stress and providing better service overall from the moment of arrival. 


 


The idea is to implement technology solutions that both provide a service while also delivering an element of marketing to people.


 


But going a step further, facility managers can also use this same technology to communicate targeted messaging to drivers. Omnidirectional, 360-degree guidance signs wrapping around the lampposts can display additional information such as advertising, media sponsorships or event and security messages, creating a positive opinion from a customer toward an organization that genuinely cares about its customers.


When it comes down to it, there aren’t many reasons why parking operators shouldn’t prioritize an efficient parking solution for their organization. Parking as a Service to customers extends the true goals of business leaders looking to please the individuals that will be spending money at their facility. 


It’s paramount that enterprise organizations understand that customer service doesn’t begin and end as a customer walks through your doors. Companies can achieve exceptional customer service by striving to provide the best possible experience from the very first exposure. Doing so may make all the difference in a happy customer versus one who chooses your competitor up the road. 


Thomas Hohenacker, is CEO and Founder, Cleverciti Systems. He can be reached at thomas.hohenacker@cleverciti.com.



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