What does it mean to manage customers in a better way? It means two things: added value for your parking company, and added value for the drivers. The key thing is to know who the customers are. Do you?
Let us imagine ourselves in a coffee shop:
You come in, you’re greeted with a smile and a “hello.” If you’re a regular, you’re asked how you are, and they will remember your two-sugars-no-milk order. Your stamp card will be stamped. You may have asked for them to add your favorite biscotti to the selection, and they’ve got it.
If you’re new, chances are that you are introduced to the products and perhaps recommended something. And asked to revisit once you are in the neighbourhood again. You liked the place, so next time, you bring a friend along.
So, when you visit a coffee shop, they know who you are. And that makes the experience better.
The benefits of knowing your customers become evident when you think about the opposite scenario: trying to run a business blindly, not knowing who the target audience is. (For a more concrete break-down of reasons, we’ve listed the benefits at the end of the post).
A coffee shop is a true face-to-face, interaction industry. A coffee shop also has moderate volumes so customer acquaintance is easy to integrate to everyday operations.
Parking, on the contrary, is made up of a large and less controllable volume. What’s more, transactions are done anonymously and without personal contact. That doesn’t mean, though, that knowing your customer base is not possible for parking. First, though, let’s think about how things are right now.
When drivers visit your parking facility, do you know who they are?
Do you know your customers’ names? Their faces? Do you know why they park at your garage? If you saw me on the street, would you know whether I’ve parked at your garage or not? Do you know the demographics of your clientele?
Like any business, having an idea of who you are catering for is of great importance, so that you can serve them in the best possible way. It also largely affects marketing strategies. Do you have a good understanding of who your customers are?
Do you know how often they park?
Now, if I told you that I park in one of your lots twice a week, would you have any way of knowing whether that’s true? Do you know who the regular visitors of your parking facility are? Is there a way of distinguishing them from one-time visitors?
Like any business, forming a relationship with those who visit on a regular basis increases their value for you. It’s much easier to get someone to revisit than to get a new customer. Do you have a way of connecting with the regulars?
Do you know what they really need?
You can probably tell whether people usually look for short-term or long-term parking at your lot, right? But do you know for how long they park for on average, are they visitors to a nearby business or commuters? Do you know what their motives are for parking?
Parking is location-based, so being aware of the parking incentive helps optimize the user experience. Do you know the hows and whys of your customers? Are you able to respond to the demands of the drivers in your area? Can you make them park more?
Do you know how to reach out to them?
How do you communicate to your customers? Are you able to inform them about changes in your prices or operating times? Newly opened facilities? Special arrangements?
So there’s a match, or concert or sale in the area, and you’d like to let all the potential customers know that there is plenty of parking available at your facility. What are the tools for doing that? Are you able to measure the visibility and success rate of those efforts?
Do you know how to make them happy?
Are you able to thank your customers for being your customers? Do you know which ones of them you should invest in – who brings in the most revenue? Do you know what the best methods are for creating a positive and committed feeling in the drivers coming to your garage?
The most successful business is one that engages customers, in practice and also emotionally. This can be done by rewarding them for loyalty, or other personalized means. Are you able to do that for your customers?
All of these questions come back to comprehensive, effective customer management.
Businesses don’t have customer management for nothing. The logic is solid: to offer supply, you need to be able to understand and control the demand.
The benefits of knowing more about your customers:
- Better customer segmentation: Different drivers have different needs. Long-term, short-term, weekday, weekend, evening, morning. Knowing those needs helps plan out pricing, prepare for peaks and optimize usage rates.
- Increased customer satisfaction: Services that are tailored to match what customers want are prone to be more successful: think offers, campaigns and personalized communication.
- Brand awareness: Having interaction with drivers, to the point where the recognize your name and logo, makes your brand more visible, trustworthy and prone to be favored.
- Result-oriented optimization: Having all-around information about the customer flow, it’s easier to make decisions on and changes to strategies, expansion and cost-structure.
- Growing revenue: With good segmentation, personalized rewarding, visibility and successful strategies, traffic to your parking facilities increases, and so do your earnings.
Parking is a largely anonymous industry. People drive in and drive out, and it is hardly a personal experience. Fair enough, as parking is merely a side product for consumers. But at the same time it’s something that they need. For any business that has demand, the demand must be known to be able to optimize the supply. So when it comes to parking – do we know our customers as well as we should?