4 Ways To Increase Customer Loyalty And Repeat Revenue

Megan

About the author: Megan Bubley is the Customer Support Lead at SpotHero. She responds to and analyzes customer reviews and issues to figure out how to make the parking experience better from an operational perspective. She believes that customer satisfaction is the key to success in parking.

 

Today customer satisfaction is an expectation, not a luxury. An angry customer can reach a whole network of people and share their experience in seconds thanks to social media.

If you’re not thinking about your customer’s needs, you are putting yourself at risk for losing both current and future customers.

Why care about keeping your customers happy?

Repeat revenue is a large part of creating a sustainable parking operation. Finding your ‘regular’ customers and gaining more parkers through word of mouth can ensure you’re set up for success, even without a huge marketing budget.

Listening to customer feedback is key to providing a good experience. However, most parking operators don’t have an easy way to solicit feedback from their customers. That’s where we come in.

One benefit of working with an online reservation platform is access to customer reviews of your facility. As a customer support agent, my main goal is to analyze reviews to discover the formula for the best parking experience.

There are four common things that operators do that can lead to an unpleasant customer experience, and many of them have pretty easy solutions. Today I am sharing them with you.

1. Friendly attendants drive loyalty

Attendants can be the distinguishing factor between two parking experiences. Everyone appreciates a nice facility or state of the art technology, but many drivers ultimately are willing to pay more for better interactions with attendants.

If you have attendants at your facility, take a moment to read the actual review below, and the tips we’ve put together based on customer feedback.

Here is an example of a poor review due to attendant interactions:

Need to be more attentive to the needs of their customers. Perhaps smiling or anticipating the the needs of their customers will help. I’ve parked at this garage in the past and had the same experience. I shouldn’t park my vehicle in a garage and feel as if i’m a hassle to the employees.

Where some operators struggle

  • Their staff may be unintentionally ignoring customers while focusing on parking cars. Building relationships with regular customers will help ensure loyalty.
  • Attendants may not know alternative ticket validation processes. Redemption issues are a common source of conflict for customers with online reservations, but can be easily avoided.

Opportunities for success

  • Take time to train all attendants about policies, procedures, and appropriate customer interactions.
  • At valet locations, happy customers are more likely to tip. Use this as a direct incentive for your attendants
  • Incentivize positive feedback and customer experience.

Encouraging service-oriented attendants can increase revenue and repeat customers:

I love this location. Staff are friendly, cooperative, and attentive. First class operation. Easy in and easy out. I will continue to use this lot over and over again. It may be more expensive, but the difference is enormous! Thanks for the great experience!

2. Seamless and efficient operations keep customers coming back

People want transportation to be easy. Driving will likely be their first choice… as long as parking is convenient. However, parking operators are now competing with alternative forms of transportation, like ride sharing, that pride themselves on convenience.

If you wanted to get somewhere and you could either request and pay for an Uber with the touch of a button, or wait in line at an inefficient parking facility, which would you choose?

If your operations are slow or lack fluidity, your customers are going to choose not to drive.

Where some operators struggle

  • At facilities with attendants, finding the right balance of staff to volume is tricky. Being understaffed during peak commuting hours and event times is sometimes a cost of doing business. However, communicating with customers about delays could be the key to their satisfaction.

Here is an example of a facility with a great location but slow operations – and they just lost a customer:

I love this location but the valets are always so SLOW. I had to wait 20 minutes for them to retrieve my car. I park here frequently because of the price and location but I HATE how long they take. It always takes them forever to get the car. I missed my daughter’s appointment because of the 20 minute wait. I may not use this location again.

  • Anxious customers can be made more agitated by unsure valets. Communicating with customers during long wait times makes all the difference. Waiting for a long time is frustrating, but failing to explain what’s going on is worse.

At this understaffed facility, the valet could have educated the customer about the reasons for the wait, and what to expect:

Poorly staffed location, rude valet – I have been in line for close to 20 minutes now and still practically no movement. Spoke with the valet, and along with a shrug of shoulders the response is, “we don’t have enough people, you can’t self park and you have no choice but to wait.”  I already missed my first meeting. Hugely disappointed!

Opportunities for success

  • Make sure you’re anticipating peak commuter rush hours. Use tools like Google Trends to get a better idea of annual seasonality and be aware of high volume times and events to make sure you are well staffed. Online aggregators can also be used as a tool to determine periods of peak demand.

Something as simple as no wait time can make a customer’s experience:

Easy drop off. Well staffed valet drop off. Despite busy street, there was no line and no waiting. Nice attendant. Best price!

  • Sometimes long wait times are inevitable. Make sure attendants have the tools and training to communicate and educate customers about what they should expect during these peak hours. People are more understanding during frustrating situations when they are informed about what is going on.

Customers really appreciate when attendants take the extra time to make them feel secure:

Very smooth process. This garage has valet parking, so I simply left my car with the attendant who explained what I needed to do when I picked up the vehicle. Pick-up was quick and the car was brought down within 4 minutes of our arrival at the garage. 

 

3. Being flexible about entry and exit times pays off with repeat transactions

Offering rates that have a strict entrance time scare customers away and also put you and your staff at risk for arguments on site.

Rates with flexible times can be a selling point for many drivers, who specifically search for understanding operators.

Where some operators struggle

  • They don’t offer rates with flexible times. Even the best planners can’t account for traffic jams or last minute work meetings. If you don’t approach customers with understanding, people who could potentially be regulars won’t come back.
  • They punish customers who arrive a minute or two past their reservation time. Charging a customer $20 because they were five minutes late may seem like a revenue-generator at the time, but in the long run they won’t be a repeat customer, causing operators to miss out on more overall revenue.

This facility charged a customer for arriving a few minutes late. Not only did they lose this customer, but he won’t be recommending the facility to his friends either:

I was 2 minutes late getting out. I had to call for assistance which took another couple of minutes. The person told me that because I was 4 minutes late I had to pay an extra 6 dollars. I was not impressed at all. Will never park there again and will not recommend it to anyone.

Opportunities for success

  • Offer an all day commuter special. Customers will feel more confident parking at a location they know they don’t have to rush back to if something comes up. Plus, most of them won’t park all day anyway, leaving you with both more regular commuters and inventory to fill in the evenings.
  • Focus on creating loyal customers by being flexible and allowing extended grace periods. Sometimes it pays to forgive. Fostering a positive relationship with your customers will ensure that every time they come into the city you become their go-to garage.

Though being flexible may seem like a small thing to you, customers really appreciate it:

I showed up five minutes after my reservation ended, but they were extremely forgiving and didn’t charge me extra. Recommending to everyone I know going to the area!

 

4. Redemption technology yields happy customers – but only when used correctly

Automating your redemption process for online reservation will not only yield happy customers, but will also keep those customers coming back.

Where some operators struggle

  • They’re redeeming reservations the old fashioned way. Manual redemption takes more time. It requires more customer and attendant interaction. It creates more opportunities for things to go wrong.

Today’s drivers often feel more secure redeeming online reservations with scanners:

I do love being able to buy my spot in advance and not have to worry about a parking spot. I did not like that the garage we parked in was not equipped with the barcode reader to scan the pass. It was a little worrisome to rely on the attendant. Everything worked out ok, but the reader would be more beneficial.

  • They have the equipment, but aren’t taking the time to make sure it works. If equipment is not strategically placed and working well, be prepared for major parking stress.

This facility had good intentions when they installed scanners, but the technology ended up working against them when it didn’t work:

When exiting the scanner did not work for the people ahead of us, nor us. It was broken. We had to call the attendant. Long wait and line of cars behind us. Not happy.

  • Their staff doesn’t know what to do when things go wrong. Small issues can quickly become big problems.

Attendant did not have a scanner for the code and was rude when dealing with checking the secondary confirmation information. It wasn’t really busy yet so there is no excuse. Otherwise, the service itself was a good experience

Opportunities for success

Love the new scanners that make entry and exit a breeze.

  • Choose the right equipment, calibrate it, and make sure to educate your staff on how to use it.

Machine would not read the SpotHero code, thankfully the attendant was there to quickly assist.

 

Customer satisfaction is the key to a sustainable parking operation

Finding customers that want to park at your facility again and again is the goal. It’s the key to finding repeat revenue without spending marketing dollars, but it doesn’t come easily. Invest in customer satisfaction and it will pay off in customer loyalty.

From difficult customers to technological fails, things will go wrong from time to time, but there are steps you can take to ensure you and your staff are set up for success.

What you should take away from this article: be nice, use technology efficiently, and know what to do when things go wrong.

 

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