Parking management has a bad rap in many communities. People often feel put out by paying for parking and are confused by the associated rules and regulations. Even worse, they often feel parking citations and the accompanying fines aren’t penalties for breaking the rules but attempts to squeeze their hard earned money out of them, “the tax man wants more money”!
We know this isn’t the case. Parking management benefits the entire community.
This means that residents and visitors who are your parking customers benefit—in turn improving your agency’s relationship with the public. However, these are some of the most visible pay by plate parking management benefits–at least to consumers. This turns pay by plate into not only a parking system but a customer service solution as well.
There are several factors that make parking management a customer service solution, but most of the benefit is steeped in the technology that makes a comprehensive parking solution a possibility.
License plate recognition, or LPR, is part of this. Flexible payment options, including mobile payments also comes into play. But these are just the start when it comes to some of the reasons why pay by plate can also qualify as a great avenue to higher levels of customer satisfaction.
1. THE ABILITY TO PARK AND PROCEED
A significant part of good customer service is showing the customer you care about them. You value them and their time. Pay by plate does this.
Anything that causes delay, holding them up and possibly even making them late, leads to poor customer satisfaction. With pay by plate parking, motorists don’t need to take time to fumble with coins to plug a meter. They don’t have to stop to memorize a parking spot number. They don’t have to return to their vehicle to display a receipt or temporary permit. If mobile payments are part of your parking management solution, they don’t even need to go to a kiosk, let alone wait in line at one.
They can just park and proceed to go about their business. Paying for parking doesn’t inconvenience them one bit, which leads to a more satisfied customer.
2. MORE FOR THEIR MONEY
While this is dependent on the parking rules in your municipality or particular parking zone, pay by plate customers will feel like they’re getting more for their money and won’t have the “ripped off” feeling they may get in other parking situations.
If a customer puts coins in a meter and is called away, they just lose out on that already paid for time. Plus, they likely have to pay all over again at their next destination. This is often the case with pay by space too. But if you allow it, with pay by plate that paid up parking time travels with the plate (and the car it’s attached to) and is valid regardless of where that customer goes within that zone (or possibly the entire community). The customer won’t feel dissatisfied in this scenario, and they will experience more convenience by not needing to pay for subsequent stops.
3. NO NEED TO RETURN TO THE VEHICLE
Again, good customer service involves valuing your customer’s time. If motorist needs to extend their outing beyond the time they initially paid for, in most situations, they need to return to their car to plug a meter or purchase another voucher. It’s doubtful your customers see this as a good use of their time.
With pay by plate, you do have the option of enabling those mobile payment options, which will lead to more satisfied customers. Even without mobile payments, motorists who have wandered away from where their vehicle is parked should be able to extend their parking rights from any kiosk. Not having to leave a lunch to walk a quarter mile to their car will definitely lead to more positive sentiment.
4. PARKING MANAGEMENT PAYMENT OPTIONS
With a modern parking management solution, there is a lot of flexibility in how you set things up. You can allow mobile app payments and kiosk payments. You can also allow for online registration and payment of permits by plate as well as fine payment from a web portal.
Regardless of how you choose to structure things, the odds are high you’ve left the community and visitors with several payment options, and they can choose what is best for them. This is great because customers like the feeling that they have a choice.
5. NO NEED TO CONTACT “CUSTOMER SERVICE” OVER ERRORS
People make mistakes. This includes parking enforcement officers.Sometimes tickets are erroneously issued and the customer who owns that vehicle is inconvenienced. This does not make for happy customers.
Their options in these scenarios often are to either pay a fine for a ticket issued to them for a violation they did not make or take time out of their day to stay on hold with the parking authority to attempt to rectify the issue. And if they are unable to prove that the citation is an error, they may be forced to pay it anyway to avoid the hassle of a court challenge.
With modern license plate recognition technology and the associated software, errors like this are greatly reduced. Information is entered automatically, and leading technology can even correct manual errors made by enforcement officers and the customers themselves. Avoiding these kinds of negative confrontations due to errors is an obvious improvement. This allows the customer service department to focus on other aspects of improving the customer experience.
Pay by plate is a customer service solution because it increases customer satisfaction. However, this isn’t the only parking management option to have upsides. Pay by Space are time-tested technologies that will still play an important role for many years to come.