Importance of Knowing Your Customer

Importance of Knowing Your Customer

August 14th, 2019 - Payments, ATMs and Unattended

By Clare Millwood, Head of Marketing and Global Communications, ADVAM

Do parking businesses really need to ‘know’ the customer and how is this achieved?

The parking industry has seen the fastest surge of new competitors and disruptors in the last 10 years compared to any previous time. Not only has there been an introduction of new competitors, there has been a fundamental shift in the way customers pay due to technology innovation such as cashless and mobile apps. What’s more, the introduction of new threats such as ride share and car share services are challenging even the need for people to own cars; and with lower car ownership comes a subsequent drop in the demand or need for parking.

Pace of change is accelerating

Although the parking industry has seen a rapid rate of change in recent years, the rate of change is constantly accelerating. In this age of change, the companies that close the gap between their brand and the voice of the customer will be the best positioned to remain competitive and combat challenger brands.

For instance, it would be a fallacy to think that only Millennials and Gen Z expect a heightened customer experience; this isn’t a generational shift as all consumers expect to look for and buy services online, want personalization and customization, are loyal to brands that they have empathy with and seek to be rewarded for their loyalty.

If general consumer behavior is shifting to this new customer focused approach, how does parking relate?

Price and even location alone are not enough to influence a purchase decision. Although value-add services such as car wash or valet parking might entice customers, understanding your customer’s preferences is the key to maximizing retention as well as acquiring new users. The basic question is, do you know who your customers are, how to maximize loyalty and how to attract new customers?

How well do you know your customers?

In the traditional parking model, it can be hard for operators to know their customer. Core data such as occupancy and length of stay are relatively easy to determine, but acquiring individual metrics and insights is a challenge without a comprehensive digital platform. You may know the rate of occupancy and the average length of stay, but do you know who your individual customers are, why they choose to park with you, how frequently they park and what makes them visit your car park?

A recent Gallup study revealed that marketers who use customer data outperform peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin[1]. And with 75% of consumers preferencing brands that personalize messaging and offers, the ability to personalize a parking message or offer an added value service can have a significant impact on growth and relevancy[2].

Using intelligence and not just data

Big Data has been a buzz word for a long time, but successful companies don’t just collate data, they apply business intelligence to the data to understand their customer’s behavior and provide a better experience. As customers become more sophisticated, so should the companies that serve them.

Parking operators need to do more than simply collect and mine customer data, they need to use this information to change and enhance the customer experience.

So, the trend is clear; operators that can transition from just a renter of spaces to one that values customer service and personalization will be the benefactor in tomorrow’s market. Without a transformation to customer experience and digital platforms, businesses will be at a competitive disadvantage and fall prey to low-cost competitors and the new disruptors.

[1]Behavioral economics,Gallup. gallup.com

[2]Source: Aberdeen Group

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