Melissa Morgan, CAPP, Director of Customer Success
T2’s Parking Perspectives series draws from the experiences of T2ers that have previously worked in parking departments at universities, municipalities, and operators, including many who are former T2 customers. From this experience comes a level of expertise that understands parking and mobility from a holistic perspective, helping us provide better service and solutions to our customers.
A Not So Great Introduction to Parking
I started in parking working at a community college and didn’t immediately find my joy in that role. I was filling a role that had originally been filled by people that looked at parking as this terrible task that they just had to do. It wasn’t something they enjoyed, and they really didn’t understand the aspect of being able to interact with the employees or with the customers. So, when I got this particular role, it was just doom and gloom all the time. It was very much the way people that write citations all the time are seen – they are constantly being beat over the head with negativity. So my introduction to parking was not so great.
As I became to understand the operation and write citations, I was able to hone my skills of keeping a level head and staying positive. Daily I would run into an angry student (or faculty/staff member) who wanted to know why I wrote them a citation when they are paying for books and classes. I had to learn that you really have to put a positive spin on everything. This allowed me to work on my mindset and understanding of how I would feel by putting myself in their situation. It helped me learn how to be empathetic and really own what that word meant, not only in a work setting but also in my personal life.
Turning the Tide
I was at the community college for a few years and was able to turn the tide on how the parking office was viewed by customers and staff by turning their interaction with our office into a positive experience. One day, our system went down right before we were starting ticketing in the semester. The customer line was out the door, and everything had to be done manually. I really feel that if I hadn’t brought a positive spin, the experience all the way around – for the staff as well as for those waiting in line – would have ended up much different. Everyone was calm and joking, and while we got the occasional person who was really upset about it, everything worked out in the end. I really was able to bring that customer service experience to that role, that I believe carried on after I left. But still, I wasn’t really sold into what parking was.
Living the Frontline Experience
After leaving the community college I came to Atlanta and worked for a third-party operator who managed parking for Class A office buildings, events, valet, etc. This is where I learned what a real frontline customer service experience should be. It was service with a smile. It was putting aside my bad day and understanding that somebody else could be having a bad day, knowing I could be the positive spot in their day. This is what I trained my employees on, first and foremost: be the positive spot in your customer’s day.
Class A office buildings are a little bit different, because you’re dealing with corporate America. There’s a real need and drive to ensure that as people are coming in and heading out, they have a great experience while parking at the building. It was important that your booth attendant was at the entry greeting everyone and saying good morning, and in the afternoon was saying goodbye. We really personalized that parking experience, because it’s the first and the last thing that customer sees as they’re conducting their business.
Valet is driven by tips for the employee and understanding that you provide a service, and in providing that service you are compensated. However, not everyone understands that valet is tip driven. It’s about finding the balance of understanding this is your job and this is what you’re getting paid for, but also not allowing those several customers that will come through the line and not tip you to ruin the shift for you.
Regarding event parking, I’ve said a million times that if you keep people moving you keep them happy. Understanding the workflow of getting people into an event and out of an event quickly and safely, just by keeping them moving and smiling and chatting, is important, and it’s all very simple.
Bringing Empathy to Customer Support
My experiences helped me transition into Support with T2. If a customer calls because their lane is down, because of my frontline experience I know that somebody is screaming at that person in the middle of the lane. To someone without that frontline experience, you’ve just got “Angry Bill” calling again for the third time that day saying that his gate doesn’t work. But Bill’s been yelled at by everybody from his chain of command down and every other customer that’s left the facility. I think if you can understand your customer’s position when you’re getting on the phone or replying to an email, it makes your job easier and it makes that experience better for the customer.
The key to great customer service is being able to be empathetic all the way around, from what your employees are going through to what your customers are going though. It’s important to be able to take a step back and understand that if a customer is angry, it’s not personal – they are not angry at you, only the situation.
Being a Positive Light
As I’ve transitioned into my current role leading our Account Managers, I think it’s even more important for me to be able to step back and be empathetic. We know most people don’t typically call to say, “Hey, you’ve done a really great job today.” We will oftentimes get individuals calling with a frustrating situation. I feel that it’s my job as their supervisor to ensure that I stay as positive as possible.
Even if it is a bad day or a bad moment, I must bring the positive light to my job, my team, my customers, and my company. Good, bad, or indifferent, I think if you talk to any of the current or past team members that I’ve been able to work with, they’ll tell you that I try to see the positive in every situation.
Making a Difference
If I can change a negative day for just one person, then it has been a really great day for me. I get emotional, and I don’t know why, but I live and breathe that. I want to make a difference in somebody else’s life and somebody else’s world. And if that means making them feel great as they’re leaving the parking deck, as small or insignificant as that may seem to some people, for that person it meant everything, and I want to be that person.
That’s why I love what I do. I wasn’t able to fall in love with it my first job in the parking industry, because I didn’t really understand what my purpose was. I am not sure if I was born to be in parking, but I do know that I was born to make people feel great. And it just so happens I get to do it in parking, and I love every single minute of it. For me, that is what the ultimate customer service is – it’s about making a difference in somebody’s day, in whatever capacity that is.
As T2’s Director of Customer Success, Melissa leads her team of Account Managers to foster customer relationships and ensure our customers are given any support needed. Melissa leverages her team’s talent to exceed the expectations of existing customers and the onboarding of new customers. Interactions with customers give Melissa the opportunity to peer into the views of many different owners, operators, and technicians to gain valuable insight. The motivating factor for Melissa is the fact that she can take her learnings from customers and create an effective parking operation.