When traveling to and from New York City I prefer mass transportation whenever it’s practical – which is most of the time. Upon occasion I do drive the hour or so into Manhattan and park. With the advent of parking apps and the real-time ability to compare pricing between garages, (as well as make a reservation), it’s easier than ever before to know where you are going to park and have it all worked out in advance.
I recently used one of the apps to make a reservation. The next day I received an email from the app asking me to rate my experience at XYZ Parking. My experience? What? I came to the garage, showed them the bar code and parked my car. When I came back they brought me my car and we all got in the car and then left the garage. Is that really an experience?
Was the intent to learn whether the attendant was prompt and courteous? OK, he was or they were, at least I think so. Our interaction could not have been for more than ten or fifteen seconds either coming or going. It probably went something like ‘When will you be back to get the car” “3PM.” I don’t know if we even spoke on the return to the garage since I showed my prepaid ticket, the attendant brought the car and, well, you already know the rest.
I don’t think the purpose of asking me about my experience was to learn anything at all. Sure I could respond and give it a rating – I gave it four out of five stars just to see what would happen. I don’t know what a five star rating to a parking garage would look like, but I don’t think this one was it. After ‘rating’ my ‘experience’ the thank you page offered… a thank you and noted that my feedback helps them give better service. Not a big payoff if you ask me.
There’s nothing abjectly wrong with the parking app’s desire to brand as well as create a conduit for customer feedback. It’s calling parking in a garage ‘an experience’ that is the problem. Then there’s the thought I had that if every interaction with a digital platform results in an email asking me about my experience, I might stop responding to ANY email asking me about my experience. Except when there was a problem in the delivery of service. That actually has happened to me recently as I reached out to an upscale steakhouse brand noting a poor experience, and have had ongoing interactions with that brand on how they might make amends. I will write about this in a separate post.
Do you buy on Amazon.com? I do and somewhat frequently. Every time I order anything on Amazon, the vendor/retailer asks me about my experience. For example I bought earbuds on Amazon Prime, the vendor shipped them to me and it arrived within the promised delivery period, and when I opened the package the earbuds were inside. Is that a good experience? The next day I was, of course, asked to rate my experience.
E-commerce has been around for more than twenty years and in the past five years it has evolved much more rapidly. Intuitively online behavior is NOT the same as off-line behavior. It’s fine for a server, cashier, store clerk, or parking attendant to ask you if everything was ok. But online retailers and service providers have to do a better job of showing they are interested in their customers beyond just sending a form email asking people to rate their experience. Or don’t send anything at all. How about that?