When Hurricane Matthew Hit Florida, Who Helped Parking Guests Needing Assistance?
October 12, 2016 – Miami. When meteorologists started predicting a storm in the Caribbean was growing into a magnitude 4 hurricane barreling for the Florida coast, parking operators throughout the region had much to worry about, from maintaining operations to the safety of their staff.
For Florida-based parking operator One Parking, this wasn’t their first rodeo, so the executive team put into motion their well-rehearsed emergency plans for supporting client operations during the natural disaster. The national company has parking facilities in several high profile locations in South Florida as well as their corporate headquarters. Overall, they have approximately 175 employees in the region.
The lethal, Category 4 storm sparked a broad emergency evacuation by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Under these circumstances, all area residents except for those who provide emergency, first responder and critical infrastructure responsibilities were expected to evacuate.
For One Parking, their emergency plan started with protecting the well-being of regional staff and their families. “Our people come first,” said Greg Susick, One Parking’s CEO. “and we made sure everyone on the team knew, as soon as we heard the first warnings of Hurricane Matthew’s trajectory, they could begin preparations to protect their personal property and take their families to a safe area.”
For facilities that are fully automated, the challenge for Susick’s team became how to provide assistance to customers outside of Florida and to local residents and workers who remained in South Florida using One Parking’s parking facilities.
Leveraging the Remote Attendant
Fortunately, numerous facilities managed by One Parking, including Courthouse Commons and mega-lifestyle center City Place in West Palm Beach, have installed the Parker Video Intercom platform. The two-way video intercoms provide face-to-face interaction between guests and CSRs, enabling One Parking staff to respond with high-quality customer service when guests press the help button.
The company uses Parker Call Center Software to operate their local command center where staff takes calls around the clock.
To address disaster recovery and emergency situations, the Parker Video Intercom platform leverages cloud-based technology enabling parking operators to easily move their command center to any location that has a high-speed Internet connection. Operators can also run a call center from multiple locations simultaneously or allow CSRs to work from home if need be.
Operators using the Parker Video Intercom platform can respond to help-button calls for facilities from anywhere in the world, giving them incredible flexibility in setting up their operation or handling emergency and disaster situations.
During Hurricane Matthew, One Parking could have easily moved their staff to a temporary location outside the evacuation zone and continued to handle calls for local properties as well as those they manage outside Florida. Working from home wasn’t an option, since most staff were leaving the area to stay with family or friends outside the danger zone.
Where did One Parking move their call center during the storm?
“We couldn’t move it, given the situation, but we knew we needed to still serve our all of our customers, including those all across the country that were not affected by the hurricane. We shut our call center down to allow our staff to focus on the safety of their homes and family, but thankfully turned to our strategic partner to help us out” said Kirsten Dolan, president and COO.
The decision to close the call center didn’t leave long queues in exit lanes at One Parking’s automated facilities when guests ran into trouble. In fact, there were nearly 200 intercom calls during the evacuation period, including local emergency responders and staff from a car dealership who were using the facility to protect their inventory during the brunt of the storm.
So who answered the calls?
“Parker Video Intercoms is more than an intercom, they offer a complete solution,” said Dolan. “We had the flexibility to allow our people to evacuate because we could turn to the Parker 24/7 Call Center in Indianapolis to take the calls during this disaster period. The seamless handoff enabled our leadership team to focus our attention on facility infrastructure, IT, emergency communications and other urgent matters during and after the storm.”
During a three-day window, the Parker 24/7 Call Center handled calls around the clock for facilities managed by One Parking. For facility visitors, the experience was the same as any other day – not including the torrential rains and winds, of course.
How did it all come together?
“The day before the storm hit the Florida coast, we had a detailed handoff with the One Parking call center staff,” said Tammy Baker, Director of Customer Experience
for Parker Video Intercoms. Baker’s team handled a fast-paced transition reviewing facility contact info, business rules, and other notes to make sure everything documented in the Call Center Software was in order.
The group verified how One Parking wanted urgent calls handled as well if the Parker 24/7 Call Center staff was not able to get ahold of a manager during the emergency.
“Overall the transition was smooth. Our team was trained quickly on each facility and we were ready to take the calls in a matter of a few hours,” said Baker. For One Parking, they maintained around-the-clock uptime by having their call center operating without the stress of managing a team of remote CSRs or incurring the significant cost of setting up a temporary call center.
The end results
In the final hours offshore of South Florida, Hurricane Matthew shifted direction northward as it approached One Parking’s primary parking locations and for the most part, damage was avoided.
“We came out of the storm free of major impact, though many others in Florida were not so lucky” said Dolan. “This won’t be the last storm we’ll face – and I’m pleased to see that our emergency playbook worked as expected. Our clients had uninterrupted service and guests in our garages received top-notch customer service when they needed help.”