Answering parking patrons calls around the clock is a difficult task. Ask any parking garage manager who must answer intercom help calls at 3 a.m. and they’ll tell you the challenges that come with dealing with customers.
Now, imagine the challenge of answering calls for a municipal parking operation resolving questions for customers regarding parking meter functionality, credit card issues, hours, disability parking rules, citations, and more. It’s a big task, and many parking departments have decided to outsource that support to a vendor.
Cale America tried to operate their own call center for years, but staffing 24/7 was difficult, and training was time-consuming. The company even hired an external call center, but the vendor’s lack of parking expertise and efficiency, insufficient data, and expensive fees only exacerbated their call center issues.
Finally, in 2017, Cale America partnered with Parker Technology for all their call center needs. The partnership allows Cale America to focus resources on their core technology and service offerings, and serves as a competitive advantage to win more municipal parking agency contracts.
Parker Technology is the industry’s only operator-independent, parking-specific call center.
Parker Technology allows Cale America to offer clients a customer support call center with a high level of quality and consistency, without enduring the headaches and costs of staffing, training, and managing their own call center.
Outsourcing to a ‘General’ Call Center Won’t Cut It
Cale America struggled to operate their call center service for three years. The company could barely maintain adequate staffing levels to answer calls day and night, seven days a week. Turnover was high, and training was time consuming.
The company hired an external call center to support their internal team. But parking is a unique beast, and the vendor couldn’t get staff up to speed with the nuances of the equipment, processes, and business rules for each municipal client.
As a glorified answering and messaging service, the vendor was unprepared to handle the demands of parking services. While the CSRs could record basic info, they couldn’t understand and resolve the parking patron’s issues.
“To handle a parking patron’s call properly, we are supposed to go through a whole process—what kind of meter, what kind of payment, and so forth. These answering-service call centers lack the skills for troubleshooting and fact-finding, a key component to an effective parking call-center experience.”
Indera St. LaurentSupport Services Manager
Support tickets and unresolved matters were adding up. Municipal clients were frustrated by consumer complaints of long call wait times and ever-increasing missed calls.
Calls that should have been resolved in a few seconds by a knowledgeable, pro-active CSR were taking much longer to resolve. Call center agents would frequently engage harried, rushed, and frustrated customers in leisurely discussions that stretched out for several minutes.
Training is Expensive and Time-Consuming
Training the vendor’s staff was difficult, if not impossible. The high turnover rate made it never-ending, and St, Laurent found herself spending more time supporting the vendor than overseeing her internal Cale America customer support staff.
“If I’m spending my time trying to train, and re-train, the vendor’s CSRs, I’m not adding value to my primary responsibility building our internal technical help desk and support teams for our [B2B] customers,” she said.
General call centers are expensive, inefficient, and lack adequate data.
Traditional call answering service fees were expensive, too. The call center saddled Cale America with a per-minute fee structure, that led to a huge expense for Cale, longer call resolution, frustrated parking patrons, and unhappy municipal clients.
Limited reporting from the vendor was inadequate for Cale America management’s needs, particularly as they sought to win new deals. “We needed more data to show our results for [municipal] customers to maintain those contracts, and to help sales win new deals too,” said St. Laurent.
Parking Specialization is Critical to Doing A Good Job
Cale knew they needed a new strategy. “The call center is an important part of our overall package to municipal and private operator clients,” said Szubka. “Packaged correctly, with the right quality and consistency, would give us a competitive advantage to win more deals.”
“We began looking for a provider who was familiar with the parking world,” St. Laurent said.
Cale America’s search quickly found Parker Technology. As an established parking services solutions provider, the Parker Technology had the know-how and savvy to help Cale America quickly.
Pricing was more manageable, too. Parker Technology’s flat-fee structure for call center services gave Cale America a predictable, consistent expense item, and did not incentivize agents to remain on the line longer than necessary.
Partners, Not “Outsourced” Vendors
As the transition rolled out, Cale America introduced the service as being delivered by Parker 24/7 Call Center to their clients. “We didn’t just hire another firm to deal with the calls, we positioned the move as bringing a strategic partner to our clients, to provide the best service possible,” said Szubka. “Clients saw the move as an upgrade, and the service has been solid since we made the change, strengthening our relationship and building on our brand for best-in-class service.”
The switch was pain-free, both for Cale America and for the client. “When I initially started this transition project, one of my biggest fears was the complexity of onboarding another call center and the complexity of learning our business,” St. Laurent said. “I’d given the Parker team a lot of business rules that customized their call center services to our needs, and I expected implementation to be much more complicated. But frankly, from our end (and our clients), it has felt nearly seamless.”
The ability to handle the unique demands of Cale America’s different municipal clients is due in large part to Parker’s proprietary software platform. It puts a dashboard with facility business rules and information at CSR’s fingertips, for efficient call resolution.
The Data Looks Good
Cale America is now missing less than 3% of calls, which St. Laurent said represents a huge improvement over the previous system, which didn’t even track those metrics.
That means far fewer missed calls, and the difference is noticeable. “Numbers-wise, I was amazed. We can already see a difference compared to our previous call center,” she said. “The data Parker Technology gathers, the way the tickets are set up, and the way Parker’s remote attendants respond to calls is exceeding expectations. They follow the script, and are doing an amazing job of listening to, and responding appropriately to our customers.”
Cale America management is impressed with the reports they receive regularly, allowing them to track metrics they previously did not have access to. “I can see call times, how many calls have come through, what time they come through, and track our busiest times of day through a single report,” St. Laurent said.
Since Parker’s staff is experienced in working in the parking sector, training is relatively minimal, with only a small amount of Cale-specific training needed to acquaint them to the specifics of the hardware and software.
What’s next for Cale?
With the burden of the call center off their plate, Szubka and St. Laurent see an opportunity to launch Cale to the next level. Partnering with Parker Technology gives them the opportunity to focus on new product and service initiatives, knowing that the parking patron call center is in capable hands. “Our partnership with Parker frees me to devote more time to the Cale support side of my job, where it should be,” said St. Laurent.
Szubka added the partnership greatly expands their capabilities going forward as Cale America continues to grow. “We have a great technology, and awesome product, and my role is making it so we’re scalable,” he said. “Preparing for growth, you have to make sure your foundation at the operational level is sound, and that included the call center. This collaboration with Parker Video Intercoms allows us the ability to focus onto the areas that need our attention and that’s going to mean more growth to our top and bottom line in the coming years.”