Parking lots are storage structures or spaces—big areas for leaving a vehicle so you can go do something more important. We park to shop, park to work, and park to enjoy a restaurant. No one chooses to hang out in the parking lot unless they have sinister plans. We even have an expression in meeting management we call, “let’s parking lot that concern.” It means the same thing—temporary storage so the meeting can be devoted to more important or more pressing concerns.
Customers often feel like they are in the parking lot of service. I was checking out of a retail store and every cash register attendant was tied up in a short stand-up meeting with the manager. I was left in the “parking lot.” When a call center line puts me on hold for more than a few minutes, I feel like I have been relegated to the parking lot. When I need service during the noon hour and the service provider is short-handed on people who can assist, leaving me to fend for myself, I feel I have been put in the parking lot.
Customers watch signals to learn exactly where they stand in an organization’s priorities. When they symbolically are “left in the parking lot,” they are today quick to find another organization that makes them feel they are the main attraction. What can you do to make sure your customers never are left in the parking lot of service?