Shopper Marketing and Customer Experience Management

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how important is valet parking service in the customer experience journey

These are some stories from my network of family and friends about horror experiences with valet parking in the city of Mumbai (India)…

Nishant’s experience at Masala Zone in Bandra
This happened last night at Masala Zone, Bandra. Gave my car to the valet – she was perfect at the time. When we left around 12:30, I noticed something odd with my gearbox. Once I hit the highway, I realised I couldn’t shift into 5th and the car was lurching. Just barely avoided an accident. I cautiously reached home and while parking, I realised the gear box wouldn’t shift into reverse either. Got the security guards to push the car into my parking space.

I called the restaurant to bring this to their notice since this had obviously happened there. I spoke to someone called Vinod who assured me he would check out who had parked my car and get back to me within 5 minutes. He didn’t. When I tried calling them, they wouldn’t answer.

 When the manager did call back and I had to narrate the whole incident again to him, he washed his hands clean off the matter and merely said that since I didn’t notice the issue at his premises, it wasn’t his responsibility.

My experience at Yogahouse in Bandra
“I was at Yogahouse in Bandra and my car just needed to be moved 50meters from where I had parked to the other side of the road. I handed over the key to valet.

Only when I reached home did I realize that my pouch from which I had used my eye pencil just moments before getting out of the car to get into Yogahouse was missing. I know because when I reached my society parking lot I looked for the pouch so I could put it back in the bag and proceed towards home. It had 2 eye pencils, a gloss, a pen and a pendrive, including the cost of the pouch it was easily worth INR. 3000/-

Such lovely people at Yogahouse and I still had a bad experience.
The wife/girlfriend/sister of the valet guy must have been mighty pleased that evening.
No I did not bother calling Yogahouse”

A friend’s experience at one of the fancy South Bombay restaurants
Just 2 days later a friend told me about his brand new cologne being stolen from the car’s glove compartment. When he called the fancy restaurant they said, “Sir, we outsource valet services to a 3rd party and so have little control on the quality of people.” He did not shrug it off by explicitly saying it isn’t the restaurants responsibility but hey what else are you saying by giving me the 3rd party story?

My experience at Hypercity in Malad
A man with parking tags and a pen takes a note of the existing scratches on my car lest I come back and blame their valet for damage to my car. They just turned the tables with respect to trust. The car owner is supposed to trust you with their car, instead Hypercity valet is suggesting the car owner cannot be trusted. Hillarious!

My experience at PVR Cinema Juhu
If you have ever decided to go down to the parking lot of PVR Juhu yourself instead of waiting forever for valet to bring your car amongst those of the other 200 people who watched the movie with you, you are likely to have witnessed the mini Formula 1 spectacle of the fanciest of cars by our very own valet drivers.

The question here is HOW ON EARTH does what happen at a crucial point in the customer experience journey not be the responsibility of the business? Going by the situation today great valet services can potentially become the differentiator for a business.

2 comments on “how important is valet parking service in the customer experience journey

  1. Rahul Kulkarni
    April 29, 2013

    For sure it has to be the responsibility of the business. I have carefully listened to a “Consumer Court’s” case study aired on radio. The court ordered a Hotel Management to pay the car owner who’s car was stolen after the valet parked it. Even the tags they provide us, has the logo of the business. Legalities apart, as you rightly put; it’s a crucial point in the customer Journey. After al as a customer, my journey at the restaurant begins with the valet and ends with him, too. I certainly prefer peace of mind by going to my favourite restaurant which also has trust worthy valet.

  2. Pallavi Nayak
    April 29, 2013

    It is crucial that establishments take Valet Service seriously, especially in a parking unfriendly city like Mumbai where people choose to go to retail outlets and eateries depending on weather they do or don’t have parking or valet service. My retail experience starts from the time I fret or do not fret about parking availability and that thinking starts from home. So valet service or parking availability is very crucial.

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