In Atlanta, customer service has become serious business, with the creation of a Customer Bill of Rights and a new survey where customers can offer their feedback on the city’s service quality. Now, the city is delving into another area of customer service that has been less than stellar in recent years. The city’s independent enforcement company hired to oversee public parking violations has been issued new operational demands. The changes are coming after the city received numerous complaints about the level of service provided by the company from both Atlanta residents and visitors to the city.
ParkAtlanta is a collaboration between Milwaukee-based Duncan Solutions and Atlanta’s Public Works Department that was initiated in 2009. According to the ParkAtlanta website, the initial purpose of the effort was to modernize parking in the city, making it more convenient and user-friendly. The program was established to bring technology into the public parking realm and create signage that is easy for customers to see and understand. The company is also responsible for the enforcement of parking regulations throughout Atlanta, which is where the majority of customer complaints have been centered.
New Contract, New Rules
As a new seven-year contract with ParkAtlanta is under consideration, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and his staff have seized the opportunity to make some changes in how the company does business with the city. In fact, 21 changes have been approved by the city’s transportation committee, in direct response to the ongoing complaints they have received from customers. The changes then went to the city council for approval, where they became an official part of the contract between ParkAtlanta and the city.
Changes to the way ParkAtlanta does business will include a number of factors that directly impact customer service. For example, the company is no longer able to issue parking violations in areas where signs had been removed or were blocked by landscaping or other obstacles. They will also be prohibited from issuing violations where meters are not operational. While steps are in place to replace aging and broken meters, the city acknowledges the updates may not be a priority at this time. However, drivers should not be penalized for the delay in that process, the city has said.
More Training, Faster Response Times
The contract changes also addressed some of the specific customer service issues that have plagued ParkAtlanta over the past four years. Employees of the company will now have to undergo additional training in service methods to ensure more consistency within the service department. ParkAtlanta will also be required to provide an online process for filing complaints and respond to those complaints within two business days. The city will also be notified of all complaints that are filed with ParkAtlanta, for monitoring purposes.
The contract changes are in place to provide the city with more control over the quality of service customers of ParkAtlanta receives. With a widespread effort to make Atlanta a friendlier, more service-oriented city, this new contract is just one more step in a larger effort to raise the bar on customer service across the city.