Delivering at the Speed of Trust
September 21, 2020
This month, I’m thinking about trust, and the role it plays in our daily business and personal lives. Our industry’s ability to thrive in these difficult times, especially as we cross the chasm of digital transformation, depends on it.
Trust gives relationships resilience, removes friction, and accelerates time to value. When two people or two companies trust each other, that trust can be a force multiplier as it extends to others. I’ll give a personal example, then illuminate how the parking industry is uniquely positioned to use trust as an accelerant to transform the parking industry.
Let’s do a little mortgage banking. Mortgage rates are at historic lows, and the vast number of mortgage brokers to choose from is dizzying. I saw an opportunity to refinance my house, so I turned to Parker’s CFO, Brian Modiano, otherwise known as “Mo,” for his help in finding a broker. He handed me off warm to his “guy,” Bill. Bill was responsive, but the process became cumbersome when the home appraisal was held up by red tape.
Three weeks went by, and I was about to pull the plug, when the paperwork was finally approved. During those three weeks, I came to appreciate how much I was relying on my trust in Mo, who referred me to Bill, rather than in Bill alone.
You see, I stuck with the process, and ultimately paid whatever fees Bill charged (within reason), because I trust Mo. When I think about applying that logic to the parking industry, I think we’ve got a superpower that we aren’t fully utilizing. This superpower has a name. It’s called the transitive property, and we have to go all the way back to fourth grade math to jog your memory.
I remember, like it was yesterday, learning the transitive property for the first time in math class with Mr. Brueck. For those that need a little refresher, the transitive property states “If A=B and B=C, then A=C.” This theory has serious implications on my ability to trust a third party whom I don’t know. As my mortgage example shows, it wasn’t just the referral that mattered, it was the resilience and staying power offered by my trust in Mo, which extended to Bill. Because I was referred by someone I trust, that third party gained the same trust by association.
This brings me back to our collective superpower as an industry. Our parking community is relatively small, but very close. It’s easy to see how tightly knit the community is. I would argue it is these relationships, and the trust we have for one another, that will propel our industry into the digital age. We must be more intentional about leveraging the trust we have across the industry to accelerate the changes our customers are demanding.
What’s that? You think you’ve already gotten ahead of yourself with trust, and you feel vulnerable? I think we can, and should, do more. Listen, the level of trust I’m suggesting we place in each other should be on par with what we all heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci back in January when he said, “If you think you’re doing too much, you’re probably doing just about enough,” regarding precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The ways we can trust each other more fit into two very broad categories: 1) “sharing what you know” and 2) “letting someone else do it.” Let’s start with sharing what you know. If we’re going to be successful, we must share what we know: both what’s in our heads, and what’s in our systems. We need to become one giant open ecosystem of communication and transparency, so that critical information is shared throughout the customer journey. To deliver a seamless experience, information must be seen by the customer, and the systems that interact with the customer. For some, this is old news, as they’ve been asking for this level of transparency for many years. For others, look back to Dr. Fauci – if you think you’re doing enough, it’s probably not enough.
As a business, it’s difficult to have a solution that fits every need, or covers the spectrum of parking needs, from end-to-end. On the other hand, if we are truly going to deliver a seamless and frictionless experience for our parking customers, we will need to rely on the knowledge, skills and capabilities of multiple companies. Trust between us is the glue that will bind our relationships and create the seamlessness our customers are demanding.
Which brings me to “letting someone else do it.” If we were to map the customer journey from home, to parking facility, to true destination, and back again, that parking customer touches many different systems. Because the industry is fragmented, the chances of one company owning all of those touchpoints is small. This means we must be willing to concede we can’t do it all, open our systems up, and be willing to trust each other to deliver on our end of the bargain for the customers’ benefit.
That’s just one of the reasons we are completely rewriting our software platform to migrate from a closed to an open system and enable connectivity between all of the touchpoints a customer will navigate to complete their parking experience. Openness like this wasn’t necessary five years ago, but the digital transformation today makes it critical. How can we know it’s the right thing to do? Because the transitive property tells us that if you trust me, you can trust those with whom I’m connected.
The good news is, much of this is happening right now. In shining a light on it this month, I propose that there is much more to be done. I suggest that the relationships we take such pride in can be leveraged to get us there faster. The foundation is there, trust has already been established, and by demonstrating authentic concern for each other and our customers, we will take this industry to the next level…together.