Bill Lerner On Providing a ‘Customer First’ Parking Experience

With commercial environments now more intensely competitive than ever, a company’s success and resilience are intrinsically tied to its ability to provide great customer service to an increasingly-informed consumer population with high standards. As President and CEO of New York’s largest privately-owned parking garage enterprise—iPark, Bill Lerner maintains the maxim of ‘going the extra mile’ for clients whether through attentive front-line staff or with the implementation of technological trends designed to improve and facilitate transactions. This focus on high-level, responsive service channels has enabled his company to sustain impressive growth from a single 25-car lot in 1960 to a footprint of close to 150 facilities today.

An insightful article produced by CRM software firm Kayako identifies two key, consistent aspects of customer service, which are that the consumer wants ‘effortless interactions’ and ‘more personable experiences’. Trends in clientele management can arguably be traced back 150,000 years when systems of trade and barter were established during humankind’s prehistory and historians note the first documented customer complaint in the form of a clay tablet dating to 1500BC which details a purchaser’s grievance to a seller regarding a delayed and damaged shipment of copper ore. Following the invention of the telephone in 1876 and the establishment of the first call centres in the 1960s (structured as Private Automated Business Exchanges and enhanced by the introduction of toll-free 1-800 numbers), business-client relationships are now defined by technologically-advanced multichannel communication streams – a far cry from clay-engraved, foot-delivered complaints.

In a candid discussion with industry publication ParkingExec Bill Lerner describes iPark’s patrons as a ‘lifeline’ and despite being an admittedly ‘rudimentary’ business they are dedicated to a consumer-centric and forward-thinking operational model. Always an innovator, he has adapted current technology trends to better serve users with the incorporation of electric-vehicle charging stations into many of his facilities and a streamlined online booking system, complete with a live, digital assistant chat module—a pioneering step amongst major parking operators. A article (‘Ten Customer Service and Customer Experience Trends for 2017’) echoes the importance of such a move, emphasizing the productivity of AI and Chatbots and the value of providing proactive, personalised and convenient service. Well-aware of the multifaceted approach to service delivery, Lerner cultivates low staff turnover rates to ensure his workforce is well-trained and familiar to clients.

When he’s not busy applying his 40+ years of entrepreneurial acumen to the continued success of the business his father founded, Bill Lerner is a dedicated family-man (husband and father of three) and philanthropist. His non-profit Billy4Kids, founded in 2013 with a mandate to preventing soil-transmitted parasitic infections, has provided thousands of shoes to children in impoverished countries in order to shield them from debilitating illness, earning Lerner a Humanitarian award at the Annual Edyeyo Gives Hope Gala. He regularly contributes to media sources such as 33Voices, Radio America, Leaders Magazine and The Atlantic.

Industry Insights From iPark CEO Bill Lerner – ParkingExec: