On January 16, ParkMobile CMO, Jeff Perkins, presented a new webinar, “The Future of Smart Parking and Mobility,” in partnership with the National Parking Association. See below for the five key takeaways from the session. You can sign up here to watch an on-demand replay of the full webinar.

Consumers Today Have Higher Expectations and Less Patience

When it comes to the products and services they interface with, consumers have increasingly high expectations and a dwindling level of patience for less-than-satisfactory experiences.

  • 64% of consumers say their standards for good experiences are higher than ever.
  • 52% say that most companies fall short of their expectations for great experiences.
  • 62% have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.
  • 62%  say they share bad experiences with others.

*Source: Salesforce Research: Customer Expectations Hit All-Time Highs

A customer’s first experience with your brand can make or break the potential for an ongoing relationship. When a customer has a bad experience, not only are you losing this customer to a competitor, but you’re also having to spend time apologizing and defending yourself to avoid that customer from tarnishing your reputation online.

New Technologies Are Changing Consumer Behaviors

Once new technology is adopted, it becomes part of the way consumers operate. Look at Uber. Even after their first time using the app, consumers were already done taking taxis. On-demand ride-hailing disrupted the industry as we knew it, and it only took one good experience to convince consumers to adopt a new normal. It’s not just cars, either. Mobile-operated bike-sharing and scooter-sharing technologies are now a hot commodity in major cities around the country.

The other interesting piece of this movement is who’s behind it. It’s not only young, urban hipsters adopting these technologies. 38% of ParkMobile users are over 50 years old. If technology provides convenience and reduces friction in the process, people are going to catch on.

Mobile Apps are Improving the Parking Experience

Providing a positive experience from a parking perspective has its challenges. When we asked consumers the one word they would use to describe parking, their responses were mostly negative – “annoying,” “expensive,” “frustrating,” and “stressful.” As parking providers, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doing our job poorly. The parking industry is highly fragmented in regard to infrastructure and technology, making it harder to create a seamless experience for on-the-go customers.

To combat these innate challenges, ParkMobile is focused on creating a solution that reduces friction in the process. Mobile parking apps are still new for consumers. 76% of our customers have been using a parking app for less than two years. However, once a customer uses the app, it quickly becomes their preferred method of paying for parking over other methods, such as using a credit card at a kiosk or paying an attendant. ParkMobile now has 12 million users, which proves that mobile parking apps are gaining significant traction in the market.

The Emergence of the Connected Car Creates More Opportunity for Parking

The car is becoming a larger part of the interconnected, mobile experience. Gartner predicts the number of mobile or web-connected vehicles will more than double to 255 million by 2020, and Juniper Research forecasts 8.2 billion connected car transactions and $265 billion in spending by 2023. ParkMobile is now available in the center display units of all new model BMWs, and there are other players entering the market as well – all with the goal of reducing friction in the process for the consumer by integrating parking technology with the car.

Naturally, there are some challenges with both integrating and marketing parking technology in cars. Car dealers aren’t software people, and there are a lot of challenges around standardization that works with every car when partnering with different OEMs. However, new research proves the demand for these kinds of options, and providers are working toward making these technologies readily available and accessible to users.

Only 15% of people have tried paying for parking from their center display. Of the 85% that haven’t, 70% find the capability interesting. “By integrating the app and the center display of the car, paying for parking becomes automated and seamless, and this kind of flexibility saves time,” says one consumer. For parking reservations, over 80% are interested in an in-car integration. If we’re going to take these in-car capabilities even further, we then allow consumers to procure services, like car washes and oil changes, to be performed while the car is at rest.

The Parking Technology Landscape is Evolving and Operators Need to be Prepared

These changes are transforming the parking industry from being merely transactional. Rather than having one-time customers, we now gain recurring customers. Rather than having one revenue stream, we now have multiple. We’re building relationships with the customer, differentiating the operation, and gaining rich data. This data then turns into constructive insights that help us ensure our customers come back. There’s an interesting, dynamic shift ahead of us, where the parking operation of the future is a place where you park and get serviced.

While these capabilities aren’t currently available, the technology exists to make it a reality. Parking as we know it today could evolve into “PaaS – Parking as a Service.” The industry is slowly moving towards an integrated parking solution that brings the car, the app, and the operator together. While change will be incremental, companies should be thinking about and preparing for this kind of future so that they don’t get left behind. The garage of the future can be a both a parking and service provider to the driver and the automobile, and operators should explore technology partnerships that will help get them ahead.