Parking & Mobility magazine, October 2020

Page 50

/ IPMI IN ACTION / COMMUNICATION

The Email Model That Transfers to Your Organization By Matt Penney, CAPP

“Y

ou should apply for that job at Baylor.” It’s not entirely uncommon for my wife’s suggestions to echo down rooms in our house. Usually, the requests revolve around the kids, the dog or an item that needs my attention. Applying for a new job, the suggestion of a move—these words floating through the house carried more weight than the normal conversations.

Shifting to Email The field supervisor was pulled out of the “field” and into the office. Both counter interactions and phone calls required that a single employee engage with a single customer. We needed to find a way to do business differently. Baylor’s solution was to focus on email communication. Those who emailed were more satisfied with a reply within the business day (or the next day), and this subtle but significant time gap provided the breathing room our team needed.

There were several positives about shifting to email, first of which was a reduction in schemers (liars) who might waste our time for 45 minutes in our lobby but were extremely hesitant to commit their story into a written format. Staff were shielded from hostile and sarcastic comments. There seemed to be a comfort, a separation, in receiving and replying from the non-personal departmental email account. Obviously, not all email interactions are simple. Unlike verbal interactions, individuals were able to invite a wide audience to participate by CCing them into the conversation. The written format also left a more obvious trail when you might desire to sidestep a specific topic or question. These more difficult emails were my responsibility. What developed next may not have been intentional but was an offshoot of my personal thought process. I was responding to multiple very similar

48 PARKING & MOBILITY / OCTOBER 2020 / PARKING-MOBILITY.ORG

situations and wanted a system, a strategy to approach all of the correspondence. I replied to hundreds of emails each semester. There were victories that made me feel like a New York Times bestselling author. There were mistakes that reminded me I struggled in high school English. Rabbit holes were everywhere. Mentally, notes were made on each success and failure (it’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it).

There were patterns and lessons—five of them. 1. Quick responses are emotional responses. Whether from frontline staff, me, or the customer, quick responses were emotional in nature. Occasionally it was a jubilant, all caps “THANK YOU!” More frequently, the emotional sentiments were just as direct but sometimes less appropriate for this article. A silly goal developed: To engage an individual in such a way that it

SHUTTERSTOCK / NEPOOL

I was happy with my job and grimaced at the challenges of moving with two small kids in tow. My wife thought this director of parking opportunity at Baylor was worth a look. Happy wife, happy life. That was a little more than 10 years ago now. Baylor called. I liked what I saw in the opportunity and they saw potential in me. The rest is what they call history. One thing about my wife: She has great intuition. Even with a decade in managing public transportation, I was unprepared for the drama related to placing four tires between two yellow lines. Baylor University is a campus with approximately 16,000 students. Once you include faculty, staff, visitors, and assorted contractors, there are essentially 20,000 individuals with some interest in parking on campus. Parking Services had one administrative assistant who attended to all frontline parking contacts. That’s a ratio of … well … 20,000 to one.


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