Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall is a world famous magnet for surfers. Yet a hidden danger with a shark’s bite lurks on arrival for the unsuspecting visitor, particularly foreigners. The car park is run by a ruthless management, Britanic Industries and its’ operator, Smart Parking, with zero interest for the visitor experience and for the express purpose of making hundreds of thousands in car parking penalties. In the height of season the local Town Council receives 40 complaints for unfair practices and doubtless 100s of people are ripped off daily. Visit Britain, the UK’s marketing arm has invested millions behind its’ “GREAT BRITAIN” campaign, yet the experience at Fistral Beach is designed to encourage a “HATE BRITAIN” thought in the mind of visitors.
The management of the large car park, Smart Parking, provide a perfect experience where the use of high technology enables a low touch customer experience. Reliant on camera sensors and nothing else, they keep electronic records of entry and exit to the car park. They daily fine innocent families, who are unable to find a car parking space in this half mile square beach, gather their beach equipment, walk 800 yards to the sole parking meter and have the right payment within 10 minutes. They rely on signs that don’t make clear payment is due from the time your car passed the entry sensor to the time you return to the car, pack up and physically pass the exit sensor, which can be half a mile from the place you are parked. They then issue penalty charge notices upto 16 days after the event, by which time you have no doubt destroyed the parking ticket if you have paid by cash. If you seek to Appeal, wait you are in for a 6 month determination of whether your claim is legitimate. You will receive the plaintiff, Smart Parking’s boilerplate template 24 page document, usually copied and pasted with hundreds of factual errors. It is death by a hundred shark bites.
If you think that this is a great way to encourage first time visitors, build tourism revenues and attract investment into a town, which outside of the holiday season has a number of severe social and economic issues, you are deluded. However that is precisely what the idiotic management of Britanic Industries, the leaseholder, think makes sense. Their decision-making process is flawed. The Newquay Town Council are impotent. Indeed the Mayor won’t even respond to written offers of help with smarter parking ideas.
Technology is a powerful enabler when it is used effectively to enable a higher touch customer experience (Uber, Amazon and Spotify). Equally, when it is used poorly it can have serious and catastrophic consequences.
Does your organisation’s decision-making process give sufficient thought to the desired outcomes, the benefits and risks of technology and the appropriate course of action? Does it solely look from your firm’s perspective or that of its’ customers? Fistral Beach has shown what happens when the sharks are left to run riot with technology and the lifeguard is asleep.
© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.