Alexandru bogdan, marketing director, baneasa shopping city, bucharest romania, presenting his thoughts on customer service.

Last month we talked about an incredible initiative by Baneasa shopping city, their “Underground Parking Project”. We were curious to know more from their team, about their vision behind this project and how they put this vision into practice.

Our curiosity was satisfied during our chat with Alexandru Bogdan, Baneasa Shopping City’s Marketing Director. He shared with us some key ideas and results of this project.

Q1:  What are the things your customers appreciate most and that make them coming back?

A1: From the beginning Baneasa Shopping City has been a landmark in the Romanian fashion and entertainment market by offering its customers a unique mix of brands that can satisfy even the most demanding desires. Therefore, the Baneasa Shopping City’s customer is an educated one, permanently willing to have access to the latest trends in fashion or technology, usually with a higher social status and/or income, which travels a lot experiencing various customer treatments around the world.

Therefore, we have a tough competition to beat and the battle front is wide open in order to make our customers appreciate us as their destination of choice. The ambient and atmosphere inside, the variety and premiumness of the brands, stores, services and collections etc. are all elements defining us and contributing to the customer choice, but above all, our demanding customers are valuing the employees professionalism as human interactions are critical for the overall perception.

Q2: What is the vision behind the service that Baneasa Shopping City deliver?

Our vision is to offer our customers’ unique experiences and services, elegant and subtle, that might not always have a striking effect from the moment of first access, but which will certainly be missed anywhere else.

Delivering this service vision is not as easy as it sounds and in this market we are facing two extra challenges:

  • As a society we do not have in Romania a services tradition and culture and each step of this vision requires to be taught to each and every member of the team.
  • Every interaction that the customer has within the space of Baneasa Shopping City (facilities, stores, restaurants etc.) is associated with an experience with the commercial center itself. Therefore delivering this vision requires engaging not only with the entire company, but also all our partners and stakeholders.

Q3:  How do you put this vision in practice?

I know that you initiate recently a Customer experience project for the underground parking space. Can you tell us more about this project? (objectives, concept, messages etc.)

This vision becomes a reality one step at the time with each new service or product implementation. We pay close attention to the customer voice and we fully evaluate his journey in order to improve his overall experience. Regardless of the area – whether it’s site or app screen, an operational or communication process- if we identify a topic affecting the customer satisfaction, our commitment is to take immediate action to correct it.

The parking signage is such an example in which we have acknowledged that the experience we were offering was not meeting our service standards. Thus we have initiated a project on the topic and the first stage has been the root-cause analysis which showed us that:

  • The parking signage was confusing and difficult to understand for the customer – a unique message saying “Attention! Wheels are blocked in case of incorrect parking. ” without any clear guidance
  • Therefore customers where receiving fines for incorrect parking
  • These fines were generating complains in our customer care
  • The parking color scarcity with the dominant grey also affected the perception and mood of the customers
  • Families or pregnant women, an important share of our audience didn’t have special places to facilitate shopping center access
  • Based on these findings, we established our objectives:
  • Provide an enjoyable, simple, fast and effortless parking experience
  • Seize the opportunity to create an emotional connection with customers, as a competitive differentiator
  • Educate customers for correct parking in-between marked areas

The concept was born naturally from our positioning – “The City of Good Life” and the “Betterment” trend centered on self-improvement, well-being and exploratory experiences – together they formed the “The Parking of Good Life”.  The concept materialized as:

  • colorful markings and panels with motivational messages
  • a rebranding of parking areas with motivational verbs derived from the “betterment” trend: Act, Believe, Connect, Discover, Enjoy, Feel, Know, Join, Mix & Match, Live, Notice, Play, Smile, Taste.
  • ambient visuals and word games linked to auto vocabulary and good life like: “Access the shortest route towards fun & fashion”, “Follow your style and you have every chance to become a trendsetter”, “Forget your GPS and discover new routes”, in order to create the emotional connection.
  • educational panels that emphasize the correct method of parking by using emotional messages (“It is ok to stand out, but not through your parking style. “), doubled by clear graphic illustration
  • new specialized parking spaces have been created and communicated through emotional message – “For a trendy look, the coolest accessory is politeness. Leave this space free for a future mother. “, “For a trendy look, the coolest accessory is politeness. Leave this space free for families with children.”
  • forbidden parking message has been used only in places not suited for parking.

Q4: Whereas the parking is the place where the customer takes the first contact with the shopping center, how important is the customer perception about the parking space? Can we consider that the parking is the entrance gate to superior service, to a delightful experience?

The parking is both the first and the last contact for our customer and since we are always considering the end to end journey, we are highly interested in their perception regarding this topic. We concentrated on creating value- efficiency, pleasant environment and sense of security, but we wanted to step up to the next level: to achieve an emotional connection with the Baneasa Shopping City brand, a differentiator that nicely completes a delightful shopping or entertainment experience

Q5: After initiating this project, what is the customer’s feedback about the underground parking?

Although it is really soon to fully evaluate the results of this initiative, the best feedback that we are receiving is the customers’ smile while noticing the changes. Furthermore, the 3 months aftermath shows us a drop of 60% YoY in complains related to the underground parking and a drop of 70% YOY in fines for incorrect parking. One can only assume that we are one step closer to the emotional and effortless experience that we constantly strive to provide.

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