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POINT OF VIEW Death of Business Cards


‘Repeat Business,’ A Color Change,


By John Van Horn


I was rummaging around the parking blogosphere last month and ran across a post by IPI Board Chairman Casey Jones, head of parking services at Boise (ID) State University. He was commenting on how necessary it is to interact positively with parking’s customers in the university setting to “earn their repeat business.” I thought this was an enlightened approach coming from a university transportation and parking manager, actually calling his parkers “customers” and looking for “repeat business.” Too often we forget just what we are doing and who our customers are. Often those in the public sectors particularly look at parking through the eyes of enforcement or protecting an asset. They forget that they have customers, and those are the folks who actually use the asset they are protecting. It’s more difficult, it seems to me, to look at customers in the university setting, and earning repeat business because most of the parkers have little alternative. If you want to park on campus, you use the parking department’s product. Often that product is in short supply, and little concern need be taken over earning repeat


thought of the event. Her brow furrowed, she paused to select just the right words in an unfamiliar tongue and then she said: “They all have the same parking machines, they just change


the color, no?” I wonder if certain designers in Germany, the UK, France, Switzerland, Japan, Austria and the rest are starting to rethink


their career choices. •••


A major story in the LA Times quotes “young and Web- savvy” business people as hating business cards and noting that they are not as popular as they have been in the past. What with smartphones, iPads, tablets, and the rest, and with


“They all have the same parking machines, they just change the color, no?”


business. If one customer is lost, another is right there to take his or her place. Granted, university programs strive to be user-friendly,


as they have a lot of pressure from on high to keep complaints to a minimum, which is a difficult task in itself. Most operations see repeat business as the easiest customer to get. If you have them once, and do a good job, they will come back. Many businesses rest their future and growth on their reputation. Can you say Nordstrom? I think Casey brings up a good point, and we need to consider always that we are in a customer-centric business and that our goal is providing a quality product and excellent service. That way, we will get our repeat business whether they are forced to use us or not.


••• I was fortunate to have some help in the PT booth at


Intertraffic Amsterdam 2012 in late March. Scarlett Schneider, nee Ambroziak, a cousin of PT contributor Astrid and a PT Facebook denizen, volunteered to spend a long weekend in Amsterdam with her husband, Michel, and help out for a couple of days. So the two flew in from Strasbourg, France, and Scarlett presented herself at PT’s service.


She had walked around the show passing out the magazine to the exhibitors, and when she returned, I asked her what she


6


communications being so easy with text and email, why do we need the little cards at all? Typically, after you copy the data into your address book, which is synced with your BlackBerry or iPhone, what happens to the bits of pasteboard? On my desk, they are stacked not so neatly “just in case.”


If I have been in any contact


with the person that I met at a business meeting, I most likely already have all their contact information. So why a business card?


In some business cultures, Asian for instance, they are


a requirement for meetings. The business card ceremony is quickly learned. Often cards are held, playing card like, in the order people are standing or sitting so one knows who is who. In Europe, the cards carry a person’s educational history, with a bevy of letters after the name. Business cards can get you past that awkward moment when first meeting someone. They help people like me who have a “visual” memory — I’m more likely to remember a name if I see it, rather than hear it. The passing and reading of business cards gives you a bit more information about a person — where they are from, their title, maybe even their academic prowess. A person may not introduce himself as “Doctor” So-In-So, but that “PhD” on the business card can carry some meaning. And if people with doctoral degrees don’t add “doctor” to their name when introducing themselves, that fact alone can tell much about their character.


Personally, I think it’s rude when you meet someone to hack away at your smartphone to get pertinent information. Writing a short aide-mémoire on the back of a business card is more elegant. Plus, reviewing the cards you find in your pocket at the end of a day can give added gravitas to an important meeting. The Times story talks about an app where smartphone Continued on Page 10


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