As an introvert, I am the most comfortable at home with a thick, fluffy blanket and a good book. And maybe a donut. However, life requires me to occasionally abandon my favorite sweatpants and venture out into the real world for food (aka donuts) and other necessities (also donuts). Like everyone else, I have my favorite stores, restaurants, and businesses. Some are based on convenience and location while others are based on product selection and general customer experience.
The customer experience or journey starts as soon as you enter the parking lot and only ends after you leave the property. Everything from how the employees interacted with you to the cleanliness of the location are considered part of the customer experience. Companies spend hours perfecting and improving it. That’s why there are little surveys on the bottom of your receipts or your email is spammed with questions about your recent visit.
Have you ever thought how security fits into the customer experience? In retail settings, we tend to ignore most of the security measures—tags on clothing, cameras in the ceiling, etc. We’re used to them and they don’t overly restrict our shopping experience. However, what about at theme parks or stadiums where your bag is searched? That is still part of the customer experience even though it irritates the customers and delays them from reaching the main experience that is the park, the game, or the concert.
Security has a fine line to walk in the customer experience. They want to keep their visitors, employees, and property safe but they can’t have it so restrictive that it scares paying customers away. On the flip side, the security at a store or venue can’t be so soft that any potential bad actors or criminals can just waltz right in without any repercussions. So the question becomes—how to you have enough security to scare away the bad guys but not an excessive amount that scares legitimate customers? How do you make customers feel safe but not restricted?
A large part of this balance can be achieved in the parking lot. Yes, the parking lot. Everything and everyone that enters the store or business has to enter through the parking lot. This includes products, materials, customers, and criminals. It is the entry point for everything. It is where customers start and end their experience.
After speaking to a few LVT customers in retail, I realized just how much thought they put into their security, starting with the parking lots. Each retailer has stressed the importance of keeping bad actors out of their parking lots because if they aren’t on the lot, they aren’t in the store. Think of the parking lot as the first line of defense for any business. It is there that security personnel, asset protection, and loss prevention have the first shot at stopping any potential wrong doers.
Next is covering the how—how do you defend and secure a place that is typically wide open, doesn’t have walls, and doesn’t use locks or doors to control access? Furthermore, there are thousands upon thousands of dollars literally sitting in the open in the form of cars, merchandise, and other assets that take up space in the lot.
Traditionally, one of the best ways to secure a large lot without impeding actual customers, is to install security cameras. Cameras mounted on light poles and on the front of buildings helps collect evidence and may discourage some wrongdoing. However, people are so used to the traditional method that they are blind to the cameras on a pole. So how about trying something less traditional?
A security camera trailer is non-traditional but still provides the benefits of the cameras on the light poles. It still records and collects evidence and is relatively unobtrusive for legitimate customers, but it is also extremely visible. Bad guys can see it, understand it, and fear it almost instantly. On the flip side, customers are more comfortable because the trailer is there.
LiveView Technologies (LVT) specializes in parking lot security. We use mobile surveillance units to help businesses navigate how to secure their parking lots. Our security camera trailers use cellular connectivity and solar power to stay completely mobile so they can literally watch any section of the parking lot.
Our trailers are proven to reduce parking lot incidents by up to 70% and to decrease violent crime by 62%. Furthermore, our trailers don’t hurt the customer experience. In fact, customers like to park next to the units. Several LVT clients have moved the units to different areas of their parking lots only to find that customers follow it, parking as close as they can to the unit no matter where it’s at on the property.
To learn more, check out this webinar we did with the Loss Prevention Research Council about increasing security in the parking lot.