As a self-storage owner/manager, your approach to customer service can make the difference between securing a rental or losing a customer to a competitor. However, in today’s environment, self-storage tenants demand even more. To win them over, you must create the ultimate customer experience.
Prospects visiting your property are generally there for one of a few very specific reasons: to rent a unit, buy packing supplies, pay a bill, or discuss a rental-related issue. Your job is to make these tasks as easy as possible by removing barriers, obstacles, and complications. Therefore, your service approach is vital.
Customer service is all about the interactions you and your employees have with potential and current tenants in person, over the phone, and via e-mail, text, or other online channels. It always involves human interaction. The customer experience includes every way and place a person interacts with your business, even when there’s no person involved.
Today, the customer experience requires more wow factor thanks to an evolving market filled with creative websites, social media, online reviews, mobile apps, and other technology (see our recent blog, “Technology – What You Need for Your Self-Storage Business”). The self-storage customer experience consists of everything from finding and renting a unit online to entering the gate to opening the unit door. There are many opportunities for it to go right, and as many opportunities for it to go wrong.
Following are easy ways to elevate the customer experience and better connect with prospects and tenants to help grow your business.
It’s absolutely imperative that any customer-facing staff represent your self-storage operation properly. The right facility manager has enthusiasm, energy, and integrity. He/she must have a positive, can-do attitude and a customer-centric mindset.
A friendly face goes a long way for customer service. Give your current and potential customers a warm greeting when they get in touch to make a great first impression and solidify a reputation for positivity with each interaction.
If a prospect shows up at the front door, come running. Make sure you’re always accessible, no matter where you may be on the property. If a customer knows you’re dropping everything to help him/her, he’ll appreciate the level of service you provide.
Remember, first impressions are vitally important, so greet everyone with a smile and kind words. Here are some other things you can do:
Every customer has their own preference for communication. Your customer service should offer several lines of communication, including email, texts, online chats, and phone service, so anyone can get in touch the way they feel most comfortable. Willingness to meet lessees halfway is a valuable trait for any customer service team.
Having a personal connection with you directly, at their local facility, will bolster customers’ confidence in your business. Customers appreciate when businesses treat them like real people rather than numbers adding to their bottom line. Take the time to learn your customers’ names and a little bit about them. If your customers feel at home, they’ll keep coming back Additional tips to consider:
Be open to not only phone calls and in-store visits, but to emails and other forms of communication. Customers may send questions or requests via text, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, or any number of similar platforms. If you aren’t prepared to engage in online chat with them, but your competitor is, guess who will win the rental? Additional tips to consider:
Stay in touch with existing customers as well as prospects and former tenants. In times of uncertainty, it’s especially important to be reassuring. Thank them for their business and let them know you’re thinking of them, without trying to sell them anything.
Give tenants the option to opt-in for text messages. Send e-mails containing news, announcements, and other important information. Don’t hassle or upsell; just tell them about the necessary stuff like holiday office hours, discount coupons for loyal tenants, and digital copies of lease and insurance documents.
Additional tips to consider:
Review your facility as a whole. Your company needs a logo and color scheme that’s universal from store to website to social media platforms to print materials. Your business name should be consistent everywhere it appears. If you rebranded an existing facility, look for any places where the old name and logo still exist, as this will confuse customers. Keep your logo and colors uniform so people always know they’re in the right place.
One of the biggest assets for a positive customer experience is your website. Your website should be easy to find and use. If images take several seconds to load or your platform isn’t mobile-friendly, it will have a negative effect on prospects and customers.
Content for your web presence is the single most important thing for search engine optimization and for prospects and customers to be able to quickly find your business. This includes your blog posts, social media, landing pages, FAQ pages, video, and everything else that relates to your business and lives online.
Other helpful technology that will improve the customer experience includes any automation you use, security and access tools, digital signage, and property-management software that facilitates online rentals and autopay. Remember, customers expect technology that’s easy to use, available around the clock, nice to look at, and engaging.
Creating a positive customer experience starts by listening attentively. This means thoroughly absorbing, understanding, responding, and retaining what is being said. While sales are central to any business, listening to a prospect’s specific needs and providing customized solutions is paramount for gaining and retaining a customer.
Practice asking questions that will give you more marketing insights and improve the customer experience, such as:
The reason a customer chooses or needs to store his belongings isn’t always pleasant. It could be caused by circumstances such as divorce, job loss, eviction, or the death of a loved one. While offering sympathy might be the first, instinctive response, being empathetic is what will stick in a tenant’s mind long after the moment. Try to remember what it’s like to experience a break-up; what it would feel like if your spouse lost his job, or a grandparent passed away.
Does your facility offer coffee and tea, or chilled water for customers? How about free Wi-Fi to help them while they’re between houses (and internet providers)? Other value-added services could include:
One of the ultimate ways to create the ultimate customer experience is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Is your company easy to find online and what information is available? Is your website easy to read and use? Is all content up to date? Walk through the experience of renting a unit, visiting the site, and accessing the unit. Was anything surprising? Confusing? Alarming? Go about this drill as if you’re someone who knows nothing about the industry and see how easy it is to navigate the process of looking for, renting, and using self-storage.
The connection you make with customers by using these strategies and how you go about fulfilling their needs is ultimately what will make your customer’s experience a pleasant one and help with retention and referrals in the future.