What Self-Storage Customers Really Want: It's Not Just Price
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
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Posted on: 02/05/2011



 

By Walt Zeglinski

Does your self-storage business have what it takes to win consistently in today’s market? Does it have a contingent of loyal customers? If you think the price of your products or services is why you’re attracting and maintaining tenants, think again. Today’s customers are savvy and want much more than low cost. 

Customers are looking for the unique value that comes from relationships. By learning to tap into this deeper level of emotional satisfaction, your business can increase its revenue with current customers and uncover a steady stream of new ones.

Are Your Customers Emotionally Satisfied?

You may have asked your customers if they were satisfied storing at your facility. But the true measure is if your customers are repeat customers and if they’re referring you to others. In an average customer poll, you may find that eight out of 10 customers were satisfied. That sounds great, but studies show that only four or five out of 10 will become repeat customers. Why? Because rational satisfaction is only part of the equation. Customers return when they are emotionally satisfied. Moreover, emotionally satisfied customers will also recommend your facility to others.

Here is the bottom line on measuring emotional satisfaction:

  • How many of your customers intend to store with you again?
  • How many of your customers would endorse your company to others?

Creating Exceptional Value

Exceptional value occurs when your customer perceives your product or service to be worth more to them than the price they pay. There are two components in any strategy for creating exceptional value with customers. The first is how well you’re communicating the unique value of your products and services as compared to alternatives. This is important and can result in a high level of rational satisfaction. However, it takes emotional satisfaction to develop a loyal customer. It’s the second strategic component—building deeper, trust-based relationships—that’s the key to emotionally satisfied customers. This happens when your employees understand your customers’ needs and deliver more than what’s expected.

Exceptional value stems from exceptional managers. Your staff is the “secret sauce” in your organization’s ability to deliver on its value promise. You have to hire and retain the right people to make it work. These employees are those who do not need management mandates to engage customers and adhere to company values. These employees are your customers’ problem-solvers. They provide the discretionary effort and intellectual capital that can take your customers from satisfied to loyal. Additionally, studies have shown that an increase of only 5 percent in customer loyalty can add from 25 percent to more than 100 percent to your bottom line.

Tapping the Emotional Fountain

Developing emotionally satisfied customers who enjoy value (beyond functional benefits) might seem like a pie-in-the-sky ideal, but there are several notable examples. Think about a Rolex watch and your reaction when you see one. Any watch can give you the time, but they’re not all Rolexes. What captivates us about a Rolex isn’t its function; it’s the prestige. Wearing a Rolex suggests more than your need to tell the time. It says you appreciate the finer things. It shows you have earned enough success to purchase one. It means you’re knowledgeable about the value of the craftsmanship and precision it represents.

That’s the connection you should seek to develop with your customers. You want to deliver more value than the functional benefits inherent in your product or service. You want your customers to experience the added value you bring to the relationship by being emotionally engaged throughout the buying process.

It Pays to Be Ethical

A recent USA Today poll revealed 72 percent of consumers will pay more to use the services and products of a company they perceive to be ethical. An easy example of this for consumer products is the higher prices consumers pay at eco-friendly stores such as Whole Foods Market. Another example is the movement of customers away from large banks that leave customers navigating though a labyrinth of automated phone systems to credit unions and community banks where a real person answers the phone.

These are examples of how the perception of ethical business practices can make a difference. It reflects the influence of emotionally satisfied customers. People feel better about themselves when they believe they’re dealing with an organization that cares about “doing the right thing.” 

By optimizing the behaviors that create value, you can successfully tap the emotional bonds within your customer relationships. The investment your company makes in aligning your people, processes and products with what loyal customers want and need, will enrich your core business and provide new opportunities to increase market share. If you stay engaged and stay ethical, you’ll transform your business.

Walt Zeglinski is the former CEO of Integrity Solutions and current managing partner for Vital Factors Inc., a training and consulting organization that helps its clients accelerate strategic execution. Zeglinski has almost 30 years of experience in applying his expertise to diagnose, plan and implement practical solutions for building customer-centric organizations. For more information, e-mail wzeglinski@vitalfactorsinc.com .