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Customer-Service Savvy for Self-Storage

Dianna Tuttle and M. Anne Ballard Comments
Continued from page 1

Teach everyone on your team to document everything so if they make a good business decision, they can show why and how they arrived at the result and can stand behind it with all the details necessary to provide the whole picture even months later. Nothing questionable is the goal. Good managers and staff members should take responsibility for company shortcomings without pointing fingers about who is or is not at fault; pointing fingers solves nothing and will undoubtedly annoy an already irate customer even further.

When managers practice this customer service tool and accept responsibly, they begin to disarm the customer. By disarming the customer, you get his full attention in a positive light. Even a less than honest customer will take a step back and really listen to what you have to say. Remember, you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution; be the solution!

Let the customer vent. If necessary, make sure you invite him to a more private part of the office or step outside if other tenants are present. Once he has stated the problem, repeat it back to him to make sure you clearly understand what he is saying. Sometimes hearing what he said repeated back is all it takes.

Objections come in two forms: those you can do something about and those you cannot. If the customer doesn’t want the sun to shine on his unit door, this is not something you can change; however, you might be able to transfer him to another unit on the north side of the building that gets no sun.

Some managers fear that if they give one customer everything he wants, all customers will want the same. The fact is there are very few people whose mission is to “beat the system.” When managers focus on these types of customers and put systems into place for them they undoubtedly will insult those customers who do not fall into this category. Do not forget the power of word-of-mouth advertising—it can make or break your business.

Hiring and Training

Hiring the right type of manager is paramount when it comes to customer service. Not everyone is cut out to work with the public. The best prospects for these positions are people who have the heart of a servant, or pleaser-type personality. If you hire employees with this skill set, they can be trained for the rest of the business. Without the right type of people in these positions, it can cost the company a great deal of time, effort and money. Hire for attitude, and train for skill is the lesson here. You cannot give or train someone to have a positive outlook and good attitude.

Let’s pretend we have a disgruntled customer who wants to purchase 25 packing boxes but you only have 10 in stock due to a delay by the distributor. To diffuse the situation and move forward, first, take responsibility by saying, “I’m sorry that I have so few boxes.” Second, don’t point the finger; in other words, do not say, “Well, our distribution center has not delivered them yet.” Third, put the customer in control by asking, “How long will it take you to fill the 10 boxes we do have available?” Fourth, under-promise and over-deliver: Go to a sister store, if available, or even a competitor and purchase the boxes, then deliver the other 15 boxes to the customer personally. Include an additional few boxes, and a couple of rolls of tape or a marking pen. That’s the way to create legendary customer experiences.

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