By Chuck Gordon
So you’ve listed your self-storage facility on all the premier local search-listing websites and social-media profiles. Your business is soaring with the Internet under its wings. Then you discover a customer has posted a scathing review of your facility online. Suddenly, being visible in the social universe doesn’t seem like such a great idea.
Don’t falter. The Internet is here to help you connect with customers. This negative situation actually presents an opportunity to showcase positive customer service.
Assess the Complaint
The first course of action in dealing with any type of customer complaint is to be receptive. After all, you’re in the business of pleasing customers, and understanding them is essential to fulfilling their needs. This holds especially true when handling a negative comment.
Read the complaint thoroughly, watching for specific concerns that can easily be addressed. Then make sure the reviewer has all of his facts straight. If someone complained that the cabin of your moving truck lacked seat warmers and an espresso machine when those features were never advertised, you can politely clarify that all you ever claimed to offer by way of in-cabin entertainment is an FM radio.
Joking aside, try to gauge the customer’s mindset. Is he looking for reparations for a bad experience or just raging to snag attention? If your situation looks more like the latter, it might be best to let it sit. Everybody can recognize a crazy person in a public forum, so his opinions will rarely carry much weight. That said, it’s equally important to keep your cool as well.
Presenting Your Response
Platforms like Yelp, Facebook and Google Places provide businesses the opportunity to publicly respond to reviews. Make the most of this. A polite, genuine, public response puts readers at ease and may encourage potential tenants to give your business a chance. Frankly, it’s free advertising for your ability to be flexible and provide excellent customer service.
Transparency is now a familiar concept in the business world. You understand that consumers demand accountability in dealing with any company, and this should translate easily into your response. Be honest, addressing the specific issues mentioned in the review and stating how you plan to make good.
Don’t forget you also have a good number of satisfied customers who deserve just as much attention. If someone gave you a five-out-of-five star rating, reply with a simple thank you and welcome him to come back any time. Assuming all goes according to plan, your facility should come out looking stronger than ever.
Getting lots of reviews from your self-storage customers isn’t just a good method of building relationships, it’s also one of the most effective ways to garner your presence on the Internet. Remind and encourage happy former and current customers to leave you reviews online. When it comes to negative reviews, don’t get upset—treat them as customer-service opportunities. Respond calmly and constructively whenever possible, and show your customers what a true professional you can be.
Chuck Gordon is the CEO and cofounder of SpareFoot.com, an online self-storage marketplace. SpareFoot offers a suite of Web marketing tools including ad listings on its 50-plus partner sites, a facility website builder and local-search solutions. For more information, call 202.257.2111; visit www.sparefoot.com .