By Julie Scott
In the business world, reputation is everything. Large corporations spend billions of dollars on public-relations firms to enhance, and sometimes defend, their public standing. Reputation is critical to a self-storage business, too. A couple of bad Yelp or Google+ reviews, or a few disparaging comments in an online blog or on Angie’s List, can severely damage or cripple the facility's success.
We found a great way to help us understand the reputation of our business, City Center Self Storage in Pittsburgh. First, I consolidated our online reviews from websites such as SpareFoot.com, Yelp and eMove to see what people were saying about us and how we can continue to provide first-rate customer service. Then I entered them all into a tool called Wordle and created a “word cloud.”
Think of it as a visual representation of your reputation. It’s really easy to create. All you have to do is cut and paste your online reviews into their Web application. The larger the font size, the more often the word occurred. As you can see from the graphic, the most commonly used words to describe our facility include helpful, service, recommend, great and excellent.
I found another self-storage business with not-so-stellar reviews and put its online reviews into Wordle, too. Which words jump out? Scammed, bad, frustrating, rodents and annoying.
Providing great service isn’t the result of what we learned at a seminar or from working at other self-storage facilities. In fact, we’ve only been in business for a year. So how did we manage to jump into self-storage and impress people to the point that they took the time to write about their experience with us? What motivated the customers who liked us so much that they even left a video testimonial?
I believe the most important reason we’re able to keep our tenants happy is we care. Moving is stressful. Life situations that lead people to store items are sometimes a result of a positive change, but just as often it's the opposite. People’s lives are occasionally turned upside down, and we do whatever we can to help them and make the process go smoothly. Whether it’s providing a moving van or sharing other self-storage options in our "Pittsburgh Storage Price and Value Report," which lists facilities, features and prices, we take time to explain every step and listen to their needs. Remember: Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
We also ask our customers for suggestions and feedback and treat them honestly and fairly. If something doesn’t go right, we take responsibility, offer a sincere apology and do everything we can to make it up to them.
We believe in our Pittsburgh self-storage business and are proud of it. It shows in our attitude, our online reputation and, most important, in the words of our customers.
Julie Scott has been a part-time employee at City Center Self Storage for approximately eight months. She’s a full-time copy editor for many publications in the Pittsburgh area. To reach her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.citycenterselfstorage.com .