6 Ways Self-Storage Operators Can Combat Customer Rage

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By John Egan

Reprinted with permission from "The Storage Facilitator" blog.

A new study gives us a peek into the minds of angry customers, and the findings should be a wake-up call for self-storage businesses. Researchers say the “customer rage” study by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows that more American consumers than ever are just plain cranky. Here are several highlights from the study:

  • The number of U.S. households experiencing customer rage climbed from 60 percent in 2011 to 68 percent in 2013.
  • The number of people reporting customer problems jumped from 45 percent in 2011 to 50 percent in 2013.
  • Despite the rise of the Internet, people are 11 times more likely to complain over the phone than online.
  • Posting of customer complaints on social networking sites like Facebook nearly doubled from 2011 to 2013.
  • In 2013, most customers who complained (56 percent) said they got absolutely nothing as a result, up 9 percentage points from 2011.

When companies added free remedies, such as an apology, to any financial relief handed out, satisfaction among complaining customers doubled from 37 percent to 74 percent. If a fuming customer was at least soothed, he told an average of 10 to 16 people about the situation. But if that customer remained unhappy, he spread the word to an average of 28 people.

All Over the Map

In general, the gripes of ticked-off customers run the gamut. Scott Broetzmann, president and CEO of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting LLC, which collaborated on the study, says, “People are frustrated that there are too many automated-response menus, there aren’t enough customer-care agents, they waste a lot of time dealing with the problem, and they have to contact the company an average of four times to get resolution.”

Mary Jo Bitner, executive director of the Center for Services Leadership at the W.P. Carey School of Business, cautions companies shouldn’t sink money and resources into improving customer service “unless you’re going to do it right.”

“If a company handles your complaint well, then you typically become a more loyal customer,” Bitner says. “However, if they don’t, then you become 12 percentage points less brand loyal than if you never complained at all.”

The Fix

Certainly, the problems with customer service are well-documented. But how can you fix them? Experts offer these six solutions.

1. Show that you care. This attitude should saturate your company culture, according to Jennifer Martin, a business consultant in San Francisco. “If you create a
culture of genuine caring—this means internally and externally—then
 everyone on your staff will know that caring for your clients is a ‘have to’ rather than a ‘want to’,” Martin says.

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