If you asked self-storage operators around the country what they feel their competitive advantage is, 95 percent would likely say they provide a higher level of customer service. Very few ever talk about their level of customer convenience. There’s a big difference between the two, with the latter rapidly becoming the most important, the one that may lead to winning the battle for more customers.
Customer service is often based on the Golden Rule: "Treat others as you wish to be treated." Operating on this assumption is risky at best. We’re not all alike, and it seems customer preferences and demands vary more than ever.
Customer convenience is based on the Platinum Rule, originally conceived by Dr. Tony Alessandra: "Treat others as they wish to be treated." With this mindset, the focus of the relationship shifts from “This is what I would want, so I’ll give you the same thing” to “Let me first understand what you want, and then I’ll give it to you.”
Companies that believe in and build their operation around the Platinum Rule will have a real competitive advantage over those that still believe all customers want to be treated the same. We’re in the age of “the experience,” and the more commoditized a product is, the more the experience matters. Here are a few technologies you should consider that will make the experience of doing business with your self-storage facility more convenient.
Half of all consumers who rent storage are new to the concept, which means they need to be educated on how the service works and how your company can make the rental process convenient. We also know consumers are “consuming” (the buzz term for watching videos) more video content than ever before—and they like it!
By creating short, valuable video content that helps consumers understand self-storage, unit types and sizes, and why your facility is the best choice, you’re demonstrating that you realize their need to grasp the concept. Of course, your manager can provide the same education in person; but many consumers are shopping for storage online, so that’s where you need to connect with them if you want to serve them the way they want to be served.
You have lots of friends on Facebook, LinkedIn and maybe even Twitter, but your real friends and the companies with which you do business are saved as contacts in your address book. Don’t believe me? Pull out your phone. I bet you have info for your banker, attorney, landscaper, maid service, favorite restaurant, etc. Why? Because you want a convenient place to store all the information you need about these companies. A goal of your self-storage marketing should be to become a contact in the address book of every consumer who comes in contact with your business.
So, how do you do it? With vCards! They’re a powerful new approach to electronic Personal Data Interchange (PDI). A vCard is a universal format that allows you to store and share data including the facility and manager’s name, phone number, e-mail, office and access hours, unit number, access code, and more.
I’m sure you’ve seen e-mails with files attached that have the .vcf coding. Open the attachment and you’re prompted to save the contact information in your address book on your mobile phone or in whatever contact-management system you use (Outlook, Google, etc.). If you don’t have an icon on your website that allows visitors to save your vCard in their address book with a simple click, you should.