Think about the last time you referred a business to one of your friends. Did you simply text the contact card from your address book so your friend instantly had all the information he needed? Now apply this concept to your business. If every one of your tenants had your business information in his address book (with a personal referral coupon in the vCard), then all he has to do when referring your business to a friend fee is share the card. It’s a great way to make your referral program very convenient.
Sometimes when a self-storage tenant needs to make a payment, he'll search online for the facility phone number. Unfortunately, he may click on the facility’s pay-per-click ad, so the call costs the operator money. If the tenant had the number in his address book, he would find it much more conveniently, and you wouldn't have to pay for the click.
Just imagine if your call center sent a vCard to everyone who called your facility. Both tenants and prospects would then have an easy way to contact you.
How many reoccurring reminders do you have in your calendar? vCal works similar to vCards, except the data shared is a calendar event. When the recipient saves it, the data goes into his calendar instead of his address book.
To create more convenience for your tenants, you could share a vCal with them that includes a reminder alert to pay their rent. By implementing a vCal-sharing program, you may be able to improve cash flow and decrease costs associated with collection activities.
While we, as a consumers, complain about having to keep track of tons of logins and passwords for the different customer accounts we maintain, it does make it more convenient when we can go online and maintain our own accounts rather than having to call someone during business hours. By providing your customers with self-serve options for tasks like changing their contact information, making a payment or renting a unit, you’re making their lives easier.
There are several vendors in the self-storage industry that offer self-service technologies commonly referred to as customer portals. Since these are for existing customers only, few companies have developed self-service options for prospects, too. These allow new customers to rent units either while at the facility, online via your Web and mobile site, or over the phone. All these tools are designed to allow consumers options to do business with you the way they want to, not just the way you want to.
Using technology to make your business more customer convenient should only be a priority if you believe it will make a positive impact on your bottom line. The leaders at Southwest Airlines are believers in this philosophy, and that belief helped them go from a small, regional airline to one of the few profitable businesses in its industry—and one of the ones most liked by consumers. Consider these technologies to add convenience for your self-storage customers. It may make all the difference when they decide where to rent.
Robert A. Chiti is president and CEO of Phoenix-based OpenTech Alliance Inc., a provider of several models of INSOMNIAC self-serve kiosks as well as a range of self-storage rental solutions including the INSOMNIAC Live! Call Center, INSOMNIAC Online Web and mobile applications, LiveAgent! software products, and the INSOMNIAC ILock Security System, all available through the company's Self-Storage Cloud. For more information, call 602.749.9370; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.opentechalliance.com.