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Tony Jones

Tony Jones
Manager, Inside Self-Storage Store
tjones@vpico.com

Your GPS Guide to Customer-Service Education at ISS Expo

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Depending on the needs of your self-storage operation, there are hundreds of ways to strategically navigate your way through the education curriculum during the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, which kicks off this Sunday in Las Vegas with two pre-show workshops before hitting full speed on Monday morning. To maximize your experience, I think it’s helpful to plot your education course ahead of time based on specific areas of your business that you’re trying to strengthen.

With nine education tracks running between March 31 and April 1, it might be a little overwhelming to get a bird’s eye view of the show and pick out the sessions that will be most meaningful to you. To get a great side-by-side, hour-by-hour breakdown of the event, I highly recommend our handy “Agenda-at-a-Glance” to get you started. Full session descriptions are available on the ISS Expo website, in the printed Show Guide and even on the individual DVD pre-order pages of the ISS Store for the 30 seminars we’ll be videotaping.

One critical area that is top of mind for many operators is customer service. While there is one session solely devoted to the topic, which we’ll get to shortly, there are other presentations that touch on key aspects of service and customer engagement that should prove beneficial to your business operation. If you’re attending the expo with customer-service concerns or looking to customize a DVD bundle in this arena, let the following serve as your GPS guide.

On Monday at 1 p.m., you’ll want to sit in on “Handling Tricky Customer-Service Issues in Self-Storage,” presented by Stephan Ross, president of Cutting Edge Self Storage Management & Consulting. This session is all about dealing with the unusual-but-inevitable encounters all managers or customer-facing employees will eventually face, including dealing with angry or unstable customers and handling unusual needs or requests. As part of the discussion, Ross will talk about procedures that should be in place and how to properly “close” the interaction once an issue is resolved.

On Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., the show’s new Game-Show Learning track kicks off with “Self-Storage Family Feud: Play Your Way to Marketing Excellence.” Hosted by Emma Nostrand, client relations specialist, and Barry Finder, client relations manager, at SpareFoot, this spin on the popular television show “Family Feud” will cover a range of topics including self-storage features customers care about the most, how to entice customer love online and ways to increase revenue per square foot while keeping tenants happy. Oh, and winners will receive prizes!

At the same time as “The Feud,” Shari Sutton, owner, and Heather Saldaña, marketing executive, of Sutton Watkins Advertising & Marketing will present “Community Marketing for Self-Storage” as part of the Marketing track. While this may not seem like a customer-service session on the surface, I firmly believe community outreach is an important extension of any business and can significantly shape customer-service perception from local businesses and residents. Effective grassroots marketing can prompt customers and community influencers to promote your brand and become your most vocal supporters.

Finally, at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, we’ve got “Self-Storage Disaster Recovery and Social Media” on tap from Jeffrey Greenberger, a partner with Katz, Greenberger & Norton LLP; and Dan Kryzanowski, key account manager, with SpareFoot. This is an important session that will discuss the types of disasters that could strike a self-storage business, how operators should communicate to customers during such instances, and what legal actions they may need to take after a catastrophic event. Having a response plan is critical in the face of disaster, and how you communicate with tenants and the community can either strengthen or damage your business reputation.

There you have it. You’ve reached your customer-service education destination at this year’s expo. There are many other excellent education seminars on the schedule to help you deal with other issues related to self-storage ownership, management, marketing, investment, finance, building, development, liability and more. Let us know what education route you plan to take in the comments section of this blog.

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