By Jacqueline Feldman
Moving is one of the top five most stressful things in life. It’s amid a list of other traumatic events such as death of a loved one, loss of a job, major illness and divorce. Interestingly, the last four things mentioned often lead to moving, thus compounding the amount of stress one might experience. These events are often being experienced by our self-storage customers and represent only a broad picture of what the person standing on the opposite side of the counter might be dealing with.
This person has come to your storage facility looking for an answer to a problem. He needs storage. We’re here to provide it, and our job is to try to ease his stress a little, even if it’s simply by lending an ear and showing we care.
With increased competition in the industry, it’s more important than ever to provide top-notch customer service. We’re constantly stressing this to our managers. But what does top-notch customer service look like? How do we know we’re providing the best service possible and really making a difference in our customers’ lives?
It really is quite simple, and it starts the moment customers walk in the door. We must stand up and greet our customers. Welcome customers to your store; let them know you’re happy to have them and offer a smile. Standing up shows you’re engaged and interested in helping. This initial step is crucial in building trust and rapport with your customers. As a rule, stand up when anyone walks into your office, whether they’re an existing tenant or new customer.
Next, be sure you properly inquire about what your customer is storing so you can offer him the correct size unit. Be sure to listen. Often, as customers are telling you what they’re storing, they may start to give you a quick snapshot of their situation. Listening and being engaged is good customer service. Let them know you’re there to make the storage process go smoothly and help ease their stress a little.
When consulting with a client, offer to take him outside to look at units. This opens up many opportunities to gain his trust as well as showcase your property. As you take your customer outside, you’re able to continue to build trust by pointing out the features and benefits of storing with you. Let the customer know you’re interested in getting him the right size unit, not upselling him into something much too big.
Once you’ve earned a rental, maintaining customer happiness is crucial to the success of your property. This will determine the likelihood of tenants spreading good words about your store. If customers are treated well by you, they’ll happily send a friend or family member to rent with you.
Good customer service boils down to the little things. When a customer comes in, stand up, call him by name and ask him how he’s doing. Even if you don’t remember his name when he first comes into the office, use it when he leaves. Get to know your customers and show interest in their lives.
Be quick to offer solutions to problems. If a customer has an issue, don’t delay resolving it. Answer questions right away or direct him as best as you can. If you tell someone you’re going to get back with him, be sure you do. Don’t let the little things slip through the cracks.
Lastly, be sure you let your customers know you appreciate their business. Without them, our business wouldn’t exist. Thank them for stopping in, renting, making a payment, purchasing merchandise, etc. Expressing gratitude is great customer service. Everyone likes to know they’re appreciated.
Although we can’t change the life situation an individual is going through, we can be a beacon of light during a dark time in someone’s life.
Jacqueline Feldman has nearly 10 years of experience in the self-storage industry. She currently splits her duties between running a facility and as an area manager for Advantage Consulting and Management in Mason, Ohio. Owned by Brad North, Advantage Consulting & Management specializes in facility management, sales, marketing and operational training, consulting, and feasibility studies.