Depending on your professional expertise or the specific needs of your self-storage business, there are hundreds of ways to strategically navigate your way through the education sessions offered during the 2015 Inside Self-Storage World Expo, which kicks off April 6 in Las Vegas with two pre-conference workshops before hitting full speed on Tuesday, April 7. To maximize your experience, I believe it’s helpful to survey all of the offerings ahead of time and then hone in on specific topics that address areas of your business you’d like to strengthen.
But with 10 education tracks running April 7-8, 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 45 seminars we’ll be videotaping.
Since this blog focuses heavily on customer-service issues, I’d like to highlight some 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, please use the following to map out a strategic course.
On April 7 at 9 a.m., you’ll want to sit in on “Self-Storage Buying Behavior: What Your Customers Really Want,” presented by Susan Haviland, owner of Haviland Storage Services. This session is about getting inside the mind of self-storage customers to understand why they rent from you. The more you know about buying behavior, the more you can focus on what’s important to customers and leverage your points of differentiation to influence decision-making. Gaining this knowledge should also help you meet or exceed customer expectations—a key part of any meaningful customer-service program.
Also on Tuesday, at 11 a.m., is “Serving Self-Storage Customers: Do's, Don'ts and the Path to Success.” Presented by William Gray, regional manager of Iron Guard Storage, this session focuses heavily on the customer experience, including how phone calls and social media impact customer service, the role of your facility’s curb appeal, and proper ways to handle service issues. Gray will also discuss ways to bolster customer loyalty.
Speaking of service issues, you’ll likely want to close out Tuesday afternoon with “Keeping Your Cool in Heated Situations: Communicating With Customers and Co-Workers” at 3 p.m. One of the most difficult aspects to customer service is staying calm and level headed when dealing with difficult situations. In this session, Carol Mixon-Krendl, president of SkilCheck Services Inc., will discuss how to defuse heated exchanges with customers and provide a three-step process to deliver candid messages and compel a change in behavior. The session will also help you bolster internal communications within your company, including how to prepare yourself for conversations you’d rather not have.
Finally, on April 8 at 8 a.m., consider sitting in on “Self-Storage Retail Results: Merchandising, Sales and More,” presented by Barry Johnston, president of Supply Side USA Although this session may not seem specifically geared toward customer service, retail services and effective merchandising play important roles in the overall customer experience. Proactive managers and artistic, well-organized displays not only boost sales, they appeal to customers’ need for convenience and personalized service.
There you have it. The customer-service road map for this year’s expo will you take you to four distinct destinations through varied terrain. It’s an excellent mix that should help you sharpen your service skills. In addition, 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, sales and more. Let us know what education route you plan to take in the comments section below.