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Dishing Up That 'Something Extra' Customer Service in Self-Storage

Good customer service is becoming an increasingly important part of the self-storage industry. With competition growing, operators can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to looking after their customers. Here are some simple but key components to providing superior service.

March 24, 2015

5 Min Read
Dishing Up That 'Something Extra' Customer Service in Self-Storage

By Helen Naylor

Good customer service is becoming an increasingly important part of the self-storage industry. With competition growing, particularly from the new breed of valet-storage services, operators can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to looking after their customers. Here are some simple but key components to providing superior service.

First Impression

A nice welcome is the first step toward providing a good customer experience, so it’s vital that there’s always someone in your office to greet customers when they visit and answer the phone when they call. An employee’s friendly attitude makes a positive impact on a customer’s first impression—but don’t go too far. It sounds odd, but being overly familiar can turn some people off. Customers are looking for a service, not a new pal. Be friendly but professional.

Clear Communication

Clear communication is always a key part of customer service, especially in self-storage. Facility employees can provide great service during the rental process in a number of ways.

First, they can help customers determine how much space they need by asking what tenants plan to store and for how long. Most will have no idea how much space they require. This is your chance to share your knowledge with your new tenant and gain his trust.

It’s also critical to thoroughly discuss the rental agreement and facility policies. Make sure you cover office hours, rules and regulations, insurance requirements, the move-out process, and any other information a first-time tenant needs to know. The rental process also provides an opportunity to sell your other products, such as packing and moving supplies, or other services your business may offer.

There’s a lot of information you need to convey to a new tenant at move-in. Failure to present it clearly could lead to confusion and distress down the road. The best way to avoid this is to provide printed materials that outline all the info a tenant needs and talk through it during the first meeting. This way the customer understands the service you provide and has a written reminder for later. Always invite your new tenant to call or e-mail you, or to stop by the office if he has additional questions or concerns.

Problem-Solving

There may come a time when a customer approaches you with a problem. The key is to listen to his concerns and deal with the issue in a calm, professional manner.

Part of the equation is being available. There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer than having a problem and not being able to reach someone to resolve it. This is particularly important for storage facilities that offer 24/7 access. For example, if your tenant needs to retrieve an item from his unit after business hours but can’t gain access due to a broken gate or keypad, you should provide a way for him to get help as quickly as possible.

Extra Services

Giving customers that bit of extra convenience is essential in the storage industry. With new valet-storage companies offering a service through which the customer doesn’t even need to leave the house to store and access his items, traditional storage facilities need to up their game to compete. Of course, not every facility has the resources to offer a collection service, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your customers a little something to make your business stand above others.

Simply supplying a robust retail area stocked with an assortment of packing supplies at a competitive price is one way to add convenience for customers. You then become a one-stop shop for all their storage needs. You could offer a complementary unloading service or extra manpower to help people move items into their unit. Another idea is to give new customers free access to your facility’s moving truck so they don’t need to rent one. Ask your customers what extra services they would like, and then make it happen.

Testimonials

Any facility can offer people a place to store their stuff. To stand out from the crowd, you need to offer an exceptional storage experience. Assuming you provide great service that satisfies tenants, prospects should know what current customers think of you. Testimonials are a great way to achieve this.

Place an attractive journal on your reception desk and encourage tenants to add their positive comments about your facility, staff and storage experience. Keep pens at the ready. You can also make a place for testimonials on your website. Both of these options are great ways to build consumer trust in your brand.

A Positive Move-Out

When your customer is ready to move out, it’s important to ensure his overall experience was a good one. If it wasn’t, find out why and offer to do something about it. This final interaction will most likely determine whether he recommends your business to others. Good word-of-mouth is priceless for self-storage operators who rely on local customers.

A feedback form is a great way to get an honest opinion from your customer, plus it gives him something to do while you process his move-out forms. At this point, tenants may suggest extra services or products that could help you improve your business. Remember to ask tenants who’ve had a positive experience with your facility to add a comment to your testimonial book, website or social media pages.

Great customer service comes in many forms. As competition heats up, now’s the time to become the self-storage operator everyone talks about. Follow the above simple steps, and that claim will be yours.

Helen Naylor is the content-marketing executive for SureStore Self-Storage in Peterborough, England. She writes for industry magazines and has extensive experience with small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs). She works with organizations to provide useful commentaries and information covering a wide range of topics including business solutions and development, advice for SMEs, manufacturing, technology, logistics, and careers. To reach her, e-mail [email protected]; visit www.surestore-self-storage.co.uk.

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