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Improving Your Self-Storage Customer Experience: Insight From Extra Space

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised consumer expectations around the level and type of service they require. In self-storage, it has certainly changed the way facility operators interact with prospects and tenants. If you’re concerned about your company’s customer experience, here’s some advice from an expert at Extra Space Storage.

Brett Boot

March 18, 2022

4 Min Read
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The coronavirus pandemic has changed the self-storage industry in many ways, including greater expectations from consumers about the rental process. From their initial inquiry to move-in, they rely on us facility operators to provide a high-quality user experience.

To meet or exceed these expectations, it’s important that we have an intimate knowledge of our customer base. At Extra Space Storage, we use an analytical, data-driven approach to anticipate the needs of current and future tenants. We’ve come to understand that they should be able to interact with our company when, where and how they want, at every stage of the process. That’s what creates a seamless customer experience (CX). Following are some additional insights we’ve learned that may help you improve your own customer channels and touchpoints.

Anticipate Customer Needs

The need for self-storage is often connected to a high-stress situation involving a big life change such as moving, a home remodel, birth, death, divorce, opening a new business, going to college, or the need to protect a large investment like a boat or RV. As facility operators, we’re ultimately just one piece of each customer’s overall journey. It’s our job to care for them, appreciate them and inform them along every stage of their industry experience. Anticipating their needs helps make the process easy and hassle-free.

Whether you’re a small self-storage operator or a large-scale business with dozens of sites, digging into your data to seek and analyze patterns in your customer interactions can provide valuable awareness. For example, you might determine that your typical renter hasn’t used self-storage before and has a lot of questions. This should help you and your team prepare answers to common inquiries before prospects even thinks to ask them.

Interpreting your data will also help you get to know your customers, including their preferences and needs. Armed with that critical information, you can anticipate the most likely path prospects will take in their storage journey.

Take an Omnichannel Approach

The pandemic has pushed many self-storage operators to adopt new technologies, with many of us adding and increasing contact-free ways to rent units such as over the phone, online, via a QR code or through a kiosk. Customers now expect seamless remote and/or digital interactions, fast issue resolution, and open communication shared across multiple channels. In short, they want an omnichannel experience.

To accomplish this, we must implement tools and processes that allow customers to interact with us when and where they want, via the method they prefer, including an ability to bounce between different channels. For example, if a prospect starts an online chat via your website, they should be able to pick up the conversation exactly where they left off if they decide to visit your facility and speak to a manager in person.

Even existing tenants expect this user experience. It shouldn’t matter if they reach out to you via social media, a call center, web chat, kiosk or in person. In each instance, they should receive a consistent, world-class customer-service interaction that quickly gets them to an appropriate solution for their needs.

Giving customers the ability to choose how they want to interact with your business is important. You never want to force them into a certain channel just because it’s your preferred method for communication or is the most economical. As new channels and customer expectations arise, be there to assist them on their preferred platform. Work to integrate all your communication channels, elevate your CX and create a seamless process for interaction.

Create a Connection

Even with all the new technology available in the self-storage industry, it’s still human connection that’ll make your service feel extraordinary. Managers, call-center agents and support staff are key to producing a meaningful CX across all channels, at every stage of the buyer journey. To build strong connections with prospects and tenants, I recommend doing these three things:

  • Care for them: Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Invest in their well-being and love being there for them.

  • Appreciate them: Customers give you their trust and loyalty, so be grateful. Understand that they mean everything to your business and express your appreciation often.

  • Inform them: You’re the self-storage expert, so share helpful information that helps customers make educated decisions. Also, proactively inform them about issues that may impact them.

Listen to your self-storage customers and work to exceed their expectations. In addition, encourage and celebrate team members who go above and beyond in this regard. Perhaps give out monthly customer-care awards to recognize those who exemplify the above CX values. Watch as your online reviews become filled with glowing remarks about your team! You simply can’t provide an exemplary service experience without great staff.

The self-storage customer journey can take many twists and turns. It’s on you to optimize their experience and assure them that they’ve selected the right place to store their belongings. Our industry isn’t just about space, it’s about going the extra mile help people meet their needs.

Brett Boot is director of customer experience at Extra Space Storage Inc., a self-storage real estate investment trust and management company. He joined the company in 2015, holding various operational roles before leading the customer-experience team. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Georgia and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Utah. For more information, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Brett Boot

Director of Customer Experience, Extra Space Storage Inc.

Brett Boot is director of customer experience at Extra Space Storage Inc., a self-storage real estate investment trust and management company. He joined the company in 2015, holding various operational roles before leading the customer-experience team. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Georgia and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Utah. For more information, email [email protected].

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