The self-storage industry has never been more competitive. The range of services each facility offers can vary enormously from the most basic to eyepopping amenities and services. Regardless of your service mix, the most successful operators find a way to tap into the needs of all customers and understand what discerning, modern customers want from their storage experience. Aside from offering great value for the money, here are six key ways to cater to your clients.
1. Multi-Channel Customer Service
While providing great customer service on the ground is still essential for tenants and prospects who visit your facility, there’s now an expectation that customer service extends though a multitude of channels, including Web chat, social media and video, in addition to the telephone, e-mail or face-to-face.
Since customers don’t always have the opportunity to reach you during normal business hours, the more hours and ways you can make your customer service available, the better. Of course, regardless of channel, it’s imperative to have friendly, personable and appropriately trained staff in any customer-service role.
2. Account-Management Options
Many consumers have grown accustomed to paying for services online or being able to manage accounts from their smartphones at their convenience. Despite this shift in consumer behavior, some self-storage operators continue to insist tenants makes payments in person or by telephone. Though some customers may still prefer to pay in this manner, the key is to offer flexibility and convenience to everyone.
One way to do this and gain an advantage over competitors is to set up a smartphone app that allows tenants to make payments and manage their accounts.
Customer convenience is a top selling point nowadays, so anything you can do to make life easier is a huge attraction to prospects and a reason to stay for tenants. A mobile app should also deliver customer data that will help you determine where you can hone your services to improve the customer experience.
3. 24-Hour Access
There’s nothing more frustrating to tenants than being unable to access their possessions whenever they need them. Whether using self-storage for personal or business reasons, customers come from all walks of life and have myriad reasons for accessing their units during weekends and late hours. For example, they may work an unsociable schedule or be in a business that operates on weekends or during off hours.
Normal working hours are often the least convenient time for tenants to visit. It’s important for operators to do whatever it takes to offer access flexibility. Automated kiosks and electronic hubs are good options for allowing 24/7 access to your storage facility without adding personnel. It also keeps your business up to date by offering a greater range of user options for daytime clients.
4. Climate Control
There are countless items that can be damaged by heat, humidity and fluctuations in temperature. Customers are keen to ensure their belongings are stored in a controlled environment and preserved in the same condition as they entered the unit. Climate-control technology is readily available now, and few new facilities are being developed without some type of temperature and/or humidity control.
5. Modern Security
When searching for potential storage facilities, security ranks very high on the list of concerns for most customers. Their worst nightmare is to have possessions stolen or vandalized while in storage. Therefore, all modern facilities should, at the very least, be equipped with bright lighting throughout the property, an effective closed-circuit television system, and well-designed perimeter fencing. Fire-protection systems should also be in place.
6. Curb Appeal & Amenities
Finally, maximize customer retention and build brand loyalty by paying close attention to the appearance of your self-storage property and carefully considering value-added amenities. It’s hard work and often a stressful time when tenants are moving their possessions, so providing a clean property and a relaxing break area for customers can differentiate your facility from competitors.
Sweeting the deal by providing fresh coffee and snacks, not to mention hygienic and pleasant bathrooms, can make an impactful, positive impression.
Lisa Jackson is general manager of The Box Self Storage Services LLC, which operates four facilities in the Middle East. She has more than 12 years of experience in the self-storage industry and has been with The Box for four years. During her time in Dubai, she’s been instrumental in the growth of The Box as well as industry advancements in the United Arab Emirates. For more information, visit www.theboxme.com.