“Customer experience is the new marketing,” according to Steve Cannon, president and CEO of Mercedes Benz USA. For me personally, the most convenient business usually wins, but I’m not alone. Research and advisory firm Gartner claims as many as 89 percent of all companies are competing primarily on customer experience. If that’s true, how does your self-storage business stack up against the competition?
Here’s a hint: If customers have to wait for a response when they contact you, you have work to do. A minute feels a lot longer than it used to in this fast-paced, digital world, and most customers aren’t going to hang around. According to a customer-loyalty survey my company conducted, one in five consumers expects a response from a local business within five minutes.
You can’t afford to become an inconvenience to your current and prospective renters. Every interaction is an opportunity to impress and inform them. If you want to stay top-of-mind with customers, start with their phone!
Why SMS Is Superior
Texting not only helps you keep track of conversations with customers, it allows them to respond on their timeline. Text messages have the added benefit of being able to capture images, record video and even send appointment reminders. If you still aren’t convinced that texting is right for your business, here are seven statistics showing just how superior SMS really is.
Text messages have a 98 percent open rate, according to Mobile Marketing Watch. Maybe it’s the annoying notification bubbles, or perhaps smartphones are as addicting as they say. Either way, text messages have the highest open rate of any form of communication. The average for e-mail is just 21 percent, according to e-mail platform MailChimp. Whether you’re trying to collect payments or update contact info, your customer is nearly five times more likely to see your message via text.
On average, text messages contain less than 1 percent spam. If your phone chimes, buzzes, vibrates or rings, you generally answer it or at least look at it. Unlike e-mails and robo-phone calls, texting as a channel is 99 percent spam-free, which makes it hard to resist checking your phone when you hear the text alert.
Ninety percent of text messages are opened within three minutes of receipt, says mobile-marketing company Tatango. When was the last time you opened an e-mail within three minutes of receiving it? Not only do texts get opened, they get read, which means you’re not waiting for customers to clarify day-old messages or confirm appointments. Faster communication is more effective because it’s more recent.
Customer texting is 100 percent scalable. For lots of local business owners, calling a customer adds a personal touch that helps them feel like a friend. What if you could extend that touch to every single customer communication? With texting, you can talk to all tenants at scale without losing any of the sentiment.
Seventy-seven percent of Americans have smartphones. Your customers use their phones for everything. According to Google, 76 percent of people who search on their phone for something nearby visit a related business within a day, and 28 percent of those searches result in a purchase.
Seventy percent of smartphone owners who bought something in a store first turned to their devices for information, Google says. From dog-walkers to dinner, you can find just about anything online, so it’s not surprising that more and more people are using mobile devices to find and buy things they need. Whether your customers are looking for your website or following up on a storage rental, they’re likely to do it from their phone.
Ninety percent of today’s consumers prefer texting over other methods of communication. Phone calls go to voicemail, e-mails can go to spam, but text messages get attention. According to cloud-communications company twilio, 90 percent of consumers prefer texts because they don’t require an immediate interaction/response like a phone call. If that’s what they prefer, why would you send them anything else?
Your customers demand convenience. Becoming their obvious choice for self-storage requires you to know and anticipate their needs. They’re already texting, and your competitors aren’t far behind. Why wait to communicate with them on their terms?
Nate Tall is senior regional director of sales at Podium, a Utah-based startup that develops cloud-based software to help businesses modernize customer interactions, such as messaging and customer feedback, and improve their online reputations. Nate oversees more than a dozen sales professionals. A California native, he loves cheering on the Golden State Warriors almost as much as he loves introducing local business owners to his company. To reach him, e-mail email@example.com.