By April Lee
When choosing a management-software program, self-storage owners often focus on the features, interface and growth capability of the products offered. However, they should also consider the support the vendor will provide after the purchase. Support hours, quality of support and resources will prove to be extremely important should there be any questions about how to use the system or what to do if an issue arises.
Time is money, and being able to get quick, accurate help is essential. Here are a few support questions to ask and considerations to make the next time you make a change in management software.
Training for all software products should be provided at the time of installation. Consult with your vendor to find out if it offers onsite training or interactive live webinars for facility employees. Some software companies offer their customers 24/7 access to training videos so new and existing managers can review information at their leisure.
More and more companies are replacing bulky product manuals with online-digital documents that are easier to update. Training for any new software or equipment is an ongoing process. As the owner and managers continue to work with the product, their reliance on training materials should decrease.
Inevitably a question will be raised for which a solution is not immediately evident. Self-storage operators should rely on their vendors to provide technical support in a timely fashion. The information provided by the support team should facilitate a quick, permanent solution to the issue the user is experiencing.
The tech-support team should be able to convey what caused the problem and how to prevent and/or correct it in the future. In the event of product failure or errors, they should be willing to work with the operator to troubleshoot the issue and provide replacement parts in a timely fashion when needed.
Ask the vendor how quickly it responds to technical-support inquiries. Is support available around the clock or between certain times? If you leave a message, how long will it take before someone responds? Typically, a software problem needs to be fixed fast, so make sure your vendor offers a speedy response time.
Keep in mind that technical-support models differ from company to company. Some vendors charge a fee on a per-issue basis or offer a package for extended support. Others might include support for a specific time frame as part of the purchase. These fees should be discussed during the sales process so both sides have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t covered.
Ask your vendor if it’s possible to talk to a technician on the phone or if support is provided via the Internet. Also ask about the hours in which support is provided. If you need assistance on a weekend, will you be able to get it? Are there online resources available?
When purchasing software or hardware, self-storage operators aren't usually thinking about what they’ll do when things go wrong. They assume everything will work seamlessly. But products like these that consist of multiple components are predisposed to more user and installer error. When you need help or have a question, you'll want to assist your vendor by providing answers as quickly as possible.
You can get the best results from the tech-support team when you supply accurate, detailed information about the problem or question. Information such as your facility name, the date and time the issue started, and a brief description of the problem are just a starting point. When reporting trouble or asking questions, provide as much information as possible, such as what changed, what tenant or unit was involved, what you believe the software/hardware should be doing and what it’s not, and what you’ve done to try and fix the issue. Providing these details allows your technical-support team to quickly ascertain the problem and get working toward a solution.
Most operators will need technical assistance with their facility’s software at one time or another. Don’t get caught without the support you need. Ask your vendor about the support it provides before making the investment.
April Lee has more than 11 years of technical-support and customer-service experience, including five years as technical-support manager with QuikStor Security & Software, which has provided software and security products since 1987 . Her unique blend of customer service, technical expertise and self-storage experience allow her to provide the support the company's customers have come to expect. For more information, call 800.321.1987; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.quikstor.com.