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Listen Up!

Active listening helps self-storage business owners improve their customer-service skills.

Amy Campbell

July 8, 2008

2 Min Read
Listen Up!

Rodney Dangerfield once said, "I haven't spoken to my wife in years. I didn't want to interrupt her."

We all know somebody who talks, talks, talks and never listens. It's like they don't even care what someone else has to say. In fact, it's really rude and pretty much a turn-off.

On the other hand, active listeners can establish really strong relations with people, earn respect and even more business, according to an article by Scott Clark, a writer for the Puget Sound Business Journal. "Active listening is the only effective means to rapidly uncover information that is crticial to satisfying the customer," he says.

To sharpen listening skills, Clark suggests a number of strategies, including concentrating on what a customer is saying, trying to read inflections and body language at the same time. Never interrupt; instead, let a person finish before responding by paraphrasing his or her point of view and offering suggestions to resolve the problem.

Better yet, writes Sue Weinman of Michaels Wilder Inc., who writes a regular column for Inside Self-Storage, "If you really want to know what customers think about your facility and service, ask them. Do you give people the opportunity to provide comments or suggestions?"

Weinman advises those who are not comfortable probing for customer feedback personally can hire an independent company to call tenants and ask about their satisfaction with your self-storage facility's services. And, she concludes, "Always include the question, 'What can we do better?'"

John Roser, a facility manager who contributes to the Self-Storage Talk online forum, concurs. "In every case, we have found that listening with empathy is the best therapy for customers, coupled with a sincere reassurance that our interest is to prevent their storage experience from contributing to their obvious stress. Customers appreciate this, and almost without exception eventually come by to thank us for our understanding and assistance."  

The best part of listening? Roser knows the answer: "The end result is always a bounty of referrals!"

What to learn to be an amazing listener? Kevin Stirtz, author of "More Loyal Customers," offers a self-evaluation and tips for learning to improve listening skills via this link.

Listen up ... and good luck!

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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