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Stop Frustrating Self-Storage Customers With Annoying Website Features

As consumer habits have shifted predominantly online, websites play an increasingly critical role in customer engagement. But as you evolve your self-storage website, it’s imperative to keep the user experience in mind. A well-designed website that minimizes customer aggravation will enhance engagement with prospects and strengthen your relationship with current tenants.

Tony Jones

November 25, 2015

4 Min Read
Stop Frustrating Self-Storage Customers With Annoying Website Features

As Internet providers have increased bandwidth to users, website designers seem determined to use every kilobyte of capacity on a user’s system. Back in the days of dial-up service and even early cable, users would get frustrated with load times, so Web designers came up with strategic ways to help websites load more quickly. This was a necessary measure to manage user frustration. It was smart business and good customer service.

As consumer habits have shifted predominantly online, websites play an increasingly critical role in customer engagement. But greater bandwidth and a multiplicity of access devices have seemingly been met with a shift in Web-design principles. In many cases, businesses are overthinking their websites, loading them with so much content and bells and whistles that functionality suffers.

How many websites have you visited recently in which you’ve had to turn off an automated audio file that greeted you upon entry, close multiple pop-up/slide-in ads or search endlessly for a video you know is auto-playing on the page (you can hear it) but is frustratingly hidden from view? These all seem to be occurring with greater frequency. Part of it is media and entertainment companies are grappling with vastly different business models than they previously operated under, and the shift to a digital revenue stream has not been a smooth one. But losing sight of user-friendliness and increasing customer frustration is not a smart way to conduct business or build loyalty.

I was recently on a newspaper website and was greeted with a consumer survey before I could view the story I wanted to read. Media sites are increasingly moving toward a pay model in which users can view an x-number of articles for free before they must either pay for a subscription or wait until the beginning of the next month to access more content. Some sites have added another layer, in which the user must proceed through a survey on behalf of a mystery brand before viewing desired content for free.

While I understand the reasoning behind these maneuvers and am even sympathetic toward why they’ve been implemented, the annoyance of having to move through a survey isn’t likely to convert me into a paying customer. Instead it becomes a battle of will. When an article is gated by a consumer survey, I typically try to select an answer on the first question that will prevent the survey from continuing. This is a user strategy to circumvent the system. It generally gets me to the content I want to access more quickly and delivers unreliable data back to the polling company. Most recently, I had to answer nine questions before viewing an article that turned out to be not much longer than a tweet. I failed miserably in trying to get the survey to end and then was disappointed in the “reward” for having ventured through the gateway. Perhaps that’s a just punishment, but the polling service got lousy or misleading data, and the media company’s Web strategy to convert me failed. That’s a fail-fail-fail scenario. When compounded hundreds or thousands of times by similar user experiences, it simply doesn’t add up to good business.

As you evolve your self-storage website, it’s imperative to keep the user experience in mind. This is why creating a mobile-friendly site is so important in today’s marketplace. Spending time and resources to optimize your website and build out a smart content strategy that informs and entices prospective tenants is useless if the framework of your website fails to be intuitive or creates too many barriers for users to access what they’re looking for. Make it clear and easy for customers to find the information they need, reserve a unit online, make a payment, or contact you directly if they have specific questions.

I’m all for bells and whistles designed to make a website more interesting and even generate revenue, but use caution in how these are implemented. If you’re going to require users to provide contact information in exchange for some reward, make sure that what they receive will be of value to them. Comb through your navigation and examine each page of your website with a critical eye. What’s missing? What’s confusing? What’s not functioning correctly? The idea is to locate and eliminate pain points that are likely to frustrate or annoy.

Some annoyances may be difficult to eliminate entirely, but it’s important to weigh their worth against the potential level of frustration and then try to minimize the severity of their impact. Remember, your website is an extension of your self-storage facility, and customers will form opinions about your business based on their user experience before they ever set foot on your property.

A well-functioning website is an extension of customer service. Eliminating or minimizing aggravation will enhance engagement with prospects and strengthen your relationship with current tenants. It’s a strategy some consumers may not be acutely conscious of due to the absence of trouble, but it’s a subtle differentiator for which they’ll be thankful.

About the Author(s)

Tony Jones

ISS Store Manager, Contributing Editor, Inside Self-Storage

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