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5 Steps to Insourcing Your Self-Storage Call Center: New Technology Creates Opportunity

Today’s new technologies have made it easier for self-storage operators to establish their own in-house call center. Learn how to set one up for your operation and save money doing it.

April 21, 2015

4 Min Read
5 Steps to Insourcing Your Self-Storage Call Center: New Technology Creates Opportunity

By Phil Murphy

It wasn’t long ago that self-storage companies didn’t have a choice when it came to answering inbound calls. They could try to juggle the calls internally, overburdening staff and missing calls, or they could outsource them to a third-party call center. The latter sometimes doesn’t work the way facility owners envision. A third-party call center may not understand your properties and business the way your managers do and may only be able to answer basic questions. In addition, it’s rarely local and may not be as flexible as you might wish it to be.

Today’s new technologies, like cloud-based software and Internet-based phones, lower barriers to entry and give self-storage operators a third option: insourcing. Bringing your calls back in-house opens you up to new business opportunities. You’re likely to increase revenue, decrease expenses, and enhance customer and employee satisfaction. These five steps will help you save money when you insource your call center.

1. Avoid the High Cost of Phone Infrastructure

When opening your own call center, the expense of infrastructure can be significant. Even a small center can exceed $10,000 in equipment costs alone. In addition to hardware and configuration, you have to figure in the cost of ongoing maintenance.

Fortunately, the introduction of next-generation cloud-based telecommunication standards have eliminated this cost entirely. Selecting a cloud-based call center, which allows you to answer calls using the phones and computers you already have, allows you to avoid the high cost of infrastructure.

2. Use the Staff You Already Have

Outsourcing calls can leave customers with incorrect information. When customers receive wrong directions or inaccurate information about your current special, it impacts their trust in your company.

There’s a distinct selling advantage when local expertise and a personal touch are woven into a business/customer relationship, even if it starts and ends with the phone. One of the latest innovations in call-center technology allows you to instantly identify callers and route them to the best person to answer the call. Within every company, there are employees who do a better job with leads and others who are better with delinquency. Skill-based routing can automatically direct sales calls to your company’s best representatives. It can even identify callers who are in late-payment status and send them to your collections specialist, even if that person is at a different facility.

Putting your employees’ individual strengths to work increases staff pride, customer satisfaction and revenue. Who are your top sales stars? Your best customer-service reps? Highlight those unique attributes and use this technology to maximize it.

3. Integrate Your Call Center With Management Software

Just as important as getting the call to the right person is ensuring key information is quickly accessible. The more information your agent or remote manager has when answering calls, the more likely he is to close the lead or provide top-notch customer service.

The latest call-center solutions integrate seamlessly with leading management-software packages so your representative can see lead and customer information, live inventory and pricing, specials, and location details immediately, without shuffling papers or logging into different systems. Some of the more advanced platforms can even allow you to take payments, follow up with leads and customers, or perform other account updates that are automatically pushed to the appropriate locations.

4. Determine Your Hours

Prospective customers usually don’t call in the middle of the night. My company has analyzed millions of calls and found only about 8 percent of them come in during off hours. Of those, 85 percent occur in the hour before or after a location closes. You can easily determine your own hourly call breakdown by examining your detailed phone bills.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars each month to answer a few calls, you can keep one property open an hour early and have another property can stay open an hour late, essentially covering your after-hours calls for the cost of one hour’s pay.

5. Make Sure Managers Know What to Say

Generic scripts don’t help you make sales. Every property is different, and you can sell better when you vary your script or sales approach to highlight an individual facility’s benefits. Hold meetings with star employees to better understand the sales strategies that work best at each location. Then write location-based sales scripts complete with a list of frequently asked questions and sales rebuttals. I’ve even seen agents or managers visit some of the locations whose phones they may be answering. This gives them a familiarity that can’t be duplicated through a computer system.

Hopefully, some of the mystery and hurdles that have prevented you from exploring your own call center have now been removed. Whether you’re looking to reduce expenses, increase rentals or just have better control of your own sales process, it’s becoming more of a reality with today’s call-center technology.

Philip Murphy is president of Next Door Self Storage, which owns and operates 14 stores in Illinois. He's also the president of CallPotential, the creator of a lead-management and do-it-yourself call-center solutions. For more information, visit www.callpotential.com or www.nextdoorselfstorage.com.

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