By Kevin Kerr
As the tools included within your self-storage management software become more complex, the need for reliable support has become paramount. Luckily, most software providers offer a variety of technical solutions to ensure you have a strong understanding of your program and its capabilities.
You’ve heard the sales pitch. You’ve gone through the demo. You’ve made your self-storage software purchase. Now what?
Talk with your software account manager and set aside time for you and your team to go through an orientation. While he may not be the person who’ll assist you with ongoing technical support, your sales rep is still a great resource to help get you started. While you have him available, go through all of the actions you may need to complete in your software on a normal day—and then go through them all again. The worst thing you can do is fail to voice your questions and concerns. After all, it’s a lot easier to ask a question than fix a mistake.
The orientation should leave you feeling confident about using your new product. At this point, you may be thinking you’re wise enough to host your own seminar on the subject. But then five short minutes later, a customer walks through the door. After greeting him, you realize you’ve forgotten 90 percent of what you learned! As you feel the walls closing in and your mind continues to draw a blank, you remember what your account manager told you: “If you need any help with anything at all, we have many resources available to assist you.”
With newfound clarity, you reach into your desk drawer where you keep the user manual. Upon browsing the pages, you quickly come to the realization that the training wheels are off and it’s time to start using your new software and browsing the various tools.
Most software providers supply their customers with a comprehensive knowledge base to share solutions to common questions and more intricate problems that may have been addressed in the past. Familiarizing yourself with these tools will not only help you find the answer to an immediate issue, it gives you valuable insight into the functionality of the software. Important points of reference include:
- User manuals for basic information
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Configuration setup (information on backend-system setup)
- Partner-contact information to reach integrated partners such as gate-system providers and payment processors
Every support query a provider receives ends up making the overall product just a little bit better in terms of behavior, features and usability. If you have a suggestion for new features or an issue with the functionality of your software, voice your concern to your provider. This will help build a stronger knowledge base and overall product.
Software-support webinars presented by your provider will most likely include training, a demonstration or a recorded event designed to provide you with valuable information. They might be one-way or interactive, live or pre-recorded. A pre-recorded webinar allows participants to review it at their own convenience. You can check your supplier’s website to see which webinars are already available.
For upcoming events, you’ll usually be notified about webinar dates and topics via e-mail and have the choice to register and reserve a spot in advance. Most often, participants are invited to dial in to a toll-free phone number and simultaneously log onto a website so they can see and hear what’s going on. Whether live or recorded, webinars are a great way to ensure you’re familiar with all aspects of your software product.
You’ve read every piece of product documentation and scoured the list of available webinars for the answer to a problem that doesn’t seem to exist. As you begin to fall into a pit of despair, a ray of hope beams down upon you as you remember that you haven’t yet exhausted all resources. With a renewed spark of optimism, you quickly look to find the contact information for the unsung heroes of your software: live technical-support agents.
The majority of software providers will offer some form of live technical support. However, it’s important to note the coverage and quality of care may differ greatly between providers. There may be differences in:
- Hours of operation
- Response time
- Working knowledge of integrated products (gate systems, text messaging, etc.)
- Willingness to troubleshoot problems outside the company’s immediate scope
All of these details should be addressed thoroughly before committing to your management software to prevent any dreadful feelings of buyer’s remorse during a moment of need.
If you’ve chosen a reputable provider, I can guarantee it has engineers tirelessly working on your software every single day to provide your facility with new features and a better user experience. Whether these innovations were developed to increase your overall profitability or to simplify actions for you or your tenants, it’s important to keep your software up to date and learn how to implement these tools when they’re released.
While many updates can be applied on the provider’s back end without the need to manually update, you may want to occasionally check with your software vendor to ensure you have the latest features. Make sure the vendor always has your current contact information. Also subscribe to the company’s social media channels (blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to ensure you don’t miss important news or releases.
A Growing Resource
Technical support isn’t just about running into problems and looking for solutions. It’s an ever-growing knowledge base created to improve your self-storage operation through information. Don’t wait for the next time you have an issue to discover what resources are available to you. Contact your provider and see how you can start improving your business today.
Kevin Kerr is the marketing and sales coordinator for Storage Commander, a Murrieta, Calif.-based supplier of Web-based and onsite facility-management software. To reach him, e-mail [email protected]; visit www.storagecommander.com.