The self-storage industry is becoming more dependent on technology and its benefits, and that includes facility-management software. This tool is intended to be a boon for your business, with the gains far outweighing any inconvenience. However, issues can arise.
What should you expect when you encounter a software problem? How can you resolve it quickly without frustrating staff or customers? Let’s explore how to optimize your purchase and ensure any necessary interaction with technical support is easy and comfortable.
First, choose a management software that fits your unique business needs. Recent growth in the storage industry has fueled expansion within the software sector, but not every option will be a good fit for you.
To choose the best product, consider your operation. Are you running a single facility or managing dozens? Do you value simplicity or want the most comprehensive feature set available? Make a list of your must-haves. This will help you narrow your choices and find the software that suits you best. By identifying your needs and values first, it’ll be much easier to identify the platform and services to run your business.
Once you’ve zeroed in on a management software, think about the vendor’s tech support and how it’ll fit with your company style. When you require assistance, how important will it be to get a rapid response? Generally, you’ll have only a few options to solicit help. Phone calls, e-mails, online chat and online help documentation are typically the main resources. Each of these will have a different response time. If you and your staff are willing, self-help by searching documentation can get the answer quickly, but a phone call is often the most helpful, as you’re able to explain the details of the situation.
Also, think about expectations in relation to company needs. Does the software you’ve chosen offer the help options you value most? Does the provider actually answer its phone and reply to e-mails? Evaluating your tech-support expectations will help determine if your product choice is right for you.
Another consideration is how often you think you’ll need tech support. This is often dependent on the program you choose, staff experience and the maturity of your business. You’ll obviously need more help if your team isn’t familiar with the software. It’s imperative to train staff before letting them loose. The most common problem is when an unsure employee attempts to do something and makes a mistake. The best way to avoid needing support is to provide excellent training. Make sure your software provider offers educational videos, tutorials or support articles to help.
Examining your expectations, needs and likely support frequency will paint a clearer picture of your relationship with tech support. It’ll also help you identify weak points in your system and better identify the support experience that’s right for you.
Gather as much information about the problem as possible before reaching out to tech support. A vague complaint about something not working, without specific examples, results in an aggravating experience for both parties. Offering details will improve the representative’s ability to provide answers, fix problems and quickly get you back to functioning. Here are some helpful tips:
- Provide your facility name and location, especially if yours is a multi-site operation.
- Give your name and any other identifying information, such as e-mail and phone number.
- Provide screenshots of the error message or problem screen.
- Know if the issue is an isolated incident or frequent occurrence.
- Be available to do a screen-share, or at least be ready at your computer.
- Be prepared to explain what troubleshooting has already been done.
The No. 1 thing to remember is to have patience. This doesn’t mean you should plan on or settle for long call-hold times or e-mail responses that take days. It simply means your polite manner will help you get the best possible service. You can be firm with your expectations, but keep in mind that support staff handle problems all day long. They’ll give you the best treatment when you’re respectful. Patience is also useful in defining the problem. Take the time to ensure both parties fully understand the issue. Don’t jump to conclusions.
After a problem is resolved, a key takeaway should be what can be done differently next time. If it was a shortcoming in the software, is the vendor aware and willing to work toward improvement? If it was a misunderstanding of how a process should work, did you or your staff come away understanding the correct solution? How confident is everyone that the proposed resolution will sufficiently address the problem? Really take these questions into consideration, as they’ll help you with future issues and possibly help you resolve problems before needing to elevate to tech support the next time.
Experiencing software and other technology issues is frustrating, and it can be easy to let your anger get the best of you. But with a calm demeanor, you can turn a every support experience into an easy, educational one. Following the above tips can help make every necessary tech-support interaction painless.
Brian Wilson is chief technology officer for Easy Storage Solutions, a provider of Web-based management software and other technology for small and mid-sized self-storage facilities. Involved in technology and Web development for more than 20 years, he’s been instrumental in consulting and advising clients in building solutions to meet market needs. For more information, call 888.958.5967; visit www.easystoragesolutions.com.