Using technology to create a positive self-storage experience
When was the last time you were truly impressed with a service or product? Maybe what struck you was the friendliness of a waiter in a restaurant, or the speed and convenience of a food delivery app. When you remember these types of moments, it strengthens your connection with specific brands, companies and their offerings.
Multi-billion dollar companies like Amazon and Apple have revolutionized the shopper experience by leveraging How? ‘Or’ What customers want to be served as much as they focus on what people want to buy. They understand consumer demand for a fluid and connected journey.
In today’s competitive self-storage landscape, embracing and improving the customer experience is one of the smartest steps you can take. In order to do this, you will have to take advantage of the technology, but don’t worry, you can still create an experience with a personal touch.
The customer journey
A satisfied customer is a loyal customer, and loyal customers are gold. A positive, ongoing relationship between your self-storage business and its tenants helps advocacy and promotion, and impacts your word-of-mouth reputation. Dedicated customers are your biggest fans and your best marketing tool.
More importantly, their experiences with your business can dictate your results. Customers rely on you to be the expert at what you do. If your service is unreliable or if you are unable to deliver on your promises, you can kiss your credibility goodbye. Keeping a consistently positive experience at every touchpoint ensures you’ll meet their standards every time.
Understanding it is the first step to perfecting your customer journey. By tracing each interaction from start to finish, you will identify opportunities and reveal gaps. You’ll also gain insight into how your customers are feeling, their weaknesses and frustrations, as well as the parts of your self-service storage operation that they are happy with. In summary, the stages of the buying journey look like this:
- Consciousness: This includes your website and advertising, and possibly word of mouth. These touchpoints create a prospect’s first impression of your business, so they should be the finer part of the journey. This is where online reviews come in. A positive review is the best way for a tenant to say “thank you,” so encourage happy tenants to write one on your behalf.
- Search: Another way to think about this is your “findability”. This includes everything from pay per click campaigns and organic search to cards and directories. This is where prospects start to engage more seriously than just knowing you exist.
- Research: The key elements here are blogs and articles, customer reviews, case studies, and word of mouth. Serious prospects will dig for more information. Having useful and comprehensive content can simplify this process and provide them with the tools to make an informed decision.
- Buy: The ability to buy online is important today. This may include the ability to make a purchase through a mobile app. When renting accommodation, ask yourself how accessible and easy has the process been? Did the customer have everything they needed to complete the transaction?
- Live: Be sure to review customer expectations after purchase with records and follow-up. Once they have experienced your premium service and amenities, it is time for them to share their positive experience.
Your goal should be to simplify the customer journey, making it easy for prospects to reach you and get the information they need. To perfect it, go through the whole experience from the buyer’s perspective. Now, let’s take a closer look at the role that technology plays.
Technology with a personal touch
One sure-fire way to miss out on a potential business is to ignore the capabilities of the technology. Your goal is to appeal to prospects and tenants, and there are new tools designed to optimize their self-storage experience. For example, consider how automation makes it easier for users to connect with businesses on a more personal level without the need to add more infrastructure.
Communication. Think about how and when you communicate with customers. If you still rely on a manual tracking process, you may end up wasting time on unnecessary tasks and missing out on bigger opportunities. With scalable automation, you can complete the process where you need it most, so your team can start leasing again and customers can be better served.
Omnichannel communication improves operator / tenant dynamics by allowing customers to be contacted the way they want, through channels such as SMS, email, phone and social media. A lead and collection management module can simplify this process by removing the burden of follow-up. With the ability to adjust the tone and frequency of messages, you can personalize the customer experience and provide a frictionless process.
The calling experience. How many times have you called a company to pay a bill and ended up going through an endless cycle of service reps? Your operation’s call experience should be designed to connect customers to what they need without barriers. Whether it’s directing a prospect to a call center agent, transferring an overdue tenant to a paid IVR (Interactive Voice Response) over the phone, or referring a tenant to their facilities manager, the experience should be clear and direct.
Find a service with technology that can detect who the caller is and what they need, then determine the most efficient route to get them there. There are systems on the market that can retrieve preloaded information to pull customer history and payment details and then redirect the caller to the right person. The key is to streamline and shorten the process.
Contactless options. Self-service is the new normal in this digital age. It’s become pretty clear that consumers want less human interaction and more DIY options. Kiosks, e-sign, phone payment and other tools have a convenience factor that can differentiate your self-storage operation from that of your competition.
Create a memorable experience
The simple truth is that customers want fast, friendly service and reliable answers. By honing your buying experience to take advantage of technology with a personal and positive touch, you will be able to identify opportunities, analyze trends and build customer loyalty.
Alissa Palmisano is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Call potential, supplier of a customer relationship management and communication platform that integrates with self-storage property management software to produce operational information, transparency and control. New to the self-storage industry, she has experience as a writer, content creator and social media enthusiast. For more information, call 877.552.2557; E-mail [email protected].