Keep in Touch: Using Technology to Create a Positive, Personal Self-Storage Experience
By Alissa Palmisano
Marketing and Communications coordinator, CallPotential
When was the last time you were truly wowed by a service or product? Perhaps what touched you was the friendliness of a server at a restaurant, or the speed and convenience of a food-delivery app. When you recall these types of moments, it strengthens your connection to specific brands, companies and their offerings.
Multi-billion-dollar businesses like Amazon and Apple have revolutionized the buyer experience by tapping into how customers want to be served just as much as they focus on what people want to buy. They understand consumer demand for a seamless, connected journey.
In today’s competitive self-storage landscape, embracing and improving the customer experience is one of the smartest steps you can take. To do so, you’ll need to leverage technology, but don’t worry—you can still create an experience with a personal touch.
The Customer Journey
A happy customer is a loyal customer, and loyal customers are gold. An ongoing, positive relationship between your self-storage business and its tenants drives advocacy and promotion, and impacts your word-of-mouth reputation. Devoted customers are your biggest fans and best marketing tool.
Most important, their experiences with your business can dictate your bottom line. Customers are relying on you to be the expert at what you do. If your service is unreliable or you’re unable to deliver what you promise, you can kiss your credibility good-bye. Keeping a consistently positive experience across every touchpoint ensures you’ll meet their standards every time.
The first step to perfecting your customer journey is to understand it. By charting each interaction from start to finish, you’ll identify opportunities and reveal gaps. You’ll also gain insight to how your customers feel—their pain points and frustrations, plus the parts of your self-storage operation with which they’re satisfied. In a nutshell, the steps of the buyer journey look something like this:
- Awareness: 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 most polished part of the journey. This is where online reviews come into play. A positive review is the best way a tenant can say “thank you,” so encourage satisfied renters to write one on your behalf.
- Search: Another way to think about this is your “findability.” This includes everything from pay-per-click campaigns to organic search to maps and directories. It’s where prospects begin engaging more seriously than simply being aware you exist.
- Research: The key components here are blogs and articles, customer reviews, case studies, and word-of-mouth. Serious prospects will dig for more information. Having useful and thorough content can simplify this process and provide them with the tools to make an informed decision.
- Purchase: The ability to buy online is important today. This might include the ability to make a purchase via mobile app. When you rent a unit, ask yourself, how accessible and easy was the process? Did the customer have everything he needed to complete the transaction?
- Experience: Make sure you review customers’ post-purchase expectations with check-ins and follow-up. Once they’ve experienced your superior service and amenities, it’s time for them to spread word of their positive experience.
It should be your goal to simplify the customer journey, making it effortless for prospects to reach you and get the information they need. To perfect it, work your way through the entire experience from the buyer’s point of view. Now, let’s look more carefully at the role technology plays.
Technology With a Personal Touch
A surefire way to miss out on potential business is to ignore the capabilities of technology. Your goal is to please prospects and tenants, and there are new tools designed to optimize their self-storage experience. For example, consider how automation is making it easier for users to connect with companies on a more personal level without any need to add more infrastructure.
Communication. Think about how and when you communicate with customers. If you still rely on a manual follow-up process, you could be wasting time on profitless tasks and missing bigger opportunities. With scalable automation, you can supplement the process where you need it most, so your team can get back to closing rentals and customers can be better served.
Omnichannel communication is improving the operator/tenant dynamic by allowing customers to be reached the way they prefer, through channels like text, email, phone and social media. A lead-and-collection management module can simplify this process by removing the burden of follow-up. With the flexibility to adjust message tone and frequency, you can personalize the customer experience and provide a frictionless process.
The call experience. How many times have you called a company to pay a bill and ended up being routed through a never-ending cycle of service reps? Your operation’s call experience should be designed to connect customers to what they need without roadblocks. Whether it’s directing a lead to a call-center agent, forwarding a delinquent tenant to a pay-by-phone IVR (interactive voice response), or routing a tenant to his facility manager, the experience needs to be clean and direct.
Look for a service with technology that can detect who the caller is and what he needs, and then determine the most efficient route to get him there. There are systems on the market that can take pre-loaded information to pull customer history and payment details and then funnel the caller to the right person. The key is to streamline and shorten the process.
Contactless options. Self-serve is the new normal in this digital age. It’s become quite clear that consumers want less human interaction and more DIY options. Kiosks, e-sign, pay-by-phone, and other tools have a convenience factor that can differentiate your self-storage operation from competitors.
Create a Memorable Experience
The simple truth is customers want quick, friendly service and reliable answers. By perfecting your buyer experience to leverage technology with a positive, personal touch, you’ll be able to identify opportunities, analyze trends and ensure customer loyalty.
Alissa Palmisano is marketing and communications coordinator for CallPotential, provider of a customer-relationship-management and communication platform that integrates with self-storage property-management software to produce operational insight, transparency and control. New to the self-storage industry, she has experience as a copywriter, content creator and social media enthusiast. For more information, call 877.552.2557; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is reprinted with permission from Inside Self-Storage, which has provided quality information and education to self-storage industry professionals for nearly 30 years.