Picture a prospective tenant walking into your front office. Your manager is attentive, setting down her paperwork at the ringing of the bell. She gives the customer a beaming smile (impressive, given the number of collections calls she still has to make today), and says, “Good afternoon! What can I help you with?”
The tenant rents a clean self storage unit for a competitive rate, settles in, and everybody’s happy. You pride yourself on great customer service. You and your managers always go out of their way to help your tenants. Everyone who rents with you compliments you on it. You’ve even got five stars on Google and Yelp.
But your occupancy rate isn’t where it needs to be. Why?
Customer service has always been important, especially for local businesses where word-of-mouth creates a reputation that can make or break your business. But as technology advances, our customers’ preferences change with it. A smiling face and attentive manager are still important, but they’re no longer enough.
You need great customer service, but you also need to create a great customer experience.
Customer Experience vs Customer Service
The term “customer service” generally refers to how your customer is treated while they do business with you. Customer experience, on the other hand, encompasses the entire customer journey, which begins when your customer first realizes they’ve got too much stuff in their house.
Crafting a great customer experience can take a lot of work, but if you master it, you’ll not only improve your unit occupancy rate, you’ll also improve your economic occupancy rates too — fulfilling your establishment’s potential.
Customer experience includes:
- ensuring the customer finds your solution to their problem,
- making it easy for the customer to do business with you,
- providing great customer service (still important!),
- and encouraging the tenant to share their experience.
Service, experience, SEO, journey — everything your business does should be aimed towards one goal: solving your customer’s problems. This is the foundation of inbound marketing. There are a million details to work out, but if you do a good job serving your customers, success will flow from there.
Making Your Solution Visible
If a potential customer doesn’t know you exist, you won’t be able to solve their problem.
Let’s assume you have the cleanest self storage units in the area at the best rates, with all the top amenities. Anyone with extra furniture to store, an estate sale to plan for, or an RV to get out of their driveway would be lucky to find you.
Now picture your potential customer at the first step of their journey. With a room full of heirloom furniture that won’t fit in their new home, what are they to do? Buying a bigger house would be too expensive. They use a search engine (probably Google), but not overwhelmingly so) to find a better solution.
Self storage units? There we go.
Is the self storage facility sitting on their phone screen yours? If not, are you at least one of the top options? Click-through rate decreases dramatically the further you get from the first result. If you’re one of the three local pack results, you can expect to take a share of 32.3 percent of the clicks.
Key local ranking tips:
- Ensure your info is accurate
- Fill out all the data
- Add photos
- Manage and respond to reviews
Make Doing Business Easy
Big companies and new technology have not just moved the target, they’ve shifted the entire playing field. Customers want to do business online, instantaneously.
Amazon went as far as to patent one-click shopping, because customers preferred that so much more than two-, three- or four-click shopping. Apple paid Amazon significant amounts of money to be able to offer one-click shopping.
Self storage is notoriously slow to adopt new technology, but our time has come. The vast majority of your customers want the self storage rental process to be quick, easy and completed in as few clicks as possible.
The little interaction from before, where a potential customer walked in to rent a unit? Customers prefer to have a unit rented before that scenario ever occurs.
Online rentals mean your guests don’t have to meet anyone, make any extra trips, or take more time out of their day. Moving, mourning,and downsizing are all stressful events. Renting a self storage unit from you shouldn’t add any stress.
Provide Great Customer Service
When customers do interact with your business, do your best to ensure they have a good experience. You know this already, but it’s important. If your customers aren’t happy with your business, the next step is impossible.
Encourage Your Customers to Share Their Experience
This is the “sticking the landing” of great customer service. If you can convince your satisfied customers to leave reviews on Google, Yelp, Bing, whatever, you’ll be generating momentum for future customers to also find your solution.
Search engines value the reviews your customers leave, and customers value the recommendations of their peers, even if the reviews are anonymous. Less than half of consumers will even consider using a business with less than a four-star rating.
Here are a few simple ways to generate customer reviews:
- Include a link to a review site in emails, texts and bills.
- Have a link to a review site on your website.
- Personally invite customers to review your business after positive interactions.
Customer reviews capitalize on your great customer service and spin it into energy driving new customers your way.
Customer service alone is no longer enough to maximize your business. If you’re treading water through word of mouth and customer service alone, that’s fantastic — but you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. By optimizing your customer experience, you’ll be able to increase your economic occupancy rates as well as your unit occupancy. And all of this can be done with the same spirit that leads to great customer service, which is helping the customer.
After all, the goal is to solve people’s problems. If you can master that art, including the parts where the customer isn’t in your front office, your business will thrive.