3 Things Your Facility's Technology Should Be Doing for Your Customers
Erich Noack |December 11, 2015
The technology being developed for the self storage market is constantly growing and changing, offering you more opportunities than ever before to make your customers’ experience better. Your facility’s implementation of this technology can make or break the success of your business, boosting or hindering your company’s visibility and your ability to give your customers what they expect and need.
Your technology is already providing services to your customers, but is that technology doing everything it can to increase traffic and promote growth? Whether it’s simplifying the move-in and rental process or allowing payments to be made from home, new developments are continually making your tools more effective. Staying educated on how best to use these tools is important to making a splash in your market.
Making Your Technology Work For You
It is certainly possible to run your facility by staying within your comfort zone and using the same technology tools you have for years. The fact of the matter is, however, that those tools now have the ability to go further, functioning as a bigger, more effective part of the services you are offering. As you walk through these three questions to define your technology needs, it becomes easy to see that there are more ways you can use new and existing technology to increase your facility’s effectiveness.
1. Locating Your Services
How are your customers finding your facility and services?
The answer to this question depends a great deal on how much time and money you budget for your advertising campaigns and online presence. Online advertising accounted for 21% of all advertising in the United States in 2014 and is directly targeted to consumers who need your service. So while paper advertisements, such as billboards, newspapers, and flyers, may grant your business higher traffic rates, your online marketing can do a lot more for your visibility in your market.
Here are a few technologies that can make your facility and services appear more often to customers searching for them online:
Website – You need a website in today’s heavily web-based community. Select a provider that can build a mobile friendly site and brand that will set you apart from your competitors. Look for one who knows specifically about the online climate of the self storage industry in order to keep your site top-rated in Google and other search engine results.
Social Media – Your social media accounts play a role in your ability to attract customers by staying active in your online community. Create the standard accounts, like Twitter, Google+, and Facebook, and continue to update them with relevant material concerning your facility. Use these tools to create a dialogue among your customers, sharing links to your facility’s events and relevant blog posts.
Blog: Using a blog gives your online marketing more chances to gain links and keywords relevant to your facility. Post about facility events like updates, charity involvement, and community service, as well as storage-related resources, including your best packing tips, organization ideas, and moving tips.
Search Engine Optimization – Follow good SEO practices. If you don’t show up in search results, you cannot be found and won’t convert leads. Everything on this list adds to the collective value of your online brand. SEO places a value on how well your marketing website ranks in organic search results. The more you concentrate on the above the better your rankings will become.
2. Accomplishing Customer Goals
What are your customers trying to accomplish when they seek out your services?
Obviously, your customers come to your facility looking for more space for their belongings, whether it’s for moving or organizational purposes. Many of your customer interactions directly involve your technology, be it for paying bills, locating your phone number or offices hours, or renting an additional unit, so it only makes sense that the simplicity of the process hinges on how useful that technology is.
Here are some technologies to think about when trying to improve the interface between your customer and your technology:
Self Service Centers: Think about your demographic, customer traffic rates, and the state of your staff. Consider adding a self service station to supplement your staff’s abilities. Customers can use this technology to quickly rent a unit or pay their bill, freeing up time in the office. Keep in mind that this service does not have to have a physical presence in your office, but can also be an online feature.
Management Software: Your management software should be doing a number of things, including keeping detailed lists of your leads and tenants, processing payments, and speeding up the move-in and move-out processes. For your customers, the software will show the latest inventories, as well as simplify the move-in and move-out processes. Look for a software that provides the best features and usability for the price.
Integration – Be sure that all of your separate pieces of technology are integrated, including your gate software, your website, and your management software. All of your technology should be able to communicate with one another; for example, your website should be tracking your leads and recording them within your management software. Look for this and other helpful features to make keeping records easier.
3. Meeting Customer Expectations
What do your customers expect when it comes to the technology your facility uses?
New customers, especially from the millennial generation, are looking for quick, clean, and efficient technology that allows them to engage and interact with the brand more directly across multiple media and devices. It’s important to offer that generation the ability to use your services in the way they are most comfortable.
As you select new or upgrade your existing technology, take into account the below suggestions to continue to attract new customers:
Branding Coherence – When you have a wide variety of tools, (website, management software, self service center, etc.), it’s important that these tools all adhere to a set branding message. Your customers will appreciate this familiarity, even if they aren’t thinking about it directly. Choose a company that can build a customer website or provides tools that are seamless across multiple platforms.
24-hour Service: Consider providing your self service center in an area of your office that can be accessed 24 hours a day, such as a vestibule or outside booth. If this isn’t feasible for your facility, consider other ways you can provide 24-hour service to your customers, like online move-in capabilities.
Innovation: Many self storage providers are popping up around the country, offering the same services you offer but in an unmanned format. These locations have self service Rental Centers and call centers to answer questions, rather than regular office hours. This is the extreme, but it’s a presentation of the power these technology tools have and may inspire you to think about how you approach the technology at your property.
Finally, the self storage industry is not alone in utilizing new technology to attract customers. To speed up their processes and give control back to their customers, both restaurants and cell phone providers are implementing self service technology into their everyday operations. Consider the benefits these industries are tapping into to help drive your decision to alter or upgrade your facility’s technology tools.
Technology’s Return on Investment
Once you have taken the time to evaluate your facility’s technology, it may become clear that an update is necessary to bring certain aspects current. This may be a difficult conclusion to come to, especially since it probably means spending some money. Focusing on the benefits outlined above can help you to understand the return on investment that these tools can offer. Making the decision to alter your technology can increase your costs but will also increase your revenue, thereby more than covering that investment.
While the world of technology is constantly undulating and shifting, staying abreast of the opportunities in new technology can mean the difference between success and failure. The climate of the self storage industry is changing, as is the customer, their needs, and their expectations. Keeping your facility current and your technology tools up-to-date will do wonders for your online presence and your business, thereby making the decision to make an investment an easy one.