Technology should be easy to use. It’s that simple. Yet, there are so many storage facility software programs out there that you can’t really dig into until you’ve been trained on them. Even then, these products often come with lengthy support manuals filled with technical jargon and hours of videos to get you up to speed on the use of the software.

That’s all well and good, but shouldn’t software come with a great team of people to assist you as you learn the product? Not everyone seems to think so. This practice isn’t something that’s seen everywhere in the storage industry, so I decided to dig into the matter and find out how much tech support matters to owners and managers in self storage.

Service can make all the difference

Browse the forums at Self-Storage Talk and you’ll quickly find that bad support can frustrate operators and affect their businesses, sometimes leading them to leave their current provider and begin working with another company altogether. Meanwhile, good support can be an influencing factor in an operator’s choice to go with a particular provider, even if the features or price don’t align with their original needs.

Think about the companies you choose to do business with in your personal life. A fancy restaurant can have remarkable cuisine and an impressive reputation, but if your server is rude to you and you feel more like a number than a person, how likely are you to return? When was the last time you swore off shopping at a certain website or working with a certain bank because their team was unwilling or unable to help you when you needed it most?

Well, you aren’t alone. Though people can’t always put their finger on what makes a good company great, quality customer service drives an astounding amount of their purchasing decisions. Check out some of these statistics collected by Huffington Post:

  • Price is not the main reason for customer turnover. It is actually the overall poor quality of customer service that leads people to leave.

  • A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related rather than price- or product-related.

  • 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain; however, 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.

  • 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

  • 55% of customers would pay extra to guarantee a better service.

  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.

So maybe there’s some justification to your frustration when you want to walk out the door during a poor interaction with the people who are supposed to be helping you.

Support is particularly important in the tech world

Even if you’re a computer guru, support can play a huge role in your business’ success. Especially if the software we’re talking about is your self storage management software, filled with private customer data and all the analytics you rely on to determine your next big business decision.

Again, it turns out that you’re not crazy if bad tech support is bringing you down. On average, you lose 33 hours per year to technical glitches like IT outages, breakdowns, and software or hardware failures. The good news is that you don’t have to add even more hours to that number by arguing with support staff on the phone, waiting through a live chat to find the issue, or turning through pages of reading material that may not even describe the issue. You can — and should be able to — pick up the phone, dial a number, and connect directly with your friendly, dedicated account manager or support team. That’s the philosophy we have at storEDGE and we’ve already seen our customers benefit from it. Check out their stories below.

Case study: Interstate Storage

Stephanie Winfree manages Interstate Storage in Greenville, South Carolina. Mistakes can happen anytime. Interestingly enough, mistakes seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. Stephanie was at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas when the manager filling in for her accidentally receipted a payment multiple times, then proceeded to close the day without informing anyone.

What would you do in that situation? Perhaps you could call your software provider and hope to get on the line with someone who has the power and desire to help you. You could call your facility and ask the manager filing in for you to read some support material to correct the problem themselves. Well, Stephanie works with us at storEDGE, and here’s what she did:

“There were two storEDGE project managers at the conference who were able to assist me in resolving the problem. They walked me through the necessary steps and the issue was resolved in a few simple clicks. Having members of the storEDGE team there and also having the capability to access the software from anywhere saved me from having to clean up what could have been an issue that would have skewed the accuracy of the facility’s financials.” As she recalled this particular memory, Stephanie added, “In addition to the project managers, I have received the same support when I have called in needing assistance. The storEDGE support team truly cares about their customers.”

A storEDGE team member assisting a storage operator at a trade show

Can you say the same of your software provider?

Case study: Strawfloor Self Storage

While Stephanie’s experience involved a specific event that required support assistance immediately, Daren Berry of Strawfloor Self Storage in Jonesboro, Arkansas was new to the storage industry and uncomfortable with technology, so he needed a solution that worked and a team that would back him up. I got on the phone with Daren and here’s the conversation we had:

Amy: How has your experience been working with the storEDGE support team, just in a general sense?

Daren: It’s been great. I’m not the best with computer skills or messing with the software. Anytime I’ve had trouble I get help from the storEDGE team. Everybody that I’ve talked to has been great as far as getting into the computer and solving the issue for me.

Amy: What difference has your management software made in the way you run your company?

Daren: I operate a brand new facility in Jonesboro. When we were under construction, I hired a man named Brad from a management company that manages 30-40 facilities in Arkansas and nearby states. Brad told me about the other software providers out there, and then one of his software guys brought up storEDGE, saying it was a new company. I wrote that down in my notes.

I looked at the other software out there. When I was trying to figure it out, there were hours of videos to watch. It was just me, without very much computer knowledge, and I was racking my brain. I was almost afraid to open up this business thinking I was never going to figure out the software. Then I looked up the software at storEDGE. To me, it’s like the iPhone. It’s easy to find the answers in the software and it’s very user friendly, especially for someone who doesn't have a lot of background working with computers.

Amy: Definitely. I’m glad to hear that. I work in the marketing department with the designers who designed our management software and I know that’s something they thought a lot about: Any kind of user with any kind of computer experience can get on there and do what they’re trying to do. It’s laid out in a way that makes sense to everyone and it doesn’t require you to watch hours of videos or pull out a big manual.

Daren: Exactly. storEDGE has also constantly been releasing updates. I also have a website with storEDGE and have received a lot of compliments on how professional it looks. When we first created my site, I was on page three in search results. Now I’m the third one on page one. My facility is smaller with only 200 units, but I’ve added a nice sign, landscaping, and fresh concrete around the facility, and your professional photos of these on my website make the property look so much nicer. It shows my customers that we’re more well kept instead of industrial.

Strawfloor Self Storage has updated signage and landscaping to attract customers

Amy: That kind of consistent experience for your customers is so important, too, when they pull up to your company or look you up online and both look really professional.

Daren: Well a lot of businesses in this town are super behind right now. Many of them don’t even have websites and, at best, are listed on a generic page online somewhere. I think a lot of business owners have the mentality that if you have a building and low rates, people will come. I think that’s wrong. You don’t have to have the cheapest rates to make your business appealing. You can charge a little more because people want to be somewhere that’s well kept and professional.

Stop settling for less

Honestly, the best way to test out a company’s support team is to get on the phone with them. See how their team relates to you and ask to view a demo of their products. Or, read about other operators’ experiences with a certain company. What if you’re already using software that you’re unhappy with? You don’t have to settle.

By allowing yourself to regularly look into the options out there, one of two things will happen:

  1. You’ll find a better solution that solves your problems and makes your life easier.

  2. You’ll feel more confident that your current software is the right option for you.

I challenge you to look around. Who knows — you could find a company that agrees with you when you think “I deserve better than this.”