Re-Evaluating Our Views on Customer Service
Amy Daniels |May 31, 2013
It happens to the best of us. You work at a job where your success depends on your ability to play nice with people. You want your customers to like you and you want to cater to every whim and desire. Yet, when a dispute arises, you find yourself twisting your logic to justify the anger you begin to feel and your business suffers because of it.
As you nod your head and recollect one of your more embarrassing memories, consider what the deep workings of your brain know to be true about customer service and how this knowledge is relevant in the self storage industry.
WHY IS POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCH A BIG DEAL?
When you’re in moments of frustration, it may be easy to tell yourself that you can afford to lose “just one customer” or that “if he’s going to be like that, I don’t want him as a tenant anyway.” In your natural state, you know these thoughts don’t help at all. Consider the importance of keeping your customers happy:
It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.
News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good experience.
It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels he is being treated.
A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9 and 15 people about his experience.
81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition.
Wow. I would add, business aside, we have all been customers at one point. You know that providing good customer service is not only essential for success – you know that it’s the right thing to do.
CUSTOMER SERVICE IN THE SELF STORAGE INDUSTRY
Okay, so, raise your hand if your storage facility isn’t the only one in town. Gotcha. Providing exceptional customer service is particularly important in the storage industry because your customers have a lot of options. The moment that you let a complaint slip by unnoticed, you can bet that the tenant will start looking for a new place to store his belongings.
Another aspect to consider is that good customer service can set your company apart. Many facilities are offering great amenities like 24-hour access, climate control, and clean units, so potential renters may feel that choosing a property can be a quick or random decision.
What you strive for, of course, is to stand out so that your brand is the clear choice for all renters in the area. You may spend hours of time trying to figure out a complex marketing promotion to do this, but perhaps the answer is really quite simple.
Well, that gives your marketing strategy a concise focus, doesn’t it?
WHAT CAN WE DO DIFFERENTLY?
Start with the basics. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were the renter. You like it when people remember (and use) your name. You like when they respond promptly and appropriately to your calls and emails, and you like to be understood. Your customers want all the same things from you.
Don’t ignore the vibes. How many times have you sensed that a business interaction wasn’t going well, but didn’t know what to do about it? It may be easier to ignore your customer’s nonverbal cues than it is to address them. Rather than assume that the problem will simply go away, you can ask simple questions like, “How is your day going?” and “What can I do to make your experience great today?” Taking the time to ask may be enough to placate hurt feelings before they swell into an uncontrollable argument.
Utilize social media. You’ve heard time and time again that social media can be a great tool to boost business – and it is. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are extremely helpful in getting to know your renters from a distance. And when you engage with these customers in a meaningful way online, they are likely to spend 20% to 40% more money with our brand.
Hire the right people. Once you become a manager that has mastered the laws of good customer service, it’s absolutely crucial that you hire staff with the same vision. In an interview, you mustn’t forget the importance of gauging a potential staff member’s social skills. Sure, most anyone will need some training and mistakes will inevitably be made, but hiring a capable individual who cares about people will go a long way in preventing poor customer service moments.
Adopt the proper perspective. Underneath it all, you must remember that your customers are helping you even when they aren’t meaning to. When a customer approaches you with a complaint, there are two questions to consider: “How can I resolve this situation in a way that leaves my customer feeling satisfied?” and “What does this situation reveal about my business that I can improve?” When you understand that even a furious customer has the ability offer some level of helpful critique, you can tackle the situation with a grander sense of optimism.
There are probably a lot of things that you could change to improve your facility’s customer service. Take a look at where you and your staff could use some work, read the reviews left by your renters, and check out resources from Help Scout and blogs by Fonolo.
Whether you’re meeting with an interested lead, collecting rent from current customers, or answering phone and email inquiries, adopt some of these principles and see what other creative methods you can use to become the leading storage facility in your city.