Customer Service Imperatives for Automated Facilities

By: Alexander Harris  
On May 19, 2023  
Storage Monitor  

Happy customer service

Customer service plays a crucial role in the success of any self-storage business, and remotely managed facilities are no exception. With the rise of automated facilities, where human interaction is limited, providing an exceptional customer experience can be an even more critical aspect of running a storage business.

Achieving great customer service in an unmanned environment requires a differentiated approach from typical face-to-face interactions. The lack of direct human interaction and potential communication gaps can hinder effective problem-solving and the ability to address tenant concerns promptly. That is why it is essential to develop strategies that bridge these gaps.

The following customer service imperatives for automated facilities will set you up for success when it comes to your self-storage business:

Be there when you’re needed.

Most tenants of a remote facility will probably never need any type of assistance, but when the need arises—you need to be available. This can make all the difference in a customer having a terrible time at your facility or having a great experience and becoming an evangelist for your brand. Here’s how to be there, even when you’re not:

  • Provide multiple channels for tenant inquiries, such as email, chat, or phone. This allows tenants to choose the method most convenient for them.
  • Have an area manager or call center answer the phones and respond to messages.
  • With high-quality facility management software, you can set up customized automated responses to let your customers know you have received their message via text or email and that you will get back to them shortly. Just make sure you don’t leave them hanging!
  • Some customers will occasionally need onsite assistance and it is important to have a responsible party on call during business hours that can get there quickly.

Engage with tenants proactively.

In a traditionally managed facility, tenant engagement happens naturally all the time. With a remotely managed-facility, building positive bonds between you and your tenants is a bit trickier as you will have to rely on digital communication to develop a connection. Try these strategies:

  • Ask your customer for their communication preferences, whether they prefer to be contacted by phone, text or email. Honor these wishes and only contact tenants using their preferred method.
  • Provide regular updates and notifications about facility operations, such as major repair work or temporary closures. This can help foster transparency and trust.
  • Conduct satisfaction surveys or send a link to customers to leave you a review on Google or Facebook. This information can provide valuable insights and help identify areas for improvement. Plus, more online reviews can boost your reputation and online visibility.

Help tenants help themselves.

Some customers will choose your facility because it’s close to their house, or it offers the best prices. Some customers may choose to rent from your unmanned facility because they prefer not to make small talk with someone behind a desk. Whatever the situation, it is important to enable customers to help themselves whenever possible, avoiding the need for support in the first place.

  • Offer a tenant portal online where customers can pay their bill and download their rental contract.
  • Provide information on your website regarding policies, directions, and frequently asked questions.
  • Use automated texts to let customers know their rent is due to avoid late payment penalties. 
  • Chatbots can be employed to deliver quick and accurate responses to common tenant inquiries. These chatbots can handle routine tasks and frequently asked questions, freeing up human customer service representatives to focus on more complex issues.

Make sure tenants are protected.

If there is an unexpected catastrophic event at your facility you will want to make sure as many of your tenants as possible are covered by insurance—for all of your sakes. Offering an affordable and comprehensive tenant insurance policy at the point of sale is a smart way to preempt a potential customer service nightmare at your facility. While losing their items to theft or fire would be absolutely horrible, it would be even worse if they weren’t compensated by the insurance plan you offered them at the time of rental.

Implementing Best Practices

To ensure effective customer service in remotely managed facilities, it is essential to implement the following best practices:

  • Develop a comprehensive customer service strategy tailored to the unique challenges of remote management.
  • Invest in robust technological solutions that facilitate communication and streamline processes.
  • Train customer service representatives to handle remote management situations and address tenant concerns effectively.
  • Constantly monitor and analyze customer service performance to identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes.
  • Require tenants to insure their stored items with a policy you sell or one of their own.

Solving the Remotely-Managed Customer Service Conundrum

In the new era of automated facilities, exceptional customer service remains a cornerstone for success. By prioritizing streamlined communication, proactive tenant engagement, personalized assistance and offering tenant insurance, remotely managed facilities can ensure tenant satisfaction and protect their best interests.