Consumers value exceptional customer experiences — and companies that prioritize the customer experience are positioned to reap the rewards. Across industries 84% of businesses that take steps to improve the customer experience achieve a boost in revenue.
In the self-storage industry, the customer experience is quickly becoming a competitive factor, especially in crowded local markets. But before you can improve your customer experience, you need to view the customer experience through the eyes of a typical tenant.
The Modern Self-Storage Customer Experience
To better understand your tenants’ needs and expectations, let’s take a look at our fictional friend Martin’s customer journey, a typical self-storage tenant. Like many local residents, Martin needs a place to store household items, furniture, and other valuables. He’s worried about the safety of his possessions, and with plenty of providers to choose from, he’s looking for a facility that offers the right combination of security, convenience, and price.
Reserving a Unit
Martin’s first step is to identify the self-storage facility that’s the best fit for his needs. Location matters, but he wants to make sure the facility he chooses will protect his possessions and maintain proper security when he’s off-site. Since he doesn’t have time to visit facilities in person, he conducts his search online.
After he identifies a site that seems promising, Martin wants to understand pricing and reserve a unit that meets his needs. Although he doesn’t want to commit to the unit until he sees it in person, he’s also interested in paying for the unit online. He’s not interested in mailing a check or visiting the facility to make his payment each month.
Key Takeaway: Online convenience matters to your customers, but online rentals convert at a lower rate than reservations because they require a higher level of commitment. If you provide online reservations, you can maximize the number of new leads by offering prospective tenants a unit at a fixed price without forcing them to feel locked in.
An online payment portal allows you to accept your tenant payments directly from their bank or credit card account via a module on your website. An autopay feature is also beneficial for both your tenants and your business because it provides your tenants with a convenient, safe, and inexpensive way to pay rent while improving your ability to collect recurring payments.
Accessing the Facility
Martin loads up a rental truck and prepares to move his possessions into his newly acquired rental unit. But as he approaches the facility, he realizes he’s forgotten his access code. So, he goes back home, retrieves his access code, and heads back to the facility.
At the gate, he has to get out of the truck to enter his code in the keypad, even though it’s raining. Soaking wet, he drives to his unit. But he wonders if there’s an easier way to access the facility, and in the back of his mind, he’s questioning whether or not he selected the right facility.
Key Takeaway: A tenant-facing mobile app eliminates the need for tenants to get out of their vehicles at the gate. It also mitigates the challenges associated with lost keys or forgotten access codes. A mobile app’s convenience helps create a convenient and reliable interaction at your facility and gives tenants increased visibility into their site activity.
By equipping tenants with the ability to perform essential tasks from their mobile devices, you can significantly improve your ability to attract high-value tenants and retain them over the long term.
After a few weeks, Martin decides to create additional space in his house by storing some antiques in his rental unit. The antiques have monetary and personal value for Martin, but he needs the space, and his rental unit is the logical place to store them.
As he accesses his unit, he starts to have second thoughts. Is his unit secure enough to store antiques? How will he know if someone accesses his unit when he’s not there? How will the site supervisor know if someone breaks into his unit?
Key Takeaway: Your tenants are as unique as their belongings, and each of them wants to know their possessions are secure from threats inside and outside the facility. An individualized security solution adds an extra layer of protection to the unit door and ensures that your tenants’ possessions are monitored continuously.
From individual door alarms to wireless smart locks, there are several door security solutions that can enhance your customer experience and position you ahead of the competition.
Achieving Peace of Mind
Martin is generally satisfied with the facility and visits his rental unit several times a month. But now that he understands the routine, he sees the potential for shady characters to damage the site or even access his unit.
He wonders what measures are in place to respond to security incidents. Does the site operator call the police after an event occurs, or can site managers respond to events as they happen? If the site operator can’t demonstrate real-time response capabilities, he will consider moving his possessions to a different facility just to enjoy peace of mind.
Key Takeaway: A cloud-based access control solution offers increased engagement for self-storage operations. With the cloud, operators can quickly respond to both security incidents and requests from onsite visitors with the ability to customize notification settings, open gates and doors, and review site activity from any location with an internet connection.
Whether site owners and managers are stuck at home or on vacation, they can oversee facility operations and ensure a seamless customer experience without any hassles.
Although every self-storage tenant has unique needs and expectations, Martin’s experience represents the typical customer journey. Cleanliness and location are table stakes for Martin and other self-storage tenants —while security and convenience are differentiators.
Cloud-based technologies drive exceptional customer experiences in today’s self-storage industry because they improve security and convenience. Implementing key technologies at every stage of the customer journey significantly increases your ability to attract new tenants and retain them over the long term.