The coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest continue to dominate news headlines and our collective attention. Ongoing disruption to our personal lives, daily routines, and employment situations has increased stress levels nationwide. Tasks that should be simple may seem difficult, and interactions that should be benign may become toxic.
Self-storage business owners are adapting to the “new normal” with changes to operational procedures and customer interactions. While it may not be spelled out in state or local guidance for doing business during these challenging times, one of the most effective tools in a business owner’s kit is one of the most basic: quality customer service.
This is an ideal time for self-storage operators to reinforce the company’s values and model the behaviors that promote those values and lead to positive outcomes for staff and customers. Here are some ideas to consider.
Lead With Compassion
Enhance team members’ awareness of the stress and uncertainty that customers may be facing when they enter the self-storage facility, make a phone call, or send an email. Facility employees are likely experiencing some element of stress in their own lives. Compassion and patience are important factors in this discussion. A customer’s experience of a business can be made better with the application of respectful customer service. This is an opportunity to do the right thing for customers, solidify productive relationships, and build the business all at the same time.
Reinforce With Training
Increasing the frequency of staff training helps to reinforce the message and provides added opportunities for discussion of specific interactions or incidents. In some cases, a brief online meeting, perhaps weekly, can serve as an operational update and training session with the added bonus of giving owners and senior managers a chance to check in with facility personnel. They are all experiencing added stress right now, too.
Perform Diligent Ongoing Maintenance
Stressed-out customers may react harshly to anything that they perceive as putting further pressure on them during this time. For example, if a customer should slip and fall on the premises causing a painful injury, their reaction may be more severe under the current conditions. To avoid the risk of potentially serious claims or other negative occurrences, make the effort to minimize and prevent these situations by revisiting the basics of timely maintenance and premise inspections multiple times each day. Some of the key areas to consider include walkways, driveways, steps and stairs, lighting, security gates, fencing, roofing, signage, and fire prevention. As a reminder while inspecting the premises, always practice social distancing and other safety precautions.
Focusing on customer service basics is a good idea at any time. However, with the uncertainty and disruption being experienced, it is more important than ever to be aware of the pressures under which self-storage customers and team members are operating and to conduct business with an attitude of respect, patience, and compassion.
President and CEO