How often have you been bombarded with sales pitches while on hold for a customer service representative? Armed with tons of customer data via Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, many companies continue the sales pitch once the customer service rep gets on the phone.
It’s time to focus customer service on respect, common sense and helpfulness, not sales. When a customer feels heard and supported, that’s a very powerful promotional pitch in and of itself. Following are some subtle, and not so subtle ways, to solidify customer service in self-storage:
1. Make messaging friendly, yet firm. In an effort to drive home a point, signage and written communications in your physical office can come across as borderline rude. Even little tweaks in verbiage can make a big difference in how customers perceive you. And, you can still get your point across.
For example, instead of, “Stop! Employees only,” try something like, “Please don’t enter. This is an employee-only area.” Or, change up stern warnings about damage liability to a kinder, yet clear, message like, “Your respect of our property enables us to keep your prices down.” Obviously, the rental contract needs to state that customers will be liable for damage, but a bit softer approach in onsite messaging can set a positive tone.
2. Express accountability and gratitude. This online banking statement from Denver’s Firstbank clearly presents the bank’s interest in serving customers, and engenders goodwill in the process: “We are working very hard to maintain the highest level of customer service possible. But if we make a mistake, or you receive poor service from any of our employees, we want you to let us know. Please call one of our customer representatives at 303-231-2000 (outside metro Denver: 1-800-230-1060) with any question or complaint. We will do our best to solve your problem. If our service was especially good, we’d like to hear about that, too. We welcome any suggestions you might have about new products or ways we could improve our service to you. Thank you for banking with us!”
3. Be nice, but also competent. A recent experience with another bank (the name of which is being withheld to protect the guilty) reveals all too clearly what happens when pleasant demeanor isn’t paired with legitimate know-how. In attempting to resolve an online banking snafu, a customer was repeatedly sent to different departments by very pleasant, yet clueless, customer service reps. Everyone was respectful and wanted to be helpful, but they lacked the training or know-how to get the job done. The problem didn’t get solved that day, and the customer was angry about being bounced all over the corporate arena.
4. Set expectations, then meet them. Even if everything you have to tell a customer may not be friendly or welcoming, clear communication about what to expect – and following through on promises – will give customers confidence that you will keep commitments. This clarity can be as important, or even more important, than a friendly tone.