Keeping customers happy is not just a good idea—it’s vital for business. According to a report from Oracle, 89 percent of consumers switched to a different company after receiving poor customer service.
These days, creating an avenue for positive communication with self-storage customers isn’t necessarily limited to answering phone calls and attending to on-site matters. It also might involve introducing text messaging as another way for current and potential tenants to communicate about self-storage issues.
“Adding an option of sending a text to a number your company already has, such as a phone number or toll-free number, gives customers two easy ways to reach you at one place,” said Aaron Beals, marketing manager at Ring Ring LLC, a provider of telecommunications services.
Furthermore, 64 percent of people who text favor texting over calling for customer service, according to a survey from OneReach.
Here’s a look at how text messages can be worked into your business model, as well as what to think about before adding a texting feature for your self-storage facility.
Receiving Text Messages
“A lot of times I only talk to people by text,” said Tom Crawford, who owns Lima Mini Storage in Lima, NY. “They’ll text me to see what’s available and what the rate is.”
Crawford’s facility provides a number that consumers can call or text.
Many of the issues covered via text are similar to those that are asked over the phone. For new tenants, after information on prices and units is sent, a face-to-face appointment to fill out paperwork can be set up.
Crawford said routine questions can be answered quickly via text, and in some cases, the option can lead to more sales. For instance, if it’s Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock and a customer needs a unit right away, that person can easily reach the facility via text. “If they can get ahold of me, I get the business,” Crawford said.
Sending Text Messages
Establishing a texting feature also can make it more efficient to reach customers. For instance, rather than making a call to inform a tent about past-due rent, a text can be sent.
“It’s an easier way to get in contact with customers who are delinquent,” said Christopher Page, partner at Thomasville Self Storage in Thomasville, GA.
Page’s facility has a mobile office, with operations carried out by cellphone and online. The company uses a Google Voice number, allowing text messaging as an option to communicate with customers. That can be especially helpful when past-due customers might be avoiding a facility’s phone calls.
Before adding texting features, you’ll want to research the options. For instance, a cellphone or Google Voice number might include a text messaging function.
Other setups, such as an established landline, might not include the texting option. You may need to consider creating a different number or trying an additional service, such as CallFire or TextMagic. Ring Ring offers texting capabilities as well.
Another service, known as XpressCollect, automatically notifies customers about late payments; each message includes a link for paying the overdue rent.
“The ability to text them a reminder about when their rent is due and provide them with a very effortless experience in making that payment can save a manager a phenomenal amount of time,” said Robert Chiti, president and CEO of Open Tech Alliance, whose self-storage offerings include XpressCollect.
If you add texting features, ask new tenants whether they’re giving you their cellphone number, Page said. That way, you’ll know whether you can communicate with them via text.
Beal emphasized that if you do arrange for text messaging, you should be prepared to reply to texts via phone, computer or tablet. “In many areas, texting has become more common than a phone call—especially for the younger generation—and that [usage] is going up and up every day,” he said.
Two bottom photos courtesy of Flickr/Adam Fagen