7 Costly client-Service problems in Self-Storage and How to Handle Them

June 15, 2019

Self-storage owners often catch themselves in complicated customer-service situations. Here are seven common scenarios you may face and guidance on how to tackle them in a good way.
Stacie Maxwell | Jun 29, 2019

If you are a self-storage operator who deals with clients, you may encounter situations in which a customer is unsatisfied and you are in the spotlight to fix his problem. Knowing how to tackle these difficult interactions takes a bit of skill, a dash of experience, a whole lot of understanding and the ability to see things from the customer’s point of view. Here are seven “deadly” circumstances you may face and guidance on how to tackle each.

1. You Made a Mistake or Must Provide Bad News
You receive a telephone call from a customer who was expected to move into his unit on Sunday, but the vacancy lock was never removed, and he couldn’t do so. Yikes! This is clearly a manager error, one that might even result in disciplinary action. To reduce the negative impact on the tenant and company, the at-fault party needs to react fast.

The very first step is to place your pride aside and evaluate the situation objectively. How would you feel if this happened to you? Apologize and let the customer know you feel bad about the error. Being truthful and letting them know you also would be upset shows empathy and understanding.

Next, let them know you are doing whatever is required to fix the error, or that you are willing to facilitate contact with the appropriate parties. Tell them when to expect a resolution. Then, whatever you do, make sure the problem gets solved!

In the illustration above, the response is to remove the vacancy lock immediately and do what’s required to make the customer “whole.” Did he invest cash on a mover or rental truck? You need to reimburse his lost expense or arrange to move them into the unit free of charge. Making the customer whole is key to gaining forgiveness when mistakes are made.

The same process is applicable if you must give a customer bad news. “I catch that when you have to relay hard information, it is just best to be honest and straightforward. I’ve had to do this with a flood and fire, and it is never easy,” says Tammy Hamrick, manager Vigilant Self Storage in Richmond, Va.

2. You do not Have an response
Have you ever encountered a situation in which you did not have an immediate response to a customer inquiry or issue? Maybe you were newer and still training. In any case, simply telling a customer you “don’t know” isn’t acceptable. A much better course of action is to tell them you are going to investigate the question and get back to them. No one can be expected to know everything, so this is fair.

However, it is important to follow through in a prompt manner. If a bit of time goes by and you still don’t have an response, follow up with the customer to let them know you haven’t forgotten them and are still working on a solution. Set yourself a reminder and reach out to the customer either way. A quick e-mail works great for this purpose and produces a paper trail of correspondence.

3. The client Demands a Full Refund
Sometimes there’s just no winning and the only way to resolve a situation is to give in. When you’ve tried everything and the customer insists on having his cash back, the best thing you can do is give it to them.

Apologize and let the customer know you are initiating a refund request. Tell them when to expect the refund and by which means (check, a credit to his bank account or credit card, or even cash). Your company needs an internal procedure for processing refunds efficiently. You don’t want to lose any goodwill you’ve gained in providing the refund due to sloppy and slow execution.

From a company point of view, refunds aren’t ideal and can be distressing; but as a representative of a reputable company, you should be prepared to keep your word. Chances are, you’ll rarely need to make a refund of any type.