Story by Chris Burnam on Forbes.com

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, it’s not enough to just have the best products — it’s about the customer experience. I’ve explored customer service in the past, but it’s time we holistically examine the entire customer experience.

In the self-storage industry, people utilize facilities for a multitude of reasons, but it typically involves a major life change. Whether it be moving to a new city, the loss of a loved one, a change in relationship status or just a change in lifestyle, people use storage as a solution to their problems. In times of transition, it’s imperative that storage companies provide not only a clean space for customers’ belongings but also an experience that makes them feel valued, reassured and satisfied.

The need to store can be stressful, so renew your focus on the customer journey. Every single touchpoint is an opportunity to make the customer’s life easier, whether it be in-person, online or through a 24/7 call service. Employees have the extraordinary opportunity to make a tumultuous time in someone’s life a little less stressful.

Those who work directly with our customers are some of the most important members of our team. Customer service exemplifies the values and mission of a company and makes the lasting impressions that urge customers to leave reviews, recommend the company to friends, store with the business again or just leave with a smile on their faces. Simple gestures can make all the difference for a brand. Chick-fil-A is famous for going above and beyond for its customers, but it all starts with responding with “my pleasure” anytime they are thanked. Disney Parks, Experiences and Products employees know never to point with only one finger, but instead to use two and avoid offending anyone. How is it that many people know requirements such as these, having never worked for either company? It’s because the experience of being cared for resonates with people long after they’ve left your business.

But what about online? How do you make a lasting impression digitally? It’s all about convenience, transparency and consistency. Make it easy to get the answers your customers need online while also providing a space where they can learn who you are and the quality of your product. A customer should notice no difference in quality of service among phone, online and in-person interactions. Our digital presence is an extension of who we are — not a watered-down version. And we’re always exploring new ways to solve problems for our customers like the use of AI chatbots to answer questions on our website and voice technology to guide customers through determining what size storage unit they need.

Improving customer experience will also edge any business above the competition. Self-storage is a saturated market, but you can excel by offering every convenience. Customers can contact us through whichever medium is easiest for them, count on a unit that passes our white glove test and feel secure storing with us, but all of that will fall short if they’re not working with people who can guide them along and make their experience enjoyable.

Ensure every aspect of your business is easy, convenient and memorable. Businesses that can provide a positive experience for customers are the ones that stay competitive. How is Best Buy still in business with Amazon as a competitor? Why do people consistently fly on Southwest Airlines? How can no one go into Target and just buy one thing? In my opinion, these businesses thrive, in part, because they have created an experience the customer enjoys and remembers. It is imperative for any business to offer the best service possible during every single customer interaction.

There’s no excuse for lagging behind in this area. Amazon is not only one of the largest companies in the world, but it’s also primarily online, and yet it’s consistently ranked as one of the best customer service providers. H-E-B is a regional grocer, but it’s nationally famous for offering superior service. Dollar Shave Club is a relatively small monthly subscription service, but the way it provides for its customers has grown the brand significantly in recent years.

It is the duty of every member of a business to embody the values that make for a positive customer experience. Focus on what makes your customers loyal to your brand, and don’t rest until you have perfected your practice.


Source: Forbes.com

Thumbnail: Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels


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Chris Burnam

Cris Burnam has been the President of StorageMart since 1999 but has been working in the self storage industry since 1987 when he was closely tied to real estate deals for the growing family storage business. As President, Cris oversees all aspects of the organization, with a strong focus on long-term planning and goal setting. Throughout his tenure with the company, Cris has overseen several periods of unprecedented growth as StorageMart developed from a single store in Columbia, MO to the largest privately-owned self storage company in the world. The short list of accomplishments includes acquisition projects like bringing 60+ Canadian InStorage properties into the StorageMart family in 2008 and the largest self storage commercial backed re-capitalization transaction in history in 2015. Most recently, the company has expanded into the United Kingdom as Cris and the executive team at StorageMart completed the acquisition of Big Box Storage, the fifth largest storage company in the United Kingdom. Over the years, his strong entrepreneurial spirit has earned Cris recognition locally and nationally. After being named Ingram’s Magazine One of the 50 Missourians You Should Know, Cris was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year for 2014. The same year, StorageMart earned the Torch Award from the Better Business Bureau for outstanding ethics. Through three decades in the industry, Cris has completed over $4.5 billion dollars in Self Storage transactions, making a true mark on an industry valued at more than $32 billion annually. Outside of work, Cris lives in Columbia, MO, with his wife, Jennifer, and three sons. The Burnam Family has been an important force in the self storage industry for three generations and are proud to continue the family business into the next generation on a new level.