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

Self-storage managers often find themselves in complicated customer-service problems. Here are seven typical scenarios you might face and advice on how to handle them in a positive way.
Stacie Maxwell | Jun 29, 2019

If you’re a self-storage agent who deals with customers, you might encounter problems in which a customer is unsatisfied and you’re in the spotlight to fix his problem. Knowing how to handle 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 might face and advice on how to handle each.

1. You Made an error or Must Provide Bad News
You get a call from a customer who was supposed 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 supervisor 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 quickly.

The first step is to put your ego aside and assess the situation objectively. How would you think if this occurred to you? Say sorry and let the customer know you think bad about the error. Being truthful and letting him know you also would be upset shows empathy and understanding.

Next, let him know you’re doing whatever is necessary to remedy the error, or that you’re prepared to facilitate contact with the appropriate parties. Tell him when to anticipate a resolution. Then, whatever you do, make sure the problem gets solved!

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

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

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

However, it is important to follow through in a timely manner. If a bit of time goes by and you still do not have an solution, follow up with the customer to let him know you haven’t forgotten him 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 creates a paper trail of correspondence.

3. The Customer Demands a Full Refund
often there’s just no winning and the only way to solve a situation is to give in. When you’ve tried everything and the customer insists on having his money back, the best thing you can do is give it to him.

Say sorry and let the customer know you’re initiating a refund request. Tell him when to anticipate 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 do not 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 agent of a reputable company, you should be ready to keep your word. Chances are, you’ll rarely need to make a refund of any type.