Seven expensive client-Service Situations in Self-Storage and How to manage Them

Self-storage supervisors often catch themselves in tricky client-service situations. Here are 7 typical scenarios you might face and advice on how to manage them in a positive way.
Stacie Maxwell | Jun 29, 2019

If you are a self-storage operator who deals with customers, you might encounter situations in which a client is unhappy and you are in the spotlight to fix his problem. Knowing how to manage these difficult interactions takes a bit of skill, a dash of knowledge, a whole lot of understanding and the ability to see things from the customer’s point of view. Here are 7 “deadly” circumstances you might face and advice on how to manage each.

1. You Made a Mistake or Must Provide Bad News
You get a call from a client 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 quickly.

The very first step is to put your ego aside and assess the situation objectively. How would you feel if this occurred to you? Apologize and let the client know you feel terrible about the mistake. Being truthful and letting him know you also would be upset shows empathy and understanding.

Then, let him know you are doing whatever is necessary to remedy the error, or that you are willing to facilitate contact with the appropriate parties. Tell him 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 necessary to make the client “whole.” Did he invest 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 client whole is key to gaining forgiveness when mistakes are made.

The same process is applicable if you must give a client 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 solution
Have you ever faced a situation in which you did not have an immediate response to a client inquiry or problem? Maybe you were new and still training. In any case, simply telling a client you “don’t know” isn’t acceptable. A better course of action is to tell him you are going to research the question and get back to him. No one can be expected to know everything, so this is reasonable.

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 response, follow up with the client 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 client either way. A quick e-mail works great for this purpose and creates a paper trail of correspondence.

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

Apologize and let the client know you are initiating a refund request. Tell him 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 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 representative 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.