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June 18, 2021
In today’s increasingly digital world, self storage facilities must improve the self storage customer experience (CX) for new and potential tenants. One of the key areas where CX is especially critical is online rentals for self storage.
Customer experience is different from customer service. While customer service focuses on human interactions (such as phone calls, office visits, and e-mails), customer experience focuses on how customers interact with your business when a human isn’t involved—such as when they are completing online rentals for self storage or entering an electronic gate to access their storage unit.
When customers rent a self storage unit online, they are engaging in e-commerce—the process of buying and selling goods over the Internet. This provides an opportunity to learn from e-commerce giants such as Amazon, which place a premium on the customer experience and relentlessly focus on customer needs.
In this article, we’ll look at 12 ways to make your self storage online rentals easier for everyone involved.
First and foremost, make sure your website loads quickly, preferably within 1 to 2 seconds. If your website takes too long to load, potential tenants may leave before beginning the online rental process.
Once potential tenants arrive at your website, make a good first impression by having a website that is easy to navigate and has a consistent look and feel. Ensure that your branding (e.g., logo and color scheme) is consistent with the rest of your business.
At StoragePug, we call this “online curb appeal.” If your website looks modern and inviting, visitors will assume that your facility is also modern and inviting.
Key components include high-quality photos and videos, easy-to-read text, strong calls to action (CTAs), and important information presented “above the fold” (i.e., the part of your website that appears before visitors scroll down).
The majority of your website visitors will probably visit your website on a mobile device (e.g., phone or tablet). Therefore, your website and online rental process must be optimized for use on mobile devices. If a potential tenant can’t easily rent a storage unit using their mobile phone, you’re potentially losing business.
A clear CTA that directs visitors to your online rental page is one of the items that should be included above the fold of your website. These CTAs should also appear a few more times on the rest of the home page and throughout your website.
Most likely, your CTA will be a clickable button labeled “Rent Your Storage Unit” or “Reserve Now.” Don’t have visitors guess where they need to go to rent a unit—direct them to your online rental page with CTAs that are visually striking and easy to find.
Once potential tenants are on your website, you want to keep them there. This means your online rental process should be integrated into your website.
Customers should not have to go to another website to rent a storage unit from you! Not only does having your own online rental process give you the chance to maintain a consistent look and feel for your brand, but it also boosts trust and increases the chance that potential tenants won’t find another place to rent a self storage unit.
Simplicity is key when it comes to self storage online rentals. Make sure the design is easy to navigate, easy to read, and answers any questions without the customer having to leave the page. If your online rental process looks confusing or long, potential tenants may click away before completing the rental.
Ideally, online rentals for self storage should be able to be completed in a few clicks. Anything longer or more complicated may lead visitors to abandon the process. Only ask for data that is absolutely necessary and to streamline the process as much as possible.
One way to streamline the online rental process is to separate your customer onboarding from the rental experience. Plenty of operators include e-sign and insurance into the rental of a unit, but these steps can often be barriers for an easy, quick rental.
Consider separating the two processes. You’ll streamline the rental process and give potential tenants one less reason to leave your site.
One of the lessons that Amazon has taught us is that customers look for and rely on reviews when making a purchasing decision. We’ve talked about the importance of online reviews before, but it bears repeating that offering online reviews on your website provides “social proof” that your facility is worthwhile.
Besides including customer testimonials and reviews, another way to make online rentals for self storage easier is to provide potential tenants with everything they need to decide to rent a storage unit from you.
This means including tools such as a Size Guide, FAQs, and Storage Tips on your website. This way, your visitors will have all the information they need to rent a unit—without having to look elsewhere.
The last thing you want to do is to leave a new customer high and dry wondering "what now?" Be sure you're always clear about what's going to happen next, what to expect, and when to expect it!
You always want to be a step ahead of your customers, anticipating the questions or stucks they'll have, and giving them the information they need at the right time.
The best way to ensure that your online rental process is easy to use is to test drive it by completing the online rental process yourself!
Use this as an opportunity to identify any bottlenecks, confusing wording, or technical issues. Once you’ve fixed any problems, test it again until you’re satisfied that it is as streamlined and simple as possible.
You may also want to solicit feedback from your staff and customers to identify anything you may have missed. If new customers keep asking the same questions at the same place in the process, figure out how to fix it or be more clear!
Once you’re happy with your online rental process, review it periodically to ensure that it is optimized and up-to-date with your current policies and procedures.
In this article, we looked at 12 ways to make online rentals for self storage easier and more user-friendly—including having a fast-loading website, streamlining the process as much as possible, and learning lessons on how to optimize the customer experience from e-commerce pioneers like Amazon. THis is a key stage in improving your customer's journey!
By making it easy for tenants to rent a self storage unit online, you’ll increase your revenue and occupancy rate.
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