Four Tips on Handling Angry Customers At Your Self Storage Facility
It's only a matter of time before a self storage owner/operator will deal with an angry customer either in person or over the phone. If you've been in the business any time at all, you've probably already seen your fair share of angry customers at your self storage facility!
Sometimes the issues causing the customer to be upset can be legitimate. However, self storage managers are often forced to manage customer fury that has little to do with them or the self storage facility they manage.
Regardless of the particular issue, these interactions can be stressful and lead you to getting emotionally involved. However, the most important rule of dealing with these interactions is to stay calm and keep your emotions in check. While that's definitely easier said than done, it's crucial for both you and the business that cooler heads prevail and that policies and rules of the facility are clearly communicated at all times and also adhered to.
Whatever the cause, these occasions can try your patience. The keys are to keep your cool, don't take it personally, and attempt to resolve the problem so everyone is happy. Following is a story about how a facility manager and I successfully handled a difficult tenant while sticking to our company policies.
Hear Customer Out (within reason)
Oftentimes, people who are upset are really just wanting to be heard. Simply hearing them out can sometimes de-escalate the situation even if you can't do much to solve their particular issue or if the issue really has nothing to do with the self storage facility. If a customer feels heard and senses that you're empathetic to their situation, it can go a long way in calming them down and getting to the true root of the issues.
Working to Find Resolution
If the customer's complaints can be handled and are within company policies to remedy, you should do what you can to solve their problem. Taking a customer who's having a bad experience and turning that around can engender long term support of the business. If the customer does end up having a good experience, you can mention how glad you were to be able to solve their issue and hope that they might share that experience with other potential customers. If the customer has already written an online review that was not favorable, it can be appropriate to ask for them to update that. If they haven't written a review yet, you can remind them that's an option if they were pleased with the outcome.
Setting Boundaries and Limits
While it's normal to want everyone at your self storage facility to have a positive outcome, some customers will be asking for things that are not reasonable, possible, or both. While you still want to do everything in your power to improve the customer experience, it's important not to go too far and violate the policies of the facility or even the law. Some people will use their anger as a way to pressure others to give them things. For example it could be an ex-spouse wanting access to the other spouses unit or someone knowing that they haven't paid but expecting you to waive all late fees and allow them access to their things. Remember that the facility rules are there for a reason, and it's important to keep policies top of mind when dealing with these stressful situations. Remember- if the situation is "in-person" at your self storage facility and you feel unsafe don't hesitate to call the police if necessary.
Remember just like so many things at your self storage facility, it's crucial to document everything! Documenting the entire interaction, including the outcome, is a way to protect yourself, the facility, and even the customer. Most of the time the situations will de-escalate and nothing further will come of them. However, it's vital that in the event something does that you have the proof to back up your version of events and refute any inaccurate claims that could be made by the other party.