Call centers are becoming increasingly important for the self-storage industry, and not just as a means of avoiding grouchy storage renters on lockout days.
The advantages of using a call center are numerous. Even though many renters will use the Web to decide upon a self-storage company, they still expect live customer support. Call centers handle this and provide more services to storage firms, including customer service, account management and competitive intelligence gathering. Using a call center also helps storage firms capture data, which is increasingly becoming a competitive necessity.
When selecting a call center provider, self-storage firms should pay attention to four key areas.
First, firms should look at how the call center provider recruits and treats its agents. After all, it’s the agents who the customer will be interacting with, so it is important that competent agents are put in place and supported.
Additionally, you should heavily inquire how agent candidates are hired, trained and supported. See if fun is injected in the call center culture from time to time, and discover if agents are shown appreciation for their accomplishments. Call center providers should have very deliberate staffing methods, and pay attention to those methods.
Second, a firm needs to ask itself how a potential call center provider will support the self-storage company’s unique sales and service strategies. Is it possible that the storage firm can simplify and support the call center’s ability to serve the customers?
Third, what kind of technology does the call center provider us? There are many different layers of technology that go into making a call center function, but the broad outlines can be assessed even if the technical specifics are hard to understand and therefore assess.
Has the call center provider invested properly in its infrastructure, and can it scale? Does it have good relationships with its vendors and service people? More important, storage firms should make sure that the call center provider they select has contingency plans when something breaks. Because something will break eventually.
“Ninety-nine percent of call-center failures are completely invisible to you and your customers if the call center builds its technology platforms with potential hiccups in mind, investing properly so its systems allow for occasional disruptions,” wrote Tron Jordheim in a recent article for Inside Self-Storage. “Ask your call center representative to talk to you about contingencies and redundancies. You might be surprised at the lengths people will go to ensure the flow of normal business.”
Finally, self-storage firms should pay attention to what statistics are generated and how they are used.
Call centers generate lots of statistics that can be used by storage firms for planning and evaluation. When selecting a call center provider, inquire about what call center data the provider can pass along. Once you know what types of data can be passed along, make sure the data can be used.
Jordheim cautioned against wanting to take in too much data from the call center, however.
“You have to be careful that you don’t bury yourself in data or draw too many hasty conclusions,” Jordheim wrote. “Even where you’re capturing reliable stats, know that many things can influence them that aren’t apparent at first glance.”
So keep these four areas in mind when selecting a call center provider and you’ll be well on your way to call center success!