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Inside the customer’s mind – Who is renting self-storage in Asia?

Asia is a diverse continent with diverse customers. When we look across the continent, we see distinct differences in customer segmentation and user bases. Their different needs and preferences put self-storage operators before various challenges. Operators have to overcome the challenges to unlock the growth potential of their business. We will go over the characteristics of the most common customer segments and what it means for your communication and support strategy.

The most striking difference is the split between business and individual renters across the continent. We see an almost even split in China and Malaysia. Meanwhile, in Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan, 80% of self-storage is B2B. The trend is growing. Unless operators want to specialize in a customer niche, they will need a diverse communication strategy and offering to accommodate the needs of the B2B and B2C customers.

Self-Storage B2C customers

Demand for self-storage in individual consumers historically comes from the so-called “4 D’s of Self-Storage”:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Dislocation
  • Downsizing

Especially the fourth factor is a primary driver in self-storage demand. Urbanization drives ever-larger numbers of residents in ever more cramped places. High property and rent costs mean that many users treat self-storage as a closet away from home. They typically want to rent smaller units, just above 2 square meters (25sqf).

However, individual consumers are not a homogeneous group. For several decades the so-called baby boomer generation – those born after WW2 and into the late 50’s – dictated all major consumer trends. They were the largest group. However, Millennials – born in the late 80s to late 90s now challenge this position; and already overtook in other regions. In Asia, for every two baby boomers, there is one millennial. They form a 600 million strong consumer group. Many self-storage operators recognized the potential of Millennials as renters. However, they come with expectations and demands.

Millennials grew up during the advent of the digital age. They expect a solid online presence and online support from companies. Above all, they value convenience – for example, getting in touch with customer support through SNS. They want to have 24h access to their units and prefer those with smart locks or other electronic locks. Flexible payments and valet storage are other examples of services that the millennial customer expects from self-storage.

Self-Storage B2B Customers

Business customers logically come with a different need set. For them, self-storage is a convenient and flexible warehousing solution. Small and medium-sized enterprises and e-commerce businesses use self-storage with great success. They give preference to operators who can offer free moving trucks and drive-up units for more effortless loading and unloading. Security, climate control, and insurance are important factors, as they store the lifeblood of their business. Finally, they value the flexibility that self-storage offers. When demand peaks, they can rent additional units to temporarily increase available storage space and downsize when demand drops again. Inquiries from your business customers will come mainly through more traditional mediums – such as phone and email.

However, it is possible for you to easily meet the diverse communication preferences and channels of your customer groups without breaking the bank. Zendesk lets you segment your B2B and B2C customers, giving you more control over your sales and support activities. Zendesk Support comes as a package deal with all the tools you need to run your customer support smoothly.

For instance, with Zendesk Talk, you manage all incoming customer inquiries in the agent interface. The system records every call, reducing human error, especially different clients call about the same topic. Customers can easily and conveniently contact you with the click of a button from your website or application. Zendesk Talk comes with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) routing, meaning you can deflect common inquiries by linking them to your FAQ.

Other features of Zendesk Support are Macros, Triggers, and Automations. They are, in essence, rules that the system applies to certain events to streamline your support process. Examples are automated follow-up emails or updating a support ticket status. You can find out more about Automations in Zendesk in our detailed guide.

To please your convenience-seeking, digital-native customers Zendesk offers you various other support tools, such as chatbots or SNS support through messaging services like Line, Instagram, or WhatsApp. All conversations flow together in the agent interface. When a customer contacts you the next time, their past conversation will be visible to the agent, providing context. It also helps make your conversations seamless and natural. Even if the customer talks to a different agent, it will appear that they are continuing the conversation where they left off the last time.

With Zendesk, you can focus your attention on other areas of your business, knowing that your support team will manage and have your back.

Curious about how Zendesk can make your support more streamlined and efficient? Let’s have a conversation. Our bi-lingual project managers will help you select the right mix of tools to realize your strategy and plans.