Most self-storage facilities in Japan are unmanned, different from other countries where staff is usually present at the site. This creates a unique business environment with its own challenges and opportunities. Contracts and move-in happen online or through the postal system. But handing over the key – this is where the challenges begin. We compiled advice on reducing the effort and making the experience better – for owners and renters.
Calls about problems with access are one of the most common types of inquiries for unmanned facilities. It creates its own subset of issues and difficulties:
- Does the call center have office hours or not?
- Who can the renter contact outside of hours?
- How can the call center help?
With the help of a good customer service platform, such as Zendesk, many of these problems are solvable.
How categories can help you
With Zendesk you can categorize calls and inquiries. It will help you identify what proportion of customer problems are about access or keys. This will help you dedicate an appropriate amount of your resources (agent time and money) to the problem. No one wants long waiting times because of overloaded agents, but idle agents are just as bad.
The role of a good FAQ
Proper categorizations of inquiries will also help you create or improve a truly helpful, frequently asked questions section. Have answers to the most common problems, including those with access in your FAQ, and empower your renters to self-service. Provide information such as:
- Where to collect the key
- How the key works (in the case of a key card)
- Whether the loading bay needs a separate key
- Whom to contact if the key is lost or damaged
Zendesk has a built-in feature to help you build and manage a comprehensive and helpful FAQ section on your site.
24h support with a chatbot
Proper categorization and a good database of customer inquiries will also help you train a more efficient and effective chatbot. It is a great tool to deflect questions. Zendesk offers a solution with SNS integration so you can cover all communication channels with your customers. Best practices show that integrating a chatbot into your chat support will automatically solve over 50% of inquiries. Chat history is another source of data to improve both the quality of the knowledge base and the user experience when chatting.
Avoiding trouble with keys
With the customer support portion taken care of, let’s discuss what you can do to reduce the risk of such problems happening in the first place. Access control has come a long way, and hundreds of solutions exist on the market. In recent years accessing storage via smartphone is becoming increasingly common. Most modern smartphones are NFC enabled and can act as a key card. Other companies are experimenting with fingerprints and facial recognition. Of course, the classic combination lock or padlock is also a common solution.
A solution we want to introduce is Entryfy, a Swedish company that puts smart in smart locks. The renter scans a QR code with their smartphone, and the door opens. This leaves a lot of flexibility to give access to other people, for example, adding more users to a shared unit or giving temporary access to the delivery driver. When a new customer moves in, the system can automatically generate an access code and share it with the respective users.
Regarding payment collection, the self-storage manager can easily block access to the storage for renters who are behind on their payments. Entryfy, like many modern solutions, is cloud-based and integrates with storage management solutions. As the owner, you have everything available to you, any time and anywhere. Just make sure you have a stable internet connection.
Say sayonara to legacy systems
Many self-storage operators still run on decade-old, legacy software. This in itself causes many problems and dissatisfied customers. Legacy software is slow, sluggish, and nearly impossible to integrate with other solutions. It is more susceptible to security risks and data breaches. Finally, legacy software is often based on custom code, making it harder to manage or update. Many of the solutions we introduced are based on open source platforms – this fosters innovation in the field. Holding on to a 30-year-old management system will put your business in unnecessary jeopardy. If you are wondering about the digitalization and modernization of your systems – contact us at Unwired Logic at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation or click the “Learn More” button to be taken to our contact form.