Self-storage supervisors often find themselves in tricky client-service problems. Here are 7 common scenarios you may face and advice on how to handle them in a positive way.
Stacie Maxwell | Jun 29, 2019

If you are a self-storage operator who deals with customers, you may encounter problems in which a client is unhappy and you are in the spotlight to fix his problem. Knowing how to handle these difficult interactions takes a bit of skill, a dash of knowledge, a whole lot of understanding and the ability to see things from the customer’s point of view. Here are 7 “deadly” circumstances you may face and advice on how to handle each.

1. You Made a Mistake or Must Provide Bad News
You receive a call from a client who was expected to move into his unit on Sunday, but the vacancy lock was not removed, and he couldn’t do so. Yikes! This is clearly a supervisor mistake, one that might even result in disciplinary action. To reduce the negative impact on the tenant and company, the at-fault party needs to react fast.

The first step is to put your pride aside and assess the situation objectively. How would you think if this happened to you? Say sorry and let the client know you think terrible about the error. Being truthful and letting him know you also would be upset shows empathy and understanding.

Then, let him know you are doing whatever is necessary to remedy the mistake, or that you are ready to facilitate contact with the appropriate parties. Tell him when to expect a resolution. Then, whatever you do, make sure the problem gets solved!

In the example above, the solution is to remove the vacancy lock as soon as possible and do what’s necessary to make the client “whole.” Did he spend cash on a mover or rental truck? You need to reimburse his lost expense or arrange to move him into the unit free of charge. Making the client whole is key to gaining forgiveness when mistakes are made.

The same process is applicable if you must give a client bad news. “I find that when you have to relay hard information, it’s just best to be honest and straightforward. I’ve had to do this with a flood and fire, and it is not easy,” says Tammy Hamrick, supervisor Vigilant Self Storage in Richmond, Va.

2. You Don’t Have an response
Have you ever faced a situation in which you did not have an immediate solution to a client inquiry or issue? Maybe you were new and still training. In any case, simply telling a client you “don’t know” isn’t acceptable. A better course of action is to tell him you are going to research the question and get back to him. No one can be expected to know everything, so this is reasonable.

However, it’s important to follow through in a prompt manner. If a bit of time goes by and you still do not have an solution, follow up with the client to let him know you haven’t forgotten him and are still working on a solution. Set yourself a reminder and reach out to the client either way. A quick e-mail works great for this purpose and produces a paper trail of correspondence.

3. The client Demands a Full Refund
Sometimes there’s just no winning and the only way to solve a situation is to give in. When you’ve tried everything and the client insists on having his cash back, the best thing you can do is give it to him.

Say sorry and let the client know you are initiating a refund request. Tell him when to expect the refund and by which means (check, a credit to his bank account or credit card, or even cash). Your company needs an internal procedure for processing refunds efficiently. You do not want to lose any goodwill you’ve gained in providing the refund due to sloppy and slow execution.

From a company standpoint, refunds aren’t ideal and can be upsetting; but as a representative of a reputable company, you should be ready to keep your word. Chances are, you’ll rarely need to make a refund of any type.