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Know Your Product (And Your Services)

Aug 26, 2011

by Brom Hoban, TSSA Director of Communications

There’s nothing more off-putting than a business that does not know their products or services well enough to be able to address customer needs. From the customer’s standpoint, it’s an instant “kill switch”—time to leave and seek out a business that knows what they’re doing. This applies to all businesses, including self storage- but I’ll use computer/office businesses as an example.

Sometimes, it can be an employee’s problem- they simply may not have been trained properly, or may not have learned about the business they work at. But other times, the business itself can be the culprit. They may have policies in place that make it difficult for an employee to be effective- that can especially be the case in large operations.

Unfortunately, such was the case at a recent visit to a “major” office supply store. Like many people, I have a number of computers in my family, and from time to time, they need help. So when my son, who is in college, complained that his laptop was running slowly, I jumped right on it, checking out the various computer “tune-up” prices available. That’s right, like most consumers, I go price first, but that’s not always the best way to shop.

It was a Saturday evening and I found what looked to be a good deal at said “major” store, and called to see how quickly they could service the laptop. “Let’s see, the fellow told me. “It’s 7:30 p.m. now, bring it in, and we’ll have it ready by 9:00.”

Not.

Encouraged by the speedy quote, I brought the laptop right over. That’s when things began to go downhill. After picking it up and observing the shiny lid (which had recently been replaced), the resident computer specialist remarked what a great computer it was. Considering he hadn’t even opened it up and turned it on, that struck me as kind of odd.

He then proceeded to use (and I am not making this up) three different workstations to check me in, and print out a receipt. By then it was 8:45 p.m., so getting the thing back on time was out the window.

The next day, when I called to check on it at noon, the fellow said he had a question about something, but that the computer was “fully optimized” and ready to pick up.

It wasn’t. I called that evening, and he told me that he had, in fact, done nothing. He explained that for some reason, he could not hook up my laptop to the Internet to run the required program their business uses. Really? My Internet connection works fine.

Upset with that business (and unlikely to return for any computer-related items), I retrieved the laptop, got my money back, and brought it to a small computer repair service I had used previously. Though it cost a bit more, they tuned it up right away, and I was good to go.

Though you may not know it, people observe your knowledge when you’re showing them your facility, just like I did at the office store. Are you (or your manager) familiar enough with the software to process customers promptly? Do you know how many climate controlled units are available? Does the manager know whether your facility offers insurance or not?  How about the legal stuff. Does he know that no tax is collected on boat storage or storage of a trailer with a boat on it, but there is tax on a trailer with no boat on it?

Hopefully, yes. Or if there’s a question, it is quickly researched and answered. The fact is that knowledge inspired confidence. If you want folks to use your business, know your business- simple as that.

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