Self Storage

Operator Roundtable: Automating the Customer Journey

December 7, 2022
5 minutes

swivl co-founders, Mason Levy (CEO) and Rodolfo Ramirez (COO), are joined by Davida Gaffney, Web Product Manager for StorageMart, and Raheem Amer, SVP of Operations for Devon Self Storage, to detail the importance of stepping into your customer’s shoes and leveraging automation to streamline the Customer Journey in order to enhance operational efficiency at our first Operator roundtable.

Want more? Read Full Transcript

Featured Speakers:

Davida Gaffney
Raheem Amer

Want To Leverage Automation In Your Business? Check Out What Other Operators Are Doing

Video Summary

Here are some of our favorite parts of the Operator Roundtable:

  • At 1:48, Davida and Raheem properly introduce themselves, chat about how they got their start in Self Storage and why the industry has so much potential growth.
  • At 4:21, Davida and Raheem discuss the major shifts they’ve seen in shopping behavior over the past year and how brands need to put the digital experience at the forefront of many of their customer initiatives. “We used to have the majority of our customers and leads coming from phone calls. It’s now online, both our website and lead aggregator. And that’s just a huge shift in the way we think about where we invest our time and resources to support customers”
  • At 6:36, Davida talks about how StorageMart has started leveraging voice applications to expand upon their omnichannel strategy — something not a lot of other brands are utilizing.
  • At 8:06, Raheem mentions how critical it is for Devon Self Storage to ensure their customer experience is as frictionless as possible. It doesn’t matter how the customer wants to communicate with you. We want to make sure that we’re there and we’re solving their needs.”
  • At 10:40, Raheem and Davida talk about how critical it is to step into your customer’s shoes and how to bring concepts from other industries providing a smooth customer experience and applying it to Self Storage.
  • At 14:09, Davida talks about how StorageMart thinks about designing its online and offline experience. “As we learn more and get some data in different areas, we usually tend to tailor more towards store specific audience versus one-to-one personalization.”
  • At 16:58, Raheem highlights the main barrier companies face when trying to implement automation within their digital experience “We [Operators] have antiquated data and we have antiquated ideas and we’re trying to implement those and try to push those forward to our consumers that have already moved along.”
  • At 18:48, Davida brings up some pinch points in their process, even though their team has been ahead of the curve in deploying automation. “Customer expectations are constantly shifting — your team need to continually adapt to meet demands”
  • At 20:45, Davida and Raheem discuss how operators need to promote a sense of curiosity and open conversation internally in order to stay ahead of the shifts in technological advancements within the industry, while also taking the time to continually educate their own customers.
  • At 25:27, Davida and Raheem talk about the importance of focusing on customer success and leveraging brand awareness in order to keep your current customers happy.
  • At 27:07, Davida and Raheem provide some more info on their companies.
  • At 28:02, Rodolfo announces the next session in the Operator Roundtable series and chats about swivl’s recently published automation report: Automation and AI in Self Storage.

Highlight Reel

When asked: “How does your team think about improving the customer journey — from the first touchpoint to the in-store experience?”

“Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and really understanding the journey that we’re used to with Amazon, the one-click option […] So how can we take that thought process and bring it into self storage and bring it into our process, make that as frictionless as possible. And I think a lot of us try to think through whatever viewpoints are versus what the data is telling us and what the customers are telling us.” – Raheem Amer
“I love that idea of thinking about what are the smooth and frictionless experiences we see elsewhere, not just what are other storage companies doing? […] How can we bring that in? And how does that help our customers?” – Davida Gaffney

When asked about their current automation initiatives, Raheem discusses an interesting finding his team made while leveraging chatbots.

“You know, one of the strangest thing that we have noticed is that since we launched the chat bot, when a human takes over, the quality of the customer expectation actually goes down. Because the human responds at a slower pace than your chat bot. So you’re training people to have immediate responses and a human can’t keep up with that. So it’s actually a negative experience for them.” — Raheem Amer

Session Takeaway

In the on-demand, real-time world we live in, consumers expect to be able to find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily. With relatively new advancements in machine learning and automation, this customer-centric experience is no longer a pipe dream. This Session’s discussion showed how today’s operators have access to this type of technology and are leveraging it to run more efficiently 24-7 to achieve higher lead conversions, deliver better customer service, and enhance operational efficiency.

Automation is the future of Self Storage. Your renters demand it.

Questions Answered in this Session

  1. [4:01] What shifts are you seeing in shopping behavior and where do you think the industry is going? Now vs. 10 years from now.
  2. [6:06] How do today’s operators go above and beyond to differentiate themselves from the player down the street?
  3. [9:25] How does your team think about improving the customer journey — from the first touchpoint to the in-store experience?
  4. [13:40] How do you define specific personas and demographics in order to guide the design of your online and offline experience?
  5. [15:37] What are the biggest challenges or barriers most companies face when deploying automation initiatives?
  6. [20:18] How does your team stay on top of new technology and what your customers want?
  7. [25:02] Outside of the top of the funnel, how do you think about improving the success of current customers?

Spread the word and learn more about how operators are leveraging swivl today.

Automation And AI In Self Storage

We are excited to announce our 2021 Automation and AI Trends in Self Storage Report

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