Customer Experience

Self-Storage Operations: How Technology Is Transforming Tenant Experiences

January 11, 2024
6 minutes

Self-storage operations are undergoing a significant transformation, largely driven by AI-powered technology. With the ability to simultaneously offer both tailored and standardized tenant experiences at scale without the need for human intervention, facility operators are in awe of the possibilities presented by automation. Let's delve into the key areas where automation is making its mark:

  • Struggling to juggle rent collection, access codes, and tenant inquiries?
  • Wish there was a way to automate manual tasks and free up time for what matters?
  • Worried about frustrated tenants waiting in line after work just to access their stuff?
  • Want to offer 24/7 convenience and improve customer satisfaction?
  • Feeling lost in a sea of self-storage software options?
  • Unsure which features are truly game-changing and will boost your bottom line?

At swivl, our team is obsessed with innovation in self-storage operations, constantly exploring how automation technology can help operators make storage experiences smoother and more secure for their tenants.

The exciting bit? We’re only just scratching the surface. This past year, we’ve seen operators rapidly adopt new technology. As the rate of innovation only continues and LLMs (Large Language Models) grow in sophistication, tenant experiences will only get better.

We're not just talking theory – we've seen firsthand how automation is transforming tenant experiences, and we're here to share the secrets from our recent report on the state of technology in automation.

This article is for:

  • Self-storage operators looking to cut costs while still delighting tenants.
  • Investors looking for the next big thing in self-storage technology.
Why listen to me? I have worked in the conversational AI space for close to a decade, with our previous AI company getting acquired. My day to day consists of speaking to operators of all sizes to understand their automation needs and wants, and see how to best help them get there. I currently am in charge of swivl's go to market strategy and am a co-host of the Self Storage Lab podcast.

How Technology Is Changing Self-Storage Operations

Facility Management Software Is Transforming Operations

A facility management software solution is essentially a central nervous system for your self-storage facility. When integrated effectively, it can automate crucial tasks like:

  • Tenant management to keep track of contracts, leases, and tenant information.
  • Payment collection to streamline online and offline payments, with autopay options.
  • Invoice generation to automatically generate invoices and send them to tenants.
  • Unit availability to keep real-time track of available units and sizes.
  • Access control to grant and manage tenant access to the facility units.

By automating these tasks, facility management software frees up staff time for more strategic initiatives while providing a seamless experience for tenants.

Omnichannel Powers The Modern Contact Center

Gone are the days of solely relying on phone calls for customer communication. Today's contact centers are omnichannel hubs, catering to diverse customer preferences. This means offering:

  • Multiple contact methods: Chat, phone, SMS, email, and social media support.
  • AI-powered chatbots: Answering basic questions and resolving common issues 24/7.
  • Intent prediction: Understanding the reason behind customer calls for better agent preparation.
  • Real-time agent coaching: AI-powered suggestions for improved customer service.
  • Voice biometrics: Enhancing security through identity verification.

When operations start to embrace omnichannel communication and AI-powered tools, they can begin to deliver a personalized and efficient experience for every tenant.

Addressing Tenant Issues Through Self-Storage Technology

With effective self-storage operations, data analysis plays an important role in identifying and resolving common tenant issues. For instance, 75% of customers use multiple channels throughout their rental journey. Analyzing communication channels reveals the most frequent issues, such as:

  • Forgotten access codes
  • Difficulty accessing units
  • Login problems
  • Missing unit details
  • Online payment issues

When operations understand these pain points, they can proactively address bottlenecks through automation. Chatbots can handle simple inquiries like forgotten codes, while online portals can provide easy access to unit details and payment options. This reduces the burden on live agents and improves overall tenant satisfaction.

Using Dynamic Pricing To Maximize Storage Unit Revenue

Dynamic pricing is no longer a futuristic concept. Self-storage operators are leveraging data and AI to optimize pricing strategies. Operators can use dynamic pricing to adjust prices in real-time based on market demand, competitor pricing, and other pivotal data points Real-time price adjustments can help facility operations to maximize revenue without manual intervention, all while remaining competitive.

For instance, a drive-up unit near the entrance might be priced higher than a third-floor unit at the back. Similarly, during peak season, prices might automatically increase to reflect higher demand. With the right tools at your disposal, you can begin tracking user behaviors on your website, such as repeated page visits, and adjust pricing in real-time for specific users based on their behaviors.

Catering To Tenant Payment Preferences

Online payments are now the preferred option for most tenants. While this isn’t much of a surprise, it does highlight the importance of offering:

  • Secure and convenient online payment gateways with multiple options for credit card, debit card, and ACH payments.
  • An autopay functionality to enable tenants to set up automatic payments for recurring bills.
  • Email reminders to ensure tenants are notified about upcoming payments.

By meeting a range of payment preferences, facility operators can ensure a smooth and hassle-free payment experience for their customers.

Automation in Self-Storage: What Lies Ahead?

Automation is not just a trend; it's the future of the self-storage industry. As facility operators continue to embrace automation solutions and integrate these into their workflows, tenant expectations will only rise as their overall experiences become more efficient, tailored, and personalized. To stay competitive in 2024, operators have no choice but to explore a range of solutions for their technology stacks.

As technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more innovative solutions, such as:

  • Smart locks with facial recognition or fingerprint access.
  • Autonomous delivery robots for tenant convenience.
  • Predictive maintenance systems to prevent equipment failures.
  • AI-powered insights to optimize pricing and marketing strategies.

It’s worth remembering that automation is not about replacing human interaction; it's about augmenting it. When operators use technology to handle repetitive tasks, it frees up human resources to focus on what teams do best: building meaningful relationships with tenants and going the extra mile.

Read our latest industry report on how consumer behavior is changing in self-storage and why operators must rapidly begin adopting technology to keep up.

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