The self-storage industry has undergone a transformative journey in recent years, driven by the integration of AI-enhanced proptech and smart kiosks, and the emergence of advanced chatbots. These innovations not only streamline operational processes but also redefine the customer experience within the self-storage landscape. Among the trailblazers showcasing their technology at The Federation of European Self Storage Associations (FEDESSA) Expo 2023 held in Rotterdam in October last year was Kinnovis GmbH, a software company based in Austria. Kinnovis launched a chatbot that combines AI with a customer-centric approach to enhance every aspect of the self-storage journey.
Elevating the Customer Experience with AI Chatbots
With increasing competition in every region of the sector, the need for efficient and customer-friendly solutions has never been more critical for self-storage operators. Martin Wild, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Kinnovis, says effective Ai chatbots “provide instant, accurate customer support in terms that resonate with customers. This not only simplifies the decision-making process but also ensures that customers choose the storage space that perfectly meets their requirements.”
AI chatbots’ ability to offer 24/7 customer support is a significant boost for the industry. Wild says, “Traditional customer support often comes with limitations, such as only providing responses during business hours and potential inconsistencies with replies from different team members. AI chatbots eliminate these barriers by providing round-the-clock assistance at a consistent level of support. This not only enhances customer satisfaction but also positions the self-storage provider as highly responsive and attentive.”
As well as answering questions, one of the standout features of top-of-the-range AI chatbots are their impact on online bookings. By guiding customers through the selection process and unique selling points of the service offered, the chatbot becomes a virtual sales agent. Not only does this accelerate the booking process, it also significantly reduces the time spent by staff on each customer interaction. JaneGPT's multitasking capabilities enable it to handle multiple sales inquiries simultaneously, making it a compelling proposition for self-storage operators transitioning to automation so they can allocate staff resources to other valuable tasks.
Real-time connections to a facility's unit availability also ensure that customers receive accurate and up-to-date information. Wild says: “This level of transparency builds trust and confidence among potential customers, leading to a higher probability of them converting. The integration of JaneGPT into the self-storage customer journey is a testament to the power of AI Tech in reshaping CX and establishing customer relationships at scale.”
Open Tech Alliance's Self-Service Kiosks: Empowering Customers and Enhancing Onsite Support
While self-service kiosks have become commonplace in the retail sector, their integration is relatively recent in the self-storage industry. The latter is still navigating the delicate balance between remote operations and in-person interactions, particularly in the Asian market.
According to Helen Ng, CEO of General Storage Company (Lock+Store Singapore and Malaysia, The Store House Hong Kong) and Chair of Self-Storage Association Asia, “In the Asian self-storage landscape, customers often prioritize face-to-face interactions. While they may be familiar with smart kiosks at fast-food chains, they tend to prefer having a storage specialist personally guide them through the storage facility and explain the terms and conditions. Nevertheless, there is a pressing need to future-proof our industry and align with the high digital expectations of future generations of customers.”
Self-service kiosks developed by US-based prop tech company Open Tech Alliance have offered self-storage operators the onsite support needed for seamless operations while giving self-storage customers the flexibility and control they desire.
The self-service kiosks speed up the rental process by granting tenants fast access to customer service, from renting a unit and making payment to resolving account issues. Open Tech Alliance showcased INSOMNIAC kiosks with Live Help at FEDESSA. INSOMNIAC kiosks take customer service a step further by allowing tenants to connect with a real person via two-way video. The combination of self-service rental options and personalized support through INSOMNIAC kiosks reflects the industry's commitment to embracing technology without compromising the human touch that many customers still value.
The self-storage industry's evolution through prop tech and chatbots, exemplified by Kinnovis JaneGPT and Open Tech Alliance's kiosks, marks a pivotal moment in enhancing customer experience. These innovations not only streamline operations and drive online bookings but also empower customers with control and convenience.