On the Up and Up: Continued Progress from June 1-5 Call, Lead, Rental and Payment Trends
As another month comes to a close, we took a deep dive into our benchmark data on call, lead, and collection performance for the first week of June. We measured year-over-year (Y-o-Y) and month-over-month (M-o-M) metrics from a strong sample size (thousands of facilities in varying sizes across the U.S. and Canada) to accurately capture the operational effect on the self-storage industry.
Review the data below or watch CallPotential Founder and President Phil Murphy interpret the data in our latest Fireside Chat.
Unsurprisingly, more and more business is being done over the phone due to physical distance requirements. We saw a 21% increase Y-o-Y and an almost 11% increase from May. This is showing that while business is returning to normal on a dollars and cents basis we are seeing customers change how they choose to interact with those businesses. While some are going online there is a large population that is choosing to do this over the phone.
It’s important to note that our data doesn’t just represent inbound calls from leads, but rather all facets of customer-facility communication. Payments, inquiries, questions on facility hours and more are reflected in our metrics, and we continue to see a driving force increasing the call volume in each category. Between the comfortableness and familiarity of picking up the phone and the simple fact that some just aren’t technically inclined to go online, an increasing amount of people are calling in for specialized help, furthering the importance of reliable call center operations.
Call Centers continue to increase volume with an almost 28% increase Y-o-Y which considerably outpaces the inbound call volume increase. Compared to May this was an additional 5% increase in call volume. In our data, we define call centers as any call that is rolled over to a third party answering center, or an in-house call center using our DIY Contact Center software. We’re starting to see many operators choosing this time to consolidate some of the answering and sales and payment processes.
With the ability to segment and prioritize call volume based on sales calls vs. customer service, it’s no surprise that call center usage continues to inch its way up in 2020. Using our DIY Contact Center, facilities can control their call flow through a streamlined process. Features like customizable scripts and flexible SmartRoute technology are used as supplemental operational tools so callers can experience top-notch customer service, while managers maximize the success of every call. From capturing customer information to dispatching the call to the perfect specialist, our Contact Center gives full visibility into call center operations.
Lead volume has almost completely recovered back to 2019 levels. The first week of June 2020 was only 2% lower than the first week of June 2019. This is an almost 20% increase over May lead volumes. Our lead metrics are composed of total new customer interactions including phone calls, emails, walk-ins, etc. as opposed to subjective processes like “qualified leads” or “interest level” to better measure a true conversion rate. Between the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and various reopening plans state-by-state, June’s lead rebound is a huge feat for the industry. We estimate that this is just the start of our return to normalcy and that the end of the month will continue to ramp up lead volume.
We are extremely encouraged by this data. At the end of the day, leads are the moving force of the industry. A solid follow-up process can make or break the impact of lead volume, rental conversions, payments and more. We’re seeing the benefits of those moving to a contactless approach that addresses each customer touchpoint including call, text, email, and online conversations. CallPotential offers an omni-channel communication tool that does just that. Our Lead Manager module follows up with customers promptly and ensures the necessary controls to make the most of every lead. With a more organized approach, managers can tap into the metrics behind the leads (How many calls were made? Was everyone followed up with? Was anyone missed?) and make better operational decisions.
We’ve found that rentals, regardless of lead source (walk-ins, calls, web inquiries, and online move-ins) are increasing as well, seeing a 20% increase in June compared to the first week of May. This is still 12% off of Y-o-Y numbers but trending toward normal operations. It’s likely that by the end of June, we’ll see that 12% decrease Y-o-Y split in half and can expect only a 5 or 6% decrease compared to 2019 as a result of ongoing rentals.
Thanks to many pivots like online and over-the-phone move-ins, rental ability has been heavily supported by operational changes. Even shortening the lead process has been a significant adjustment for closing sales. Our Contact Center and Lead Manager are frequently added to existing processes as an accessory to take control of each lead without adding additional infrastructure. Each simplifies the lead-to-rental process with added insight and tracking on the back end. From the initial call the Contact Center captures the customer’s information and routes the lead to the best-fit specialist, while the Lead Manager organizes the lead and automates follow-up. All of CallPotential’s tools work together to provide the best possible outcome for both tenant and facility.
As mentioned earlier, we classified a lead as any new customer that interacts through walk-ins, calls, emails, etc. to provide an accurate closing rate. Although lead conversions are down 5% Y-o-Y, we still continue to see an upward trend with a 6% rise from May. The uncertainty of COVID-19 caused a clear drop in March’s lead conversion, but we’re encouraged by the month-over-month return and expect it to continue as the country eases restrictions.
Like our data, lead conversion should be measured using a uniform system to assess a true closing rate. Unlike traditional processes, our Lead Manager organizes conversations from every point of contact and classifies them as a lead, regardless of interest level or information received. From there, our system automatically nurtures each lead using a virtual, contactless process from start to finish - even signing the lease via text - to offer an easier alternative and surefire way to increase conversion rates.
Self-made payments across the board are showing around a 45% increase Y-o-Y. This includes text, email and pay-by-phone as customers continue to seek out new, easier ways to pay. 2020 has proven to be a completely different ballgame in the world of contact-free payments and will only continue to grow. It seems paying via text and phone is truly becoming the preferred, standard mechanism. Of course we can’t expect face-to-face interaction to completely diminish, but the upward trend of offering self-serve payment options continues to increase.
Our Collections Manager transforms dead-end dialing into a fully self-serving payment alternative. With the option to tailor the tone and frequency of payment reminders through text, phone and email, managers can eliminate monotonous follow-up from their process and on-site staff are saved an average of 4-7 hours a week from collection calls.
Auto pay enrollment continues to grow as customers are choosing to avoid going into businesses unless necessary. Year over year we saw a 46% increase in self serve auto pay enrollment and more than a 4% increase compared to May enrollment numbers.
Despite expectations of an instant enrollment and trailing off over the next few months it appears auto pay enrollment and self-serve payments are becoming the standard operation for many customers. Like mentioned earlier there will still be customers who prefer face-to-face interaction, but giving the customer the power to choose can transform the sales cycle and offer an overall better customer experience.
We offer a contactless payment system through our Collections Manager module so customers can opt in to auto-pay. With the click of a checkbox, customers can forget about late fees and payment dates while operators are provided peace-of-mind as auto-pay users generally stay longer and have better customer loyalty.
Collection Events, which includes rent reminders on upcoming and past-due payments, are up 10% - an indicator that some are ramping up communication in correlation to the reopening of the economy. In April we saw a lot of users pull back in an effort to limit harsh collection communication. To combat this, we released a recommended COVID automated flow with a suggested frequency and tone.
This drop in collection events surprisingly did not impact the number of payments. By using CallPotential’s Collections Manager, managers were able to take a softer approach through customizable messaging and frequency while automating time-intensive accounting and collection tasks
Our driving force continues to be supporting the self-storage industry through data for better business-making decisions. If there is any specific data you’d like to see, please reach out. We’re here to help!
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