Quality Assurance Team’s Tactics
Atronic’s QAD techniques include thorough client training, double checking all installation work, determining specific environment controls like entry/exit delay times, interior vs. perimeter protection and day/night/vacation modes, closely monitoring all new installations, and keeping up to date on all aspects of false alarm reduction. Custom programming is also offered to suit clients’ daily activities.
More specifically, the department provides and fills out all necessary paperwork for the client, including permit application, city ordinances, number of false alarms allowed, fines levied, call information for the central station, personally selected codes, appropriate telephone numbers and names on the call list for contacts.
The client’s system is again tested with Alarm Central, and quality of the installation is closely checked to assure proper equipment functionality. A Quality Control Inspection document is filled out and photos of the panel are taken and placed in the client’s folder. The client receives signs and window stickers, instructional quick reference sheets on system use and how to prevent false alarms, as well as stickers to be placed on their phones with the central station’s number.
During the demo, a QAD representative also simplifies usage of the system with a simple procedure it calls ABCD (arm/bypass/clear/disarm). As a further proactive measure, clients are urged that if they have created or are aware of a false alarm, they contact the central station rather than wait for a dispatch or call.
“The communication between Atronic Alarms and Alarm Central is daily. We work hand-in-hand to resolve false alarm issues,” says Jeremy Wyble, general manager of Alarm Central. “If we notice a customer who seems to set their alarm off repeatedly, or maybe they left the pet in the house, we will notify Atronic and the issue is resolved that day.”
After the demo, the new account is monitored closely. If false alarms occur, a member of the QA team contacts the client to determine if additional training is warranted. Atronic provides as many free training sessions as needed to assure the client is comfortable and understands how to operate the system properly.
Clients are also instructed to contact the service department at any time, or to go online to the Atronic Alarms Web site to send a service request form if it is not an emergency. The whole enterprise of mitigating false alarms is a team effort sustained through constant vigilance.
“We have to continually adjust to accommodate the changing rules and regulations each time a municipality alters permits, fees, volume and/or dollar amounts for false alarms,” says Mathews. “Each department is responsible for implementing these changes and educating the client.”
Fast Action Minimizes Problems
Another QAD function is tracking the worst false alarm abusers each month. If the problem is due to an equipment malfunction, technicians are immediately dispatched to fix the situation. Atronic only installs SIA CP-01 compliant alarm control panels, with all programmable options set to default (standard) settings, and also meets applicable UL standards.
“Atronic’s sales, service and installation departments are always researching equipment and installation techniques to improve end-user satisfaction, efficiency and ease-of-use, which helps reduce false alarms,” says Atha. “New equipment is field-tested before releasing information to clients.”
Recently, thanks to the ailing economy, as Atronic Alarms Service Manager Craig Albright explains, there is a new challenge with which to contend.
“Clients who have felt the economic slowdown might not request a service call for a faulty device as quickly or might not call in at all due to their budget situation,” he says. “Then if they continue to use the system with a faulty device, false alarms might occur more frequently than if the system had been serviced. Atronic Alarms still continues to track these false alarms and makes prompt calls to the client to try and help them resolve any issues.”
If a false alarm is due to user error, then QAD rep Rob Kemp further trains the client on the system or changes codes and other programming features that might better suit that client’s lifestyle. Kemp advocates CP-01 panels as well as enhanced call verification (ECV), which Atronic is in the process of implementing.
“Any device improvements that help to prevent operator error always helps and the additional safety net of call verification is definitely a plus,” he says. “Ongoing training is essential for both Atronic Alarms’ staff and its customers in order to make a noticeable difference in the volume of false alarms.”
CP-01 and ECV have been widely recognized as critical false alarm deterrents and are central elements to the PDQ judging criteria. Alarm Central’s Wyble lends additional credence to their value.
“We have noticed a dramatic decrease in false alarms with companies that are installing CP-01 compliant panels,” he says. “As for ECV, I believe this is the most effective way to decrease false dispatches. One municipality we deal with went to ECV two years ago. Since then, it has reported a decrease in false dispatches of almost 75 percent.”
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Reducing False Alarms