The August issue of SSI features a profile of this year’s Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award winner, Broadview Security (presently becoming part of ADT), and its highly commendable false alarm management practices. Much of my conversation with Carole Vanyo, ex-Broadview senior vice president customer operations and new vice president, customer experience for ADT, is contained in the print version of the story. However, there is a lot more she had to say about how and why her firm is so diligent and successful in reducing false dispatches, as well as the value of the PDQ program itself.
Who are the primary people responsible for developing, implementing, fine tuning and maintaining Broadview Security’s false alarm management program? How was the mission accomplished organizationally?
Carole Vanyo: Ideas flow freely across functions and are routed through our monitoring and customer operations groups to evaluate and implement changes. At the end of the day, we all recognize that false alarms not only waste emergency resources, they serve as a considerable driver of customer dissatisfaction, especially when fines are imposed. We’ve found the best way to avoid both is to continually address product development and educate the customer, and constantly develop new media and touch points to reduce false alarms.
What modifications to the plan had to be made along the way and why? What are some of the areas you would still like to see improvement in and what are you doing to achieve it?
Vanyo: Reducing false alarms is an evolutionary process. Anyone who claims to have a cure-all solution to false alarm reduction is kidding themselves. It requires studying customer alarm activity, constant interaction with responding agencies, ensuring ample customer training materials and interaction plans, and the willingness and ability to make timely changes based on changing patterns and trends. For instance, Valentine’s Day was historically a high-volume alarm day. We used to staff monitoring heavy that day, knowing that we would see elevated volume. After analyzing the common component signal sent, in this case, motion detectors, we met with field operations and product development to determine some solutions. Turns out, the best ideas are the simplest — remind customers that balloons and false alarms don’t mix.
Broadview Security spends a lot of time and effort training employees and customers about false alarm issues.
Has the bad economy impacted your false alarm efforts in any ways? Explain.
Vanyo: Not at all. False alarms affect everyone. Customers who experience excessive false alarms become dissatisfied with the service and will most likely disconnect. Agencies waste resources, which drastically impacts department budgets. Our goal has been to address both parties —– lowering false alarms will make customers and responding agencies effective because they each reduce unnecessary customer and agency demand and negative experiences. The beautiful part is that it’s a significant operating-margin driver for a relatively low-cost program, once the proper systems and procedures are in place.
How do you coordinate efforts with your monitoring facilities? Are there a lot of meetings and discussions? What do they bring to the table? Is there any advantage of having your own central station as opposed to working with a third-party monitoring company in decreasing false alarm dispatches?
Vanyo: Fortunately, we use both central stations and third-party monitoring. Our permit team and industry and government relations department work tirelessly to ensure that our company is always in compliance with local and state requirements. This also ensures that our monitoring representatives are responding properly to alarms. In addition, continuous feedback from our customers allows us to ensure we are in alignment with their expectations in addition to the local area emergency agency requirements. Ultimately, our focus has been to educate the customer in every interaction, and facilitate the customer’s account interaction via self-service or through our customer care department. Ownership of the customer relationship is the driver.
Broadview Security has one of the industry’s most thorough training programs for field technicians.
What kind of feedback have you received from colleagues with other security companies? Have you been able to inspire any of them to be more proactive and conscientious?
Vanyo: We do get feedback on how we manage the issues. It’s generally positive and centered around how we contribute to solutions. We are constantly looking for ways to be proactive instead of reactive. Law enforcement also thanks us for partnering with them. One of the best ways to partner in this endeavor as we move forward is to leverage the future technologies the industry continually develops. We believe the PDQ Award is a good example of that.
How have the results meshed with your projections and expectations?
Vanyo: As mentioned before, alarm reduction is an evolutionary process. Our first run at a New Year’s Eve campaign absolutely exceeded expectations. From there, we kept raising the bar. We not only went after holidays and other false alarm drivers, but looked at equipment placement and time of day for the alarm. The obvious solutions are often the most simple. These are examples of the types of initiatives that have resulted in the reduction of our gross and net dispatch numbers since we began tracking them.
Do you believe your approach/plan should serve as a blueprint for other alarm companies to follow?
Vanyo: Absolutely. In fact, during the integration process with ADT Security Services, we have already begun developing mechanisms to not only measure performance, but develop collateral to reduce customer demand on responding agencies and contact centers.
How do you feel about being the first organization to win the PDQ Award a second time, after having won under the Brink’s name in the past?
Vanyo: This would have been impossible without the commitment of every Broadview Security employee. Their tireless effort toward making sure we exceed every customer’s expectation each and every day is the driver behind the award.
Do you believe the PDQ program is valuable to the industry and can help make a difference? Explain.
Vanyo: Any time an industry can get together to share best practices that benefit each individual customer, value is provided. We are all called upon to provide a service that often results in life and property loss prevention by notifying authorities appropriately. The key is to continuously adapt and find new ways to alert authorities in the event of actual alarms, while avoiding false alarms.
Broadview Security’s Rob Washington accepts the PDQ Award in a ceremony held during ESX Pittsburgh.
Looking at the industry, what do you believe is going to happen with police response to burglar alarm systems? Is the situation getting better or worse? Will most police still be running out to unverified alarms on a regular basis five, 10, 20 years from now?
Vanyo: Great question! As consumers want to be more connected to their worlds, we will most likely see more interactive mediums emerge such as smart-phone applications that will allow for system arming/disarming, video delivery/verification/recording, as well as the ability to electronically allow central stations to interact with agency dispatch systems to alert authorities without having to physically call the responding agencies. By making the alarm part of the customer’s lifestyle, additional customer relationships will hopefully emerge.
In what ways do you anticipate Broadview’s false alarm management practices to change with the acquisition by ADT? In what ways do the two programs intersect and diverge?
Vanyo: Both teams are committed to reducing false alarms. During the integration planning and subsequent execution, we have remained committed to ensuring continued focus on this endeavor. We have started developing feedback mechanisms for field operations, monitoring, customer care, marketing and other areas to place focus on ‘Creating customers for life.’ A key focus of the new ADT is providing customers with the information they need, when they need it. Customers who are uncomfortable with or uncertain about operating the alarm system will not be a customer for long. We plan to leverage ADT’s product suite with Broadview Security’s processes to provide the best-in-class solution for our customers.
Is there anything else relevant to your false alarm reduction program, the PDQ Award or false alarms in general that you would care to add?
Vanyo: Employees. The feedback and drive our employees have contributed over the years have lead to this second PDQ Award. Their commitment to ‘Creating customers for life’ permeates every customer touch point and interaction. Without dedicated employees, we would have no customers. Now that the integration with ADT has begun, we look forward to providing the next level of service to our combined customer base as together we become the new ADT.
So what is your company doing to manage false alarms? And if your program is successful, why not enter next year’s PDQ program and share it with the rest of the industry?
As Always, Thanks for Reading ...
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