The provider should also instruct the customer on the steps in the verification process and assist in selecting appropriate call list telephone numbers. Encouraging customers to provide local numbers for all contacts is preferred, with an emphasis on the use of cellular numbers as the second premises number. It’s advisable to deploy an active program in the monitoring station to identify and correct outdated contact information. Ongoing communication, such as newsletters and bill inserts, after the sale is crucial in maintaining the customer relationship and awareness of false alarm prevention.
Of course, all of this requires a commitment of time, resources and money. But as Vanyo explains, the payoff is well worth the investment.
“By investing a considerably small amount in producing customer collateral, the benefits outweigh the expenditures,” she says. “The key is to do so across all customer touch points - product development, sales, installation, service, monitoring, care, Web sites, E-mails, statement mailers. They are low-cost avenues that provide huge results. At the end of the day, having customers who know exactly what to do in the event of a false alarm is something you almost can’t put a price tag on.”
Technology’s Important Role
The type of equipment, its configuration and installation also play a major role in the incidence of false alarms. Alarm companies are urged to install products that meet the requirements of the SIA CP-01 standard, with all programmable options set to default settings. The devices should also meet all applicable UL standards.
“We have actually had about 90 percent of what is required in CP-01 built into our systems since 1993, long before today’s standard was written and adopted by the industry,” says Vanyo. “Since late 2003, every new panel we install has been CP-01 compliant. We have an actual cancel button on our keypad - different from a cancel feature, which requires a customer to enter a series of numbers.”
To help ensure problem-free installations, technicians ought to be certified as meeting the requirements of National Training School (NTS) Level I or II, or equivalent (such as a documented company training program that is similar in content and duration), as well as meet any state or jurisdictional continuing education requirements. Broadview employs one of the industry’s most thorough technical training regimens. In addition to NTS, technicians must be certified in Fire Alarm Installation Methods (FAIM); go through a 12-week in-house course that includes classroom, in-the-field and online studies; and complete a system service certification that shows they have troubleshooting and resolution skills.
“Our internal Certified Trainer Program has been the single-most successful tool for our technicians. That, coupled with other field training components, rounds out the 12-week program technicians are required to complete before being on their own in the field. We have advanced ongoing training that includes components of the NTS training program,” says Vanyo.
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