SSI’s annual Best of the Best issue (July 2013) includes profiles of seven of the industry best-run installing security contracting companies. My interviews with executives and managers from runner-up Bates Security covered much ground not included in print. Following is the first of a few bonus excerpts, with Bates’ Jeremy Bates, Olivia Duvall and Bryan Bates here addressing customer service issues. Be on the lookout for more online extras from Bates Security, as well as other Installer of the Year and Integrated Installation of the Year winners and finalists.
How does Bates Security provide exceptional service to its customers?
Jeremy Bates, Bates Security General Manager/Owner: First, I would say that when we hire a new employee that no matter what the position or job duties are, everyone is in “customer service” and we reinforce this philosophy throughout the year, especially at our company quarterly meetings. Customer service starts with the moment we speak with a potential new customer. Call-ins and E-mails are handled by our sales department and we emphasize that we do not install “cookie-cutter” systems. We meet with each and every potential new customer not only to design a system that meets the needs of their unique home, but we also use this time to introduce ourselves and tell our story. Our installer does not leave the new customers home/business unless he is confident that the user is comfortable operating the system. Our Customer Service Center is the main department responsible for making sure the daily needs of customers is met. They interface with the monitoring stations, coordinate our service technicians out servicing customer systems, handle system data and other changes and in general, answer or facilitate the answering of any customer inquiries. Two of our customer service representatives work primarily in the field to provide training and other assistance for customers. The sole focus of this department is to make sure the customers are being provided the best service we can deliver. Our ability to utilize and leverage technology enhances efficiencies that provide improved service in every area. We use SedonaOffice, which allows us to run an efficient operation and we also utilize a GPS tracking software program to track our install and service vehicles in order to help us deliver efficient and timely service. Our CSC and lead install and service technicians from the field can also interface real time with our monitoring stations, which is very efficient in taking care of customer needs. We continue to have a willingness to invest in systems, software and other technologies that will provide real benefit in servicing customers. We also provide an online Customer Service Center that allows for service requests, code, access and data changes, bill payment, alarm permit information and more.
Olivia Duvall, Bates Security Customer Service Center Manager: Our local Customer Service Center works directly with the customer on any issues, questions, or concerns they have. We have policies and procedures in place to make sure the customer’s satisfaction & sense of security is always our top priority. I believe we provide exceptional service to our customers in many different ways. We are all team players who have one common goal: serve our customers as best as we can. We all work together to resolve a customer concern, never pushing hard cases to the side. We take the issue on until it’s complete and the customer is satisfied. The CSC is fully staffed with knowledgeable individuals, who are here to answer any calls, questions and address any concerns. Customers can call and speak with a live person. We believe our customer’s happiness is of the utmost importance.
Bryan Bates, Bates Security Commercial Sales Manager/Owner: We always listen to our customers’ concerns. We strive to find an answer and explain it to the customer so they understand what happened and why it happened. We strongly believe in satisfying our customers no matter the cost. Our company practices this in all departments. We definitely want our customers to feel happy with our services.
Please supply some specific examples of your customer service in action.
Duvall: We have maintained our procedure to make a follow-up call to the customer after every incident when the authorities are dispatched. We started this procedure to help us stay in touch with our customers even when we are not actually doing the monitoring. This allows the customer to go over the dispatch with us and ask us any questions they have about the dispatch or procedure and helps us ensure the system is functioning properly. During the follow-up call we verify that everything is OK and we get all the information about the incident. We verify the call list and address of the location to make sure everything is correct. If it was a false alarm we remind the customer of the local false alarm ordinance and try to troubleshoot with the customer to see why the dispatch took place. If the dispatch was caused by user error we attempt to go over the correct way to use the system and if we feel the customer may need additional training we offer to send a customer service representative to their location. If the customer is unsure of why the alarm went off and the customer service representative is unable to help the customer figure it out we offer to send a technician to troubleshoot the issue.
We recently had a customer call in because someone knocked on her door and identified himself as a competing sales company. He pressured our customer into letting him into her home. While the salesman was speaking with her husband, our customer called us and told us of the situation and that she felt threatened by the salesman and his pushiness. The customer service representative that our customer was speaking with kept her on the phone while another rep called the police. Our customer was extremely thankful and appreciated our genuine concern for her safety.
How is your customer service evaluated and continually improved?
Bryan Bates: We utilize social media to our fullest advantage. We are extremely active on Facebook and Twitter and encourage our customers to send in photos, take part in real-time discussions right on the site and are sure to respond quickly to any concern or issue that a customer will post on our social media. We have received several leads, resolved several issues and have a great following each of our social media networks.
Duvall: After the installation of the customer’s system is completed we mail the customer a packet and one of the documents is a survey that allows them to evaluate the installation, salesperson, and technician. All returned customer surveys are reviewed by management so that any issues are addressed. Our customer service representatives are in constant training. Whether it is on new software or handling specific situations, we take every opportunity to improve.