How costly of an undertaking was this; how did you budget for it? How does it fit into ROI terms
Petrow: Ours is not a hard cost model. We know we will have better agency response and a happier customer that will not attrit if we address problems that cause dispatches. In addition, fixing repeat alarms reduces the central station traffic and associated costs for responding to the activations as well as allowing us to handle real emergencies in a more timely manner.
How difficult was it to get Vector Security’s personnel to conform to the new policies and procedures? What has the internal feedback been?
Patricia Killian (False Alarm Program Manager): There hasn’t been any difficulty. All employees are trained on our policies and procedures, which allow us to provide a higher level of customer service. We’re able to reach out to the customer and resolve the false alarm problem they may be having.
How do you coordinate efforts between your installation and monitoring departments/personnel? Are there a lot of meetings and discussions? What does each side bring to the table?
Killian: We utilize our software to flag accounts that have false alarms. The central station will assign a code to an account; that code generates notification to the branch managing the account. The managing branch then contacts the customer to resolve their problem and works with the central station if special instructions need to be placed on the account to avoid any further dispatches.
What are the advantages of operating your own central station rather than contracting with a third-party monitoring company?
Petrow: There are several advantages, but mainly we are able to hire and train our own operators on procedures that are specific to Vector Security. We are also able to better manage quality control as well as equipment upgrades to make sure our customers get the best and most up to date monitoring services possible.
What role do standards like CP-01, practices such as Enhanced Call Verification and training, NTS for example, play in successful alarm management?
Killian: ECV has been one of the best practices put in place, along with electronic verification. We saw an immediate decrease in the number of dispatches when we put these into play. These two practices alone reduced dispatches by 35%. CP-01 was instrumental in getting our manufacturers onboard with dispatch reduction, which allowed customers to be accustomed to having that few extra seconds to disarm their system versus the immediate transmittal of a burglary signal and subsequent busy signal on their phone line.
What were the challenges in implementing the plan on the customer side? Did any problem accounts become more problematic? What has the overall feedback been from your customer base?
Killian: We did not see a lot of challenges from residential customers, as our mailing campaigns informed them of the changes we were making and the benefits to them. For the few that complained, once they were advised of the reasons we were doing this and that we could save them from being fined by their municipality, they jumped onboard. Large retail accounts took a little more convincing. Our National Accounts Division (NAD) provided a great deal of training, and presented statistics and costs savings. Eventually the national retailers came onboard. That was probably one of our bigger challenges but our NAD team did well with it.
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?
Killian: We are well respected by colleagues regarding our program. We have had companies call to discuss what we do and how we do it. Our dispatch Web site has been shown to other companies, allowing them to view how we track our data.
How have the results meshed with your projections and expectations?
Killian: We set goals early on. Once we reached that goal we created another. Our goal now is to continue to reduce false alarm incidents each year, which we do, and to continue our program with the same enthusiasm that we started with.
Vector Security operates in a sometimes, cold and hostile weather environment. How does that affect your approach to technology, design/installations, maintenance/service and practices/procedures?
Killian: Cold weather can be difficult, but not to the same degree as the warmer weather that is accompanied by severe thunderstorms and hurricanes. Our technicians inspect doors and windows very carefully prior to placing sensors on them. Our offices involve all employees to make sure customers are serviced as soon as possible and discuss special instructions with customers to reduce their risk of accumulating false dispatches.
Can your approach act as a blueprint for other alarm companies to follow? Is it applicable to firms of all sizes?
Killian: I say yes, wholeheartedly. We believe our program is one of the best in the industry and our results back that up! However, there are a number of variables. Every company can and should have a program in place no matter what size they are. Smaller companies may not have the ability to dedicate an employee solely to a program; however, they can still implement a reduction program by using best practices.
What impact does the PDQ program have on the industry?
Killian: The PDQ program is very valuable to our industry. The information flow from the winners of these awards helps those companies that don’t have a program in place to start one, and those that do may find the information they need to fine tune and achieve their goals.
Vector Security is the first two-time PDQ winner. How has your alarm management program evolved since the first award?
Killian: We’ve learned so much since then and as more public safety agencies passed ordinances, we have had to continuously review our practices to make sure we were in compliance. Our offices have had to add staff to ensure compliance with permitting/registrations and requirements from these ordinances that may have been stricter than others. Our National Accounts Division created a department specific to registrations/permits for our national retail accounts.
Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 15 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. Follow him online via the Under Surveillance blog at securitysales.com/blog.
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