The Central Station as a Resource, Not a Crutch
In a recent blog post I discussed the value of utilizing a wholesale central station as a cloud (read “Gaining Appreciation for Cloud-Based Monitoring”). Full-scale adoption of Web-based applications and services may be more than the average alarm dealer is seeking to take on, but it doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from this type of structure in a selected, scaled-down manner.
The subject matter I addressed in the blog is worth expanding upon. So I will outline how, with the adoption of some basic central station tools, security dealers can gain greater control while providing better customer service. I’ll also detail how utilizing automation and central station tools will help any dealer be recognized by their clients as an attentive, more professional security provider.
How to Rise Above Competitors
Most wholesale central stations offer a variety of automated services and tools for their dealers and end users to manage and audit their accounts. These include Web access to add or change data, telephony access for account testing, plus automated reporting and communications of these reports and/or events. With the useful addition of notebook computers, tablets and smartphones as the platform for remote communications, there are no excuses to keep any dealer of any size from expanding into these service offerings.
It is easiest to understand the value, and what I would consider the necessity, for utilizing these services to better support clients by getting back to the basics. Everything we do in this business begins and ends with providing a world-class, streamlined customer experience — from the look, feel and operation of an alarm system, to central station services and dedicated customer care.
Significantly, it is essential when a client phones their security company that the person handling the call be empowered to immediately complete the client’s request without the need for a return call. This includes data changes, communication of alarm history, testing, etc. While it may be easier for companies with full-time office staff to handle customer calls in such a manner, smaller shops that are willing to make the effort can provide the same simplified customer service.
Portability of communications, such as with the aforementioned smartphone and other mobile devices, has allowed for these enhanced services to be available to dealers of all sizes. Consider how much you can differentiate from the competition by providing immediate client satisfaction. No more, “We’ll call you back” or “Please hold on while I call the central station.”
The goal is to deliver immediate results by ensuring a quality customer experience. This can engender a deep and meaningful customer sentiment that you are a dedicated service provider. Dealers worry so much about maintaining their autonomy, and yet many actions taken in front of their clients demonstrate reliability on outside parties.
Most dealers believe, or should believe, that no one can service their clients better than they themselves. You are diligent in selecting the best outsource providers, just as you aim to provide superior personal service to your clients. With this in mind it is essential alarm dealers handle as many calls and requests as possible.
In short, it should be every alarm dealer’s goal that the central station only respond to signals and the communication of these events. Many may lament, and I’ve heard it firsthand, “Why should I take this on? I’m paying the central station; let them do it.” Or, similarly, “Why should I make the central station’s job easier?” Well, this is really not the right attitude. It’s not about taking on new tasks and responsibilities. It’s about providing the best customer experience and building your brand and reputation as a world-class service provider.
Peter Giacalone is President of Giacalone Associates, an independent security consulting firm.
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