Giving the People What They (Don’t) Want?

“Give the People What They Want” was an old song from the 1970s. It’s too bad that song has been forgotten. I can hum the tune, but I can’t remember the name of the band. Unfortunately, many alarm dealers are humming the opposite tune, “Give the People What They Don’t Want” when it comes to servicing their customers.

During Monitoring Automation Systems’ annual International Users Conference recently held in Irvine, Calif., representatives from some of the largest central stations in North America brainstormed on this topic. It was amazing that dealers were able to cite more than twice as many “services that customers don’t want but receive” vs. “services that customers want and receive.”

As the industry steadily watched its attrition rates climb from single digits to double digits, dealers often shrug their shoulders when asked why primary target, middle-class homeowners abandon their alarm systems. The reasons listed below may offer some of the answers.

Services that customers don’t want but receive from their alarm company:

– Complex systems that include unused bells and whistles and fancy services: For years, dealers have been accused of “overselling” unnecessary services to end users. This has led many companies to not try to sell any extra services at all. Instead of confusing homeowners with shunted zones and interior safe haven rooms that they don’t want, dealers need to concentrate only on the “extras” that clients want, like hardwired smoke detectors and line-cut detection.

– Long contracts: The mass-market sales technique dictates that contracts be signed to maintain the client base for an established time frame. Let’s face it, the contract benefits alarm companies, not the end users. Customers don’t want to sign contracts.

– Permits and false alarms: End users blame the alarm company for government regulations and fines.

– Scare-tactic selling vs. peace of mind: Dealers report that end users are offended by scare tactic sales techniques.

– Unnecessary reporting: The feedback from end users is that opening and closing reports, etc., are often not desired. The best way to determine if you are offering your clients unnecessary services is to poll them. Send out a mini-survey with your next round of invoices. Please send me the feedback you get.

Obviously, giving customers the services they desire is what dealers need to do. However, even that can go astray when companies don’t provide desired services.

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