Controlling Security Account Attrition With Greater Aplomb

Security alarm dealers need to prioritize their resources to control account attrition.

Today’s market for alarm monitoring is more competitive than ever. Alarm companies have to work very hard to generate a new customer for monthly alarm monitoring service. Some larger companies have massive marketing budgets allocated for the creation of new alarm monitoring accounts. But even the smaller alarm dealers have a keen appreciation for what it takes to generate even one new monitored alarm account.

Given that it is so difficult and expensive to add even one new account, alarm companies should take extra precautions to keep their existing accounts. Far too often, the focus is on account creation and far less focus is given to controlling attrition. So with that as a guiding principle, let’s discuss some ways alarm companies can be proactive in this endeavor, which ultimately helps grow value, equity and profits.

Put Someone in Charge of Account Attrition

Obviously, happy customers are more apt to be long-term customers and dissatisfied customers are more apt to cancel. The best way to control attrition is to deliver good service and to be proactive in customer relationships. One way to accomplish this is to monitor data provided from the central station. At the very minimum, alarm dealers should be reviewing the last 24 hours of alarm activity from their account base. A good policy to follow is to place a call to every customer with alarm activity from the previous day. The alarm company should also be acutely aware of customers with multiple alarms occurring over time, addressing the cause of those alarms and ensuring those customers’ systems are properly serviced if necessary.

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Alarm companies should also have someone designated for handling account retention. All inquiries regarding cancellation should flow through this person. For smaller dealers, this could be the owner. This person should be well trained in customer relations including calming upset customers and turning angry customers into raving fans. Be mindful this is a unique skill and special attention should be given to find the right employee with the right attitude. Nothing runs a customer off faster than a company representative with a bad attitude.

This person also needs to have the authority to make on-the-spot decisions regarding account retention. This could mean issuing credits or offering free months to keep the customer. Frequently, customers are allowed to cancel their account when they could have been saved by a person with some finesse in customer service. Alarm dealers generally spend hundreds of dollars to create one account; why not spend a few more to keep the account?

How to Handle Relocation, Financial Factors

When a customer calls in to cancel because of financial distress, like loss of a job, the alarm dealer can offer to work with the customer to provide suspension of alarm monitoring charges for a certain period of time, say 90 days. This may allow the customer to get a new job and get back on their feet and start to pay when they have steady income. The PR that an alarm company gains by doing this is substantial, not to mention the increased likelihood that the customer will be a customer for life and a great referral source.

RELATED: Positive Attrition Trends Begin to Take Root

A huge driver of attrition is customer relocation. In some cases, the alarm company can get the customer’s new location as well as the person moving into the old location. It is important, however, to know that there are several companies that perform national service and installation on a contract basis. Alarm companies can reach out to a national service company for assistance in either taking over the existing system at the customer’s new location or they can install a new system if none exists. Attention does need to be paid to licensing requirements when these installations occur out of the dealer’s home area.

But again, everything comes back to customer service as the most important factor in account retention. The monitoring center must be providing courteous and timely response to the alarm company’s customers. The alarm company and the central station should always be communicating an “I care about you” attitude. And you’ll find customers who feel valued and important will prove to be long-term subscribers.

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About the Author


Mark Matlock is Senior Vice President at United Central Control, a division of Lydia Security Monitoring Inc.

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