Monitoring Matters: Customer Care Now Builds Loyalty Later

An astute alarm dealer recently said, “Every time there’s a service call, we have the potential to lose a customer.”

With the costs of customer acquisition and recurring revenue factored in, losing a customer has a huge repercussion. That’s why it’s important to be proactive with customer service before problems arise, so instead of worrying about losing customers you can focus on strengthening relationships. Following are a few solutions to do just that.

Make a Cheat Sheet

Many alarm dealers use a third-party service provider for monitoring and their customers often call the dispatch number when there are system troubles after business hours. This happens mostly when the control panel starts beeping or the annunciators are blaring.

All the customer wants is for someone to make the noise stop. Unfortunately, with so many hardware models, there is no way personnel can troubleshoot these situations.

One suggestion to help ease a subscriber’s pain during these tense situations is to create stickers or labels with system information that can be placed on the inside of the keypad. List a few short facts or instructions on how to use the system. Just think about the most common subscriber problems and address those issues. Examples include:

  • Give     instruction to arm/disarm or override the system specific to the control     panel model
  • Remind     subscribers to check nonconnected smoke detectors for noise
  • Suggest     that customers list a password hint

Replace the Batteries

Back-up batteries are only functional for a certain amount of time and will need to be changed during the lifecycle of system devices. Since most manufacturers identify how long batteries should remain operational, why not remind customers about the need for new batteries a few months prior to the projected expiration date?

Taking this proactive step has many benefits, the first of which is generating service revenue. Secondly, this is an opportunity to educate customers about the need for back-up batteries. Explain  if a premise loses power and the batteries are dead, there will be no alerts from the system, meaning no burglar or fire protection. Nor will there be alerts regarding the sump pump, CO detectors or other system devices.

Check Your Invalid Signals

The dispatching process is automated, yet there are situations that call for interpretation by the central station staff. When the central station receives an invalid signal without instruction on how to handle it, the signal must be handled manually. This puts the burden on personnel to summons a manager to decide if a dispatch is needed because some formats — DMP, SIA and Contact ID among others — provide enough information to indicate what may have happened, meaning the system shows a fire or burglar alarm signal, but no parties are listed for notification.

From the central station point of view, it is always better to err on the side of caution and send emergency responders if there is any chance help may be needed. However, the end user — depending upon their community and regulations that govern alarm systems — may now be charged a fee for generating a false alarm.

To minimize these judgment calls, dealers should review all invalid signals and assign conditions for every scenario. It’s also a good idea to choose a call-back option for invalids that will suit your company and subscribers.

Also, keep in mind that by fully educating customers at the time of the purchase about their system — and their responsibilities for maintaining it — alarm dealers are at less risk of losing those accounts when service is needed. Being proactive and addressing situations before they become an issue is a big step toward minimizing attrition.

Kevin Lehan is manager of public relations for Chicago-based EMERgency24.


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