Tech Marvel Winner National Monitoring Center Ready for What Comes Nexus
Discover the dealer tool behind this year’s Monitoring Technology Marvel Award winner–and learn more about the company behind it.
Having a direct correlation to market-leading technology and service has been a hallmark of Southern California’s National Monitoring Center (NMC) ever since it was founded in 2001 by current President Woodie Andrawos and Michael Schubert.
So it’s fitting that the third-party provider was not only the first-ever recipient of the Monitoring Technology Marvel Award but that it has also become the first-ever two-time winner.
“NMC’s approach to technologies is driven mainly by dealer demand,” says Andrawos. “While bringing in new technologies is at the core of who we are as a company, we aim to be strategic about the new technologies we add to our portfolio.
“NMC is frequently approached by vendors that have developed emerging technologies and services and while we’re happy to evaluate new offerings, we are careful not to expend resources until we are 100% certain that it can deliver strong profit margins for NMC and our dealers,” he says.
That progressive yet measured and strategic approach to rolling out new dealer offerings and tools fed mightily into the conceptualization, introduction and roll out of a game-changing advantage for NMC’s monitored services partners called Nexus.
This centralized hub delivers NMC dealers 24/7/365 access to critical data they can utilize to improve customer service, create operational efficiencies to serve customer accounts better and reduce liability from problematic end-user sites.
“No other monitoring center has a business application that streamlines day-to-day tasks and provides powerful sales and business intelligence. NMC is truly transforming the security monitoring industry,” says Andrawos.
A panel of independent judges agrees with that assessment, resulting in NMC’s second TMA/SSI Monitoring Technology Marvel Award. The mission of the Marvel program — jointly established in 2018 by The Monitoring Association and Security Sales & Integration — is to recognize monitoring centers that create and/or use cutting-edge technology, and to raise awareness of these new technologies.
Other past Marvel winners include ADT, Affiliated Monitoring, CPI Security and USA Central Station.
Continue on to discover more about what makes Nexus something special, as well as NMC’s stances on technology, monitoring and more.
Taking High-Tech High Road
Headquartered in Lake Forest, Calif., with a fully redundant location in Irvine, Texas, NMC today provides 100% dealer-contracted monitoring services to approximately 220,000 residential and 140,000 commercial customer accounts. NMC’s multilayered approach to redundancy is broken down into several categories.
The company has documented comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity plans that cover telecom, IP and station rollover redundancies. To ensure uninterrupted service, NMC uses multiple carriers and redundant network systems for telecom communications.
Dealers have access to TouchTone service that balances traffic over multiple carriers, and the service automatically fails over to the backup carrier if the primary carrier experiences a disruption or failure. The company also uses BGP for all IP communications.
NMC’s other layers of redundancy include a dedicated AT&T circuit that acts as a fourth-level backup, and alarm dealers are given back-up AT&T numbers that allow yet another layer of telecom redundancy should all TouchTone carriers drop. The central station also has dedicated local termination numbers that dealers can use if all toll-free lines are down.
“Monitoring station redundancy is critical, and NMC is set up with two identical receiver and telecom configurations at both its California and Texas UL-Listed and FM-Approved stations,” says NMC Vice President of Operations Todd Shuff.
“This enables NMC to immediately move all the telecom traffic to any of its monitoring stations with a flip of a switch or a single phone call,” he says. “We also go above and beyond the physical operating aspect with a comprehensive cybersecurity component that protects and defends station systems against attacks and failures.”
The TMA Five Diamond center’s wide range of monitoring services stretches far beyond traditional burglar and fire alarms. Other services and technologies include access control, PERS, temperature, medical, waterflow, tracking/GPS, CO, wearables, video surveillance and more that bring dealers evermore recurring revenue opportunities.
The company has in particular been among the industry’s pioneers in video monitoring, an area magnified by its 2018 merger with Netwatch. NMC’s Netwatch Proactive Video Monitoring (PVM) service runs on the proprietary CRATOS suite of software to intelligently manage and analyze actual vs. false alarms.
“We are finding that businesses are needing more from their security providers. They want video,” says Andrawos. “End users want solutions that are reliable and proactive, not reactive. That is where proactive video monitoring comes in.
“NMC’s sister brand, Netwatch, delivers a proactive video monitoring service that has a 98% efficacy rate in preventing crimes before they occur. Netwatch leverages video analytics and highly trained monitoring operators to provide immediate intervention and stop crime,” he says.
Taking Things Personnel
Evidence of meticulously trained and skilled employees reverberates throughout NMC and its 250-strong workforce. After all, leading-edge technology is only part of the success equation.
“NMC’s training program for alarm agents is highly selective and comprehensive,” says Shuff.
The recruitment process involves aptitude testing and skillset profiling to identify candidates who fit classification requirements for the job. Proven candidates are then screened by the training management team through a series of tests and interviews.
Those who make it through are enrolled in the Basic Training Academy, where they undergo a modular and structured training program. This covers alarm industry background and history, technology, alarm response laws, protocols and dialogues.
NMC’s learning management systems technology aids instructors with content delivery and evaluations and includes interactive learning exercises using alarm simulators to generate all types of alarm signals. Agents must pass written exams and demonstrate their ability to handle alarm signals to graduate from the Basic Training Academy and become TMA Five Diamond Certified, medical handling certified, and licensed in all required states and jurisdictions.
Alarm agents then continue their education and training through a six-month phase focused on call taking and customer service skills, dispute resolution tactics, and communication skills. Afterward, they undergo a 12-month phase that focuses on advanced technology training covering specialized monitoring services such as video monitoring, MPERS, elevator calls, emergency phone monitoring and tier-one technical support services handling.
This training phase is designed to keep alarm agents up to date with the latest industry technologies and practices.
These types of regimented practices also flow into NMC’s tactics where minimizing false alarms is concerned.
“NMC is deeply dedicated to minimizing false alarms and effectively managing alarm activity,” says Shuff. “We have established an Alarm Reduction Committee that meticulously analyzes alarm activity across different categories. The ARC team then formulates actionable strategies to decrease false alarms and overall signal frequency.
“Working closely with our dealers, we leverage our alarm history database through data mining techniques to identify problematic accounts and develop targeted solutions,” he says.
The ARC helped NMC cut false alarms 48% in 2020. Other best practices include Enhanced Call Verification (ECV) to significantly reduce dispatches; prior dispatch suppression that reduces repeat dispatches for excessive or runaway problem accounts; prior false alarm policy, which cuts dispatches by not calling within a specific time of a previous confirmed false alarm; AlarmAccount SMS, which allows subscribers to cancel an alarm or request dispatch; and video monitoring, which helps identify sources of alarms to prevent false dispatches.
Nexus Brings It All Together
NMC’s Nexus is a powerful new business intelligence and account management web application that enables its dealers to manage their accounts efficiently, access critical data, reduce liability, and improve customer service and operational efficiencies.
“Nexus was designed from the ground up with direct feedback from our dealers on how to make their day-to-day operations more efficient and provide a higher-level of service to their subscribers,” says Demian Valle, NMC director of engineering.
“This process starts with a better understanding of operations, what is happening with alarms and how to reduce false dispatches so that police are responding to incidents that need their attention,” he says. “Nexus is designed to deliver efficiencies to alarm dealers, so they can help their customers protect what matters most to them.”
Nexus’ centralized hub allows dealers to easily manage their account information, access alarm data in real-time, and view business intelligence reports in one application at any time and from anywhere. With visual dashboards and downloadable reports for rapid sharing with account holders, Nexus is a comprehensive business management tool that increases productivity, delivers superior business intelligence, enhances customer service, and positions NMC dealers for long-term success.
The real proof of concept for Nexus has been the enthusiastic reception expressed by NMC’s existing loyal dealer network, as well as newcomers.
“Nexus had a soft launch rollout in December 2022 and all new dealers are onboarded into the system,” says Valle. “All current users have given NMC outstanding feedback and they have confirmed that Nexus creates efficiencies, limits liability and improves customer service.”
Building in More Value
The Nexus application includes rich mobile features such as active alarms views, the ability to place accounts on test, overall account management, view of problematic customer sites, monitoring health of the dealer’s business, and the online NMC Training Academy.
Nexus also includes an add-on feature called Pre-Move. This service connects with MLS to alert the dealer when any of their account sites are listed for sale. This allows their team to proactively work with their existing customers to retain their business for their new location and position them to introduce their services to the new owner once the property is sold.
Dealers using Nexus improve their customer service, save time and become more efficient, NMS officials says. Within the Nexus app, as mentioned, the central station also launched its NMC Training Academy. This portal educates dealers and their team on how to utilize Nexus and other NMC tools.
This learning center helps reduce the burden of dealer companies having to train their team and ensures they have consistent and accurate guidance on best practices and policies. With a subject matter expert behind the scenes, this new training portal features easy-to-follow videos and gamified features that makes learning engaging.
“We also offer the NMC Dealer Education Series to keep dealers well informed about the latest industry technology and services,” says Shuff. “This informative series consists of monthly webinars, ensuring that dealers stay up to date and equipped with the most current industry insights. By offering these educational resources, we actively support dealers in maximizing their potential.”
Nexus provides a Live Alarm View that displays all active alarms and a log of all previously logged alarms, including the actions taken by operators so users can quickly request or cancel a dispatch.
Dealers can also place an account on test directly from the app. Nexus also lists Runaway Accounts, Agency Dispatch Count, Agency Refuse to Dispatch, Excessive Alarm Activity, Unrestored Zones and No Activity Report. Here’s more detail:
Runaway Accounts — indicates an issue at the site, which, if not addressed, can create enormous liability for dealers.
Agency Dispatch Count — helps dealers address issues with accounts having excessive dispatches in order to prevent costly false alarm fees.
Agency Refusing to Dispatch — lists accounts where an agency refused dispatch, including a brief description of why dispatch was refused so dealers can take appropriate action.
Unrestored Zones — identifies customer locations where the zones have not been restored after being placed on test. It’s crucial information to ensure that customer sites are appropriately monitored.
No Activity Report — provides a visual dashboard of accounts that haven’t sent signals in a specific timeframe.
Monitoring Top Tech on Horizon
“By leveraging our more than 20 years in the monitoring business, we have developed a game-changing portal where our dealers have insights into their business like never before,” says NMC Vice President of Sales Mark Matlock.
Previously, dealers had to log into several different systems or analyze lengthy reports to create, update, compile, and access information needed to manage their overall business and subscriber base. With Nexus, they can rapidly and easily get the details needed to understand and operate their business optimally in one place.
Dealers are armed with the data necessary to deliver exceptional customer service to subscribers and can proactively address potential liabilities before they escalate. Nexus places NMC’s dealers at the center of digital transformation efforts and optimizes their digital experiences with their monitored services partner.
With modern, flexible technology to engage its dealers in the channels they prefer, NMC is able to assist them in identifying the most impactful areas to the customer experience.
“Nexus is part of our focus on optimizing common services like reporting, troubleshooting, and account management, which are now easier to complete,” says Matlock. “We look forward to continuously improving this experience to make it easier for our dealers to achieve simplicity that supports client success.”
Of course, for a forward-thinking technology-focused enterprise like NMC, there are still plenty of exciting developments and new offerings on the horizon to continue to help their dealer partners reach new growth plateaus.
“Emerging technologies, like PVM and AI, have their place in the industry and all of them will gain more traction in the future,” says Andrawos. “Dealers are more open than ever in regard to leveraging RMR-generating technologies into their portfolio of services. We see the dealer of the future positioning themselves as a ‘solutions company’ rather than a traditional ‘alarm company.’ That change will propel newer technology adoption.”
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