Think Like a Customer

If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?

This month’s great idea is from Joel Matlin, president and CEO of AlarmForce,which is based out of North York, Ontario,Canada,and has recently expanded to Georgia,Ohio and North Carolina.

MATLIN’S GREAT IDEA IS:

“Think like a customer!” Everything that AlarmForce has done, from its inception, has been done with an eye to what the customers want, not what we want to sell them.This is what separates the successful companies from the wannabes.

What intrigues me about Matlin is the fact that he understands intuitively what makes a business successful. When I asked him what his “great idea” would be, he didn’t hesitate for a second. Mind you, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I was absolutely stunned with the rapidity in which he answered the question and the simplicity of the answer I received!

It would be a pretty good idea to have a sign printed up and put on everyone’s desk, in their vehicles and possibly on their briefcase that was a reminder to think like a customer.

How might this concept work in a typical alarm company? The answer is simple. A customer calls your company and is put on hold by an automated attendant. The customer is then given a directory to choose from, and finally, after two or three connections, he gets to talk to the person who he was calling. Is that thinking like the customer? I think not.

If you are thinking like a customer, then you know how it feels to be put on hold, or have to go through menu after menu to get to the correct party. Automated attendants were pretty much developed for large companies with a large number of departments. Perhaps you should consider going back to the good old-fashioned idea of having someone answer the phone personally and direct the call. If you did, you would be thinking like a customer!

Let’s say you’re on a sales call and a potential customer, having just seen a presentation by your company, isn’t sure if he really needs a security system. “You know Mr. Prospect, many of our customers thought that way in the beginning. However, knowing that you are somewhat skeptical about the value of the system, keep in mind that it only has to work once to have paid for itself many times over.”

What this will mean to potential customers is that you’re not just there selling a security system, but rather putting yourself in their position, trying to understand some of the thoughts that may be crossing their minds. The concept of an alarm system working just once may be foreign to a prospect, but all of us in the industry know what that really means: It’s worked to protect another customer from an event that was both unexpected and unwanted.

Seizing the Opportunity

Many of the calls we get are really opportunities to provide additional quality service to our customers. At the end of a call, perhaps you might say something like, “By the way Mr. Customer, my records show you haven’t had an inspection of your alarm system in the past 12 months. Would you like us to schedule a visit to have your system tested and inspected?” In other words, use every opportunity to communicate with customers to create more customer service.

I have talked to some of the most successful presidents of companies in the industry, and consistently when asked about their great idea, they all believe in treating the customer like a king. That’s the reason we are going to be successful. It’s in direct proportion to the service we render our customers. If we constantly remind ourselves that everything we do has to be viewed from the customer’s perspective, we probably won’t be making any more mistakes. Or at least, not as many as we might have. Just think like a customer!

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About the Author

Ron Davis
Contact:

Ron Davis is the founder and president of Davis Mergers & Acquisitions Group, Inc., a firm that specializes in acquisitions and mergers. He has more than 40 years of industry experience.

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