Do You Know Your Monitoring Center’s Procedures?
The time to learn a monitoring company’s default response is before the signals are sent, not at 3 a.m. in the middle of a thunderstorm.
A number of factors go into choosing a monitoring company that you can stand behind. Reputation, redundancy, reliability and rates are probably at the top of your list. However, one paramount factor that is often overlooked is response; as in HOW will the monitoring company respond as a default to your customers’ signals.
While it may seem that “monitoring is monitoring,” it’s not — and different companies may have default responses to different types of signals.
The time to learn a monitoring company’s default response is before the signals are sent, not at 3 a.m. in the middle of a thunderstorm because I can almost guarantee that the default response will be different from what your customers expected.
The good news is that you can probably work with your monitoring company to define the response you want for each signal type. Response procedures are the cornerstone of customer service and it is critical to understand your monitoring center’s alarm handling protocols and be able to use them to your advantage.
Understanding your monitoring center’s default response instructions is important even if you’ve been with them for a while. If you haven’t checked recently, ask your monitoring center to send you a copy of their response SOPs to all alarm, trouble and supervisory signals along with their default emergency procedures.
Once you understand the defaults, then you can work with your monitoring center and learn how you can customize responses to create efficiencies and improve customer service.
For example, should lower priority signals like power failures or trouble signals be handled by the monitoring center (at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning), or would it be better for your service manager get a report on Monday morning, make appointments and generate service revenue?
Dispatchers are always prepared and willing to help your customers the best way they can; however, dispatchers will not have the technical knowledge to assist a customer with resetting a trouble signal or have the ability to schedule a service call on the spot. This can potentially frustrate customers who feel they’re being passed around, waiting and trying to get service.
Instead, consider having the low priority signals recorded to history automatically and work with your monitoring center to determine how you can get daily reports that you can act upon right away.
This gives your team an opportunity to proactively interact with your customers and help resolve the problem as quickly as possible. You also can use the occasion to update account information and talk to them about any new services you have to meet their changing needs.
When it comes to emergency situations like hurricanes, floods and other storms, being prepared isn’t half the battle, it is the battle. Why? Because standard SOPs can change during severe weather. Understanding these potential changes can help you make quick critical decisions and communicate with your customers when time is of the essence.
I’d recommend reviewing your monitoring center’s emergency procedures and crafting a message to your customers to have ready if situations change that lets them know how it can affect them.
If you live in an area that is frequently affected by summer storms, wintery weather, flooding, or any anything else Mother Nature can throw at you (who isn’t?), think about making this an annual notification to your customer base reminding them of the “season” and what could change with your company and their monitoring.
You may also want to consider giving them emergency contact numbers for someone who can help them (from your company, the city/county, etc.). If the monitoring center is to handle your customer calls and inquiries during a specific event, it is imperative that you give them updated contact information so they can reach you in an emergency in your area.
When the situation returns to normal, this is the best time to review what worked, what didn’t and determine whether or not the temporary changes to your procedures should be permanent. Sometimes adjustment, adaptation and growth come directly after a significant shift in design, situation or disaster. If you wait until later, you may not remember important details.
Once you’ve reviewed all the procedures, let the monitoring center know how they can help you achieve any new goals you have with contacting customers or managing emergencies based on what you learned. Good communication with your monitoring center team can help you implement new ideas, and identify better methods to achieve the best outcomes.
Ultimately, your monitoring center is your business partner and can assist you with setting up response procedures that meet the expectations you set with your customers.
Monitoring centers are also a great resource for helping you improve customer service, efficiencies and even preparing for an approaching storm to ensure your customers enjoy the comfort and peace of mind that your company represents.
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