How This Year’s PDQ Finalists Navigated the COVID-19 Crisis
SSI Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine chats with this year’s Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award finalists, Elite Interactive Solutions and Guardian Protection.
When I interviewed more than 20 security experts for last January’s annual SSI Forecast Issue about what they anticipated taking place this year, of course none of them predicted the monumental development that would call off all bets — the COVID-19 pandemic.
While alarm companies were fortunately able to continue installing and servicing security systems due to being classified as “essential workers,” lockdowns resulting in staffs working remotely along with shuttered customer sites and people reluctant to allow technicians into their buildings or homes confronted providers with unprecedented challenges.
Perhaps the harshest brunt of this COVID predicament has been sustained by the industry’s central monitoring stations and centers, which in many cases had to scramble to accommodate their operators or agents being physically, psychologically and technologically able to continue responding to alarm signals from their respective residences.
Having conferred with dozens of security company representatives, I can tell you the industry has gone well above and beyond to prove its mettle during this ordeal. We should all be extremely proud and grateful of how this has played out in that regard.
As two of the industry’s best-run companies, I took the opportunity to ask this year’s Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award finalists (see the October cover story) how they have navigated the COVID-19 crisis and what lies ahead on the other side.
Following is what Elite Interactive Solutions CEO Aria Kozak and Guardian Protection Vice President Care and Monitoring Operations Jason Bradley shared with me.
Describe your company’s response to the pandemic, how it impacted your staff and facility.
Kozak: Elite has an emergency action plan protocol in place for scenarios, such as natural disasters or acts of terror, allowing team members to continue operations uninterrupted. Staffing is never impacted because our agents can work remotely from home. Agents, supervisors and manager have access to laptops with all necessary applications that are usually kept in a secured offsite location. Our command center is structured to ensure all agents are socially distanced.
We provide PPE to all agents such as air purifiers, disinfectant spray/wipes, masks and hand sanitizer at each workstation. Supervisors check the temperatures of all agents entering the command center using a noncontact thermometer. As the pandemic began to affect major areas within our customer pool, we kept staffing and security at a 99% utilization ratio and continued to do our jobs. In fact, Elite has been able to provide more than 19,000 hours of additional remote guarding to all customer properties requesting extra coverage.
How has the pandemic changed the way your staff/facility monitors and interacts with clients?
Bradley: The current environment has certainly increased stress levels for our customers. Realizing this, our approach has been to ensure all customer-facing teams are extra aware and are taking additional steps to ensure smooth delivery of our service. That includes simplifying how customers can engage with us, communicating frequently, and working even harder to be upbeat and positive on our calls. Our teams have also been trained on common questions customers may have regarding our safety protocols.
Will opportunities emerge from the pandemic?
Bradley: We all look forward to a ‘return to normal,’ but the reality is some aspects of our security business may be impacted for many years to come. Thankfully, Guardian had already been making investments into new technologies that would allow us to enhance our service delivery.
The pandemic forced us to accelerate those investments and add new ones, including the ability to conduct virtual sales calls via consumer-friendly platforms, troubleshoot system issues with remote diagnostic tools and have employees utilize Cloud-based collaboration tools. This gives us flexibility to deliver for our customers well into the future.
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