6 Ways For Alarm Dealers to Tap Into Central Automation
In what ways can alarm dealers utilize their central station’s automation system to improve their entire operation?
Virtually every contract central station in 2015 gives their alarm dealer customers access to the central station’s automation system via a Web portal, so the dealers can see their account data and generate reports. The alarm dealer’s login will, of course, only allow them to view their own company’s data. There are a lot of tools available to alarm dealers through their central’s automation system that can assist dealers in running a more efficient and profitable operation.
Let’s elaborate on some that you may find valuable.
- A.M. Notify Report – Every morning, the system can E-mail the dealer the past 24 hours of alarm activity. Some dealers will call every customer that had an alarm and verify that they are OK and ask if they need service or additional training on the system. This kind of attention improves customer relations and leads to better retention. It can also lead to false alarm (and potential fines) by proactively dealing with the issues that are causing the alarms.
- Live Activity Scrolling Screen – This allows alarm dealers to watch their alarm activity in real-time as alarms come into the monitoring station. In the same manner as the a.m. notify report, it really helps dealers to get ahead of issues early. I know of some dealers who actually call every customer that had an alarm but only after they see that the central has finalized the incident. Now that’s great customer service!
- Contact List Report – As we all know, keeping customer and contact list data up to date is challenging. Phone numbers are constantly changing. A good way to address this challenge is to run a contact list report of all monitored customers and send it to the customers once every six months. This can be accomplished by placing the list in the customer’s invoice and asking them to notify the alarm company of any changes. Having current information aids the central station in the dispatching process and it mitigates customers being upset because a call list contact whose number changed was not notified after an alarm.
- No Activity Report – This helpful report will show customers that don’t have any activity on their account over a certain period of time. There are many reasons that customers may not have activity; probably the most common is that they turned their phone service off and the phone line was the sole communication path. No matter the reason, it is critically important to know which customers’ systems are not reporting. It is equally crucial to reach out to all these customers and generate service calls to test their system. This can also lead to an opportunity to upgrade the customer. In some cases, it will take an upgrade to allow the system to communicate to the central station. Again, this is a great way to increase revenue and reduce liability from a missed alarm signal.
- Various Apps – Most monitoring stations offer apps for their dealers. These can create a quick way to put the system on test and allow techs to see the signals drop in real-time. There are many apps out there that offer different functionalities. Some allow alarm dealers to change zone and contact information and site numbers, for example, or feature a mapping system that can direct the tech or installer to the customer’s site.
- Adds/Delete Report – Another great tool is this report, which shows all accounts that have been added and deleted during the month. This is an excellent way to help track attrition and account growth.
Many automated services are also capable of integrating with other systems. A good example is tying into a dealer’s customer relationship management (CRM) system. Such work allows alarm dealers to enter their own customer data and to simultaneously populate the central station’s automation system and their own billing system – this eliminates double data entry. There is also a report that can be run to identify missing fields such as permit numbers, passcodes, phone numbers, etc. This can also help dealers to be proactive in updating their accounts with reliable information.
I have only scratched the surface of the capabilities of the typical central’s automation. I recommend alarm dealers check with their monitoring providers and have someone outline what is available to them. Naturally, some automation systems are much more robust than others, so the availability of reports will vary from station to station. But it is clear that in most cases, whatever is offered can be of great assistance to dealers in running their companies more efficiently and in better serving their customers.
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