How Affiliated Won the 2020 Monitoring Technology Marvel Award
The monitoring center has developed and implemented full-featured text messaging platforms for its alarm and PERS accounts that are improving response and user convenience.
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Affiliated’s primary monitoring center in Union was purpose-designed and built as a hardened, UL-compliant facility. Even with 100% uptime from Day 1, management was determined to achieve geographic redundancy. Thus in 2017 another monitoring center, which Affiliated substantially upgraded, was acquired in Houston.
The second center now provides 100% redundancy for all monitoring services. It also affords the flexibility to dynamically staff across both monitoring centers to respond to any situation — including the COVID-19 crisis.
“While having multiple generators and an entire redundant facility were steps taken to ensure an equipment failure or natural disaster wouldn’t impact our monitoring operations, we also knew there were scenarios that would impact our staff’s ability to reach the monitoring center,” says Affiliated’s Managing Director, Operations, Carmelo Mosca. “We were able to move 85% of our monitoring team to home-based operations within a week of the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders. Despite some struggles, the combination of our IT team and tenured managers allowed us to rapidly shift to mostly remote agents, and do so with no impact to monitoring performance.”
Proven recruiting, onboarding and training practices for its monitoring agents also loomed large in Affiliated’s practically seamless transition, from a customer perspective, dealing with something as unexpected and high magnitude as a historic pandemic. It all starts with a rigorous application process consisting of aptitude assessments, a personality assessment, a computer skills assessment and an interactive voice-based diction analysis. Fewer than 1% of applicants ever become certified Affiliated agents.
Once selected, applicants participate in the firm’s best-in-class training programs, led by a dedicated and experienced chief learning officer. It begins with a six-week, classroom-focused initial training program that sets the bar high for a career-long initiative to learn and improve.
“Once an agent is on the job, they participate in ongoing performance evaluation through analysis of KPI analytics, live call evaluations and coaching sessions,” says Head of Contact Center Operations Rob Sutton. “Our industry-recognized mentorship program helps us to groom our monitoring agents for advancement. Our recognition for top performers includes a ‘Care Bonus’ for employees who go outside the scope of their position to aid customers, help us build loyalty and reduce turnover.”
Another unique aspect of Affiliated’s operations is a commitment to reducing false alarms that led to establishing what it calls its HEART team, an acronym for High and Excessive Activity Reduction. HEART members work closely with dealers to identify troublesome accounts that may require service or programming changes.
“By proactively addressing these accounts, we help our partners avoid dissatisfied customers, unnecessary dispatches and false alarm fines,” adds Sutton.
Any way you slice it, Affiliated Monitoring would appear to cover all the bases with a winning — as in Marvel Award — blend of technology, people and processes.
ASSESSING AFFILIATED’S TOP 3 CHALLENGES
(As told by CEO Daniel Oppenheim)
▶ COVID-19: “While we have had zero operational impact as a result of COVID-19, with many unknowns and a foggy future, we must navigate slowly and carefully through uncharted waters.”
▶ Technological complexity: “Our dealers constantly need to expand their product offerings and bring more technology into their portfolios. Our job is to make this as easy and simple as possible for our partners, and enable them to remain competitive by selling these new technologies.”
▶ Growing the transfer team: “During the past few years, we have seen huge growth in the number of large, bulk account transfers into our monitoring centers. There are a number of factors driving this — an increasing number of first-party and proprietary monitoring operations close their doors — whether due to economic pressure or an inability to keep up with the technologies. Other transfers are driven by the need for our partners to offer the new technologies mentioned in this article.
“Not all third-party monitoring centers can provide the support and capabilities needed to ensure success in today’s competitive security marketplace. As a result of these demands, we continually need to add additional staff to our dedicated transfers team. Members of the team must be of the highest caliber with both industry and data analysis experience, and filling these roles can be challenging.”
View the slideshow for more Affiliated Monitoring images and insights.
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