Best? Just Ask Their Customers

The dictionary defines “best” as being of the highest quality, excellence or standing. Great, but how is it achieved? Looking at the three companies featured in this 2009 Best of the Best issue, although they are all very distinct operations, each is centered around a universal principle: The customer comes first.

A lot of people say that, but often it is merely lip service – a fact that has twisted proverbial wisdom into cliche. Some may spout this maxim because they feel obligated to do so but they lack follow-through. In extreme cases, it may be an act of outright deceit. On the other hand, even the best intentions can be lost, forgotten or distorted as business dynamics shift and personnel changes over time.

Then there are those companies such as Security Systems of America (SSA), Stanley Convergent Security Solutions (CSS) and The Protection Bureau. They allow customers’ needs and best interests to steer every aspect of the business. They realize that message and action plan must emanate from the top of the organization. It must be disseminated and supported both horizontally and vertically, on a continual basis, throughout the enterprise.

Before decisions are made these companies ask themselves, “Which course of action would produce the best outcome for the customer?” Yet these security contractors are fully aware that kissing up to customers alone means little. It has to be fully backed up by staffers who possess the skills, training, attitudes and commitment to consistently meet or exceed customers’ expectations.

All of this has been plainly evident in my conversations with Stanley CSS President Tony Byerly, and his predecessor Tim Whall, as well as a dozen other executives and managers within the business. It became even more vivid when I visited the ProtectionNet Center in Plymouth, Minn.

I was thoroughly impressed by the efficiency and technology I saw on display. The state-of-the-art facility offered employees the ideal mix of morale boosting, positive reinforcement and communications, and the tools to ensure desired levels of productivity and customer support. Stanley CSS, an SSI Installer of the Year, has high standards and extensive metrics to sustain, and even surpass, them. Read the full story on page 54 to see how they get it done.

Before his passing earlier this year, Keith Ladd, founder of The Protection Bureau, and I frequently spoke about customer service, from big-picture company culture considerations to the subtlest nuances. He would share these ideas with most anyone who would listen, but alas too many people think they know better. It became abundantly clear to me that this family founded and run company went above and beyond to create customers for life.

The Protection Bureau, SSI‘s other Installer of the Year, is clued in that customer satisfaction remains a moving target and that it is even more important to reach out during times of economic strife. That’s why Keith’s son and president, Matt, is injecting the business with an even greater commitment by spearheading ambitious new initiatives. Find out all about them on page 58.

Like The Protection Bureau, SSA is based in Pennsylvania and recently passed the generational baton from founder and CEO Art Beaver to son and President Brice. In my talks with Carl Sandulli, vice president of Engineering Sales & Services, I discovered how SSA structures its services and resources to meet clients’ specific needs.

That approach includes the company’s push to become a single-source provider, which streamlines and simplifies the customer experience – and also saves them money. See how this translates into SSA’s Integrated Installation of the Year.

These companies prove that although proclamations such as “the customer is king” may seem trite, in practice it lays the groundwork for long-term business success. How did you extend yourself to your customers today?

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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