Adding Valuable Services

Customer relationships, business acumen help meet growth challenges

For years, customers have relied on the expertise and knowledge of their security providers to meet the constantly changing demands of providing safety and security to their businesses and homes.

The industry’s advances in technology have never been as influential, beneficial and challenging to customers as they are today.

For security providers to stay as viable and productive as they have in the past, they must continue to leverage these developments into value-added services that benefit customers.

New technologies give security providers a great opportunity to bring additional value to their customers in the form of new services that increase security for the customer and revenue for the security provider. The new area of verified response has sprung up in response to the need for more reliable security industry dispatch for both customers and law enforcement agencies.

False alarms continue to plague most of the industry, resulting in low-priority alarm response to security providers who have not yet sought to verify their alarms.

By taking advantage of proven and emerging technology, security providers can offer alarm verification as an enhanced or value-added service for their customers. The two premier verification technologies are audio alarm verification and video alarm verification.

Audio Verification
For years, audio verification has verified that there are intruders at a customer’s protected premise. The use of listen-in, two-way and impact-activated audio has allowed many security dealers and their central stations to effectively reduce the number of false dispatches and increase the priority agencies put on their alarm. An advanced form of audio technology, “impact-activated audio verification,” has allowed exclusive security dealers not only to reduce false alarms but to successfully apprehend would-be burglars and prevent customers from suffering a loss.

Impact-activated audio is a patented Sonitrol technology that has helped Sonitrol security providers capture more than 164,000 intruders since 1977. These customer benefits also provide dealers higher revenue for their services while creating a stronger relationship with customers.

Historically, audio verification technology has been used successfully in just about every type of business, including banks, retail outlets, restaurants and schools. A large school system in Florida has relied on audio verification for more than 20 years. Over that time, audio verification has helped the system capture everything from students pulling harmless pranks to intruders attempting serious vandalism and theft.

When customers hear how impact-activated audio increases capture of offenders and results in reduced crime, they are thankful that they opted for the more-robust impact-activated audio over the less-expensive traditional security.

Audio technology continues to be a preferred method of verification, but the recent developments in video surveillance have opened up another affordable technology in the war on crime. Videofied is providing customers unique video and wireless products combined with enhanced video services. Videofied’s MotionViewer is at the heart of the company’s offering; it combines a camera, motion-PIR and illuminators in a battery-powered device the size of a coffee cup.

Catching the Intruder
When an intruder trips the MotionViewer, the camera sends a 10-second clip of the alarm over the cell network to the alarm monitoring center for immediate review and potential dispatch. This technology builds on the security concept that apprehensions are an effective deterrent to crime.

As with audio verification, police give video verification a higher priority because they know the alarm is real, intruders are present and the likelihood of apprehension is high. Stanley Convergent Security Solutions has taken the Videofied solution to the next level by fully integrating the advanced video technology with its online eServices tool. Stanley not only is able to provide video verification to its customers, but it also allows the customer to view the alarm video clips online 24/7, thus providing greater protection for the customer and enhanced revenue for Stanley. The focus on verified response has made its offering more law enforcement-friendly and is paying off for customers in higher priority alarm response.

Another way security product manufacturers can increase dealers’ revenue while providing more benefit to customers is by bundling all associated operational requirements. For example, wireless intrusion alarm does not require traditional phone lines or power to any device in the system, including the panel. This is a good technology solution for protecting remote facilities, construction sites or signal towers, where having or securing phone lines can be a challenge.

Security dealers wanting to provide complete services to their customers can establish a relationship with a wireless carrier so customers receive a one-stop shop, rather than having to contract with multiple vendors for their security protection. Customers love bundled services, whether it’s their security system, telecom or entertainment, because it is much easier to deal with one company.

Back when Stanley installed its first Videofied system, its customer had its first apprehension within a week. The video clips of the apprehension were made available to law enforcement for use during prosecution. The clip also is a powerful reminder to customers of the tangible service they are getting from their security provider, which had bundled all related security services together.

Managed Services
Another area where security providers can enhance their service and offerings, thus increasing business with their customers, is remote and managed services. Today, customers and their businesses face the challenge of doing more with less. Security providers who can perform key administrative and operational tasks for customers transform themselves from service providers to service partners.

Using new video surveillance technology that allows administrative and operational tasks to be performed remotely has resulted in an array of enhanced video support services. Three proven and emerging services include video system health check, video image quality check and video incident retrieval.

With video system health check, a security provider can remotely connect to a customer’s video system to perform daily, weekly or monthly system operational checks. Everything from checking the communication link, system functionality, camera operation and software upgrades can be verified, and the security provider can perform necessary correction taken by the security provider as needed. The security provider is ensuring the customer’s video system is operating at optimum levels at all times, without any involvement from the customer.

The service of video image quality check takes that health check to the next level. The security provider remotely provides diagnostics of the quality of the images being captured, including field of view and 24-hour image consistency. By remotely verifying and correcting image quality, the security provider is guaranteeing customers see exactly what they want to see, without the customers having lifted a finger.

Another service allowing customers to focus on their own business while the security dealer takes care of their video system is video incident retrieval as a service. With video incident retrieval, the security dealer remotely accesses the customer’s video system to retrieve video associated with any incident requested by the customer.

Banking customers, who have a high number of incidents such as check fraud, suspicious activity and robbery, often have too many incidents per day to handle effectively themselves. Thus, a security dealer providing this service for its customers saves them time while increasing their overall business.

Alarm Verification
Whether a security provider is adding enhanced services such as video alarm verification, audio alarm verification or remote managed services, the key to success is being able to provide all of these services at a higher quality level, at a lower cost level and faster than customers can do it themselves. This is no easy task for the average security provider. This is why average security providers tend to fall into the trap of providing basic service, which the customer views as a commodity and is unwilling to pay more than the lowest amount for. The inverse is true about the best-in-class security providers who make investments in technology, infrastructure, training of their people and the partnership with their customers.

These security leaders first establish their business relationships with customers, prove themselves with outstanding service and then continue to invest and expand in enhanced products and services, which will benefit the customers’ security and business.

These are exciting times for security dealers. Those who continue to innovate and use the advancements in technology will find themselves poised to meet the market demand and thrive.

This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Security Today.

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