The Next Normal

Ways to evolve to better meet the needs of your customers after the ‘great reset’

After the COVID-19 pandemic and safer-at-home restrictions of 2020, many homeowners and businesses are well on their way to returning to their ‘next’ normal. Some have been eager to put the past behind them, and others are taking note of how 2020 helped evolve and shape their lifestyles for the better.

Homeowners are interested in investing more in their surroundings. In fact, a study by Harvard University projected a healthy pace of mid-single digit gains in annual home renovation and repair spending this year, with 4.8 percent growth by the first quarter of 2022.

Businesses are bringing back employees and equipment to meet pace with new demand, while others have adopted hybrid working schedules and an enhanced “phygital” (physical + digital) shopping experiences.

What remains at the core is our role as life safety and security stewards, and that job is more important than ever as families manage hybrid schedules and businesses continue to evolve their offerings. The resulting sense of comfort and confidence, not only through the life safety technologies we produce and supply but especially in the customer experience and interaction we offer.

That latter part – an enhanced customer experience – is a key element that all industries need to really examine, and convey to their customers, as we enter into the next normal.

CAPTURING INTEREST IN THE NEXT NORMAL

Smart home manufacturers are all measuring and monitoring the shifts made to daily life, lifestyles and household patterns that occurred as a result of safer-at-home lifestyles, and will continue to adjust based on those trends to meet customer needs. Because, in fact, those highly intending to make changes to a home express a higher inclination of buying smart home devices in the future, with 69% planning to buy at least one smart home device, compared to 40% on average, as reported by recent data from Parks Associates.

You have heard the phrase, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’ Well, that is exactly what’s happening as intent increases for entry-level, self-installed awareness systems… it’s also elevating the interest for professionally installed solutions.

To capture that interest, any marketer will tell you that you need to focus on the four Ps (Product/Service, Place, Price and Promotion) to be included in the consideration set and shopping experience. That online shopping experience – in the “phygital” era – is paramount.

As customers become aware of their need for the product/ service, they will shop around and educate themselves on the market. The local, trusted dealer that has served its community (place) for 20+ years has an established reputation of a successful track record. Does the promotion of your service align to how customers purchase products today? Does your marketing put you into their consideration set? Is your pricing transparent? Is the shopper able to navigate your website easily and comparison shop? Do they understand the next steps in the purchase process?

As lifestyles meld into the next normal, industries are looking for strategies to remain competitive and relevant, and those companies that are evolving to capture interest and elevate the customer shopping experience can better out-pace the competition.

OFFERING CONVENIENCE WITHOUT COMPROMISE

According to industry research, the current popularity of smart doorbells helps raise the adoption prospects for a host of smart security devices, and the video doorbell forecast is expected to continue to grow. Yet, I have always said: “Don’t rely on a video doorbell to save you during a life safety situation.”

If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that we need to have good tools when dealing with a crisis. During a home fire or burglary, a simple awareness solution – without professional monitoring – is just not going to cut it.

The professional security industry has historically been known to customers as a “Do it For Me” service. Yet, during the last 18 months, some dealers have started to use “Do It With Me” (DIWM) installations as a great middle ground. Many large dealers that performed DIWM installations during the pandemic have since returned to face-to-face installation and interaction to offer an experience beyond its intrinsic value.

“Do It With Me” represents a potentially perfect middle ground for companies that have already adapted some of their operations and installation processes during the pandemic. The DIWM approach combines the convenience of a DIY approach with assistance from a professional, and it can be an alternative solution, such as adding a sensor to a previously installed system, replacing parts or radio or a less intricate solution installed easily on demand with the help of a video tutorial.

It can minimize time on site or even a truck roll, and it offers the homeowner convenience, while mitigating the pain points that are commonly associated with DIY-installed solutions. In fact, we often hear that homeowners will abandon a DIY project after frustration with the technical complexity, integration issues with existing systems, and lack of customer service.

Regardless of the installation method, a fundamental aspect of security is helping people to keep their homes safe, secure and smart; and demand for those services is on the rise. According to Parks Associates, forty percent of security system owners are planning to upgrade their system, and more than 40% report these plans relate to COVID-19. The past year and half presented more than enough worries, but the customer’s shopping and installation experience does not have to be one of them.

This article originally appeared in the September / October 2021 issue of Security Today.

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