A System of Support
Dealers benefit from a monitoring company that keeps the customer top-of-mind
- By Megan Weadock
- Jan 01, 2012
In today’s ever-evolving security landscape, the “next best thing” often
eclipses the importance of the fundamentals. Even as new interactive
services and home control systems are introduced, at its core home security
in particular relies on dependable systems, fast response and, as
always, good customer service.
For dealers, quality customer service is essential. It’s important for a dealer
to partner with a monitoring company that takes the lead on customer service,
which keeps dealers free to continually find new accounts, do service
work and grow their business. By supporting the customer, a monitoring
company in turn supports its dealer base, making both parties more successful
in the long run.
John Mejia, vice president of customer care at Monitronics International, has
made customer and dealer support the primary focus of his department.
“It’s all about support,” he said. “Our agents are here to support our dealers
and the customers they sell to Monitronics. They eventually become Monitronics
customers. We’re on their side to make this a positive transition—because
if a customer is happy, we all win.”
Mejia and his team take a multi-pronged approach in their efforts to lead
the industry in customer service. Among other priorities, they focus on resolving
customer issues, retaining customers and protecting them from competing
dealers who use less-than-honest methods that lure homeowners from
their current alarm company. In the last few years, Monitronics has become
even more proactive in resolving customer issues and complaints, all to better
support the dealers and their customer base.
Dealers should look for a monitoring partner that maintains customer
service as its No. 1 priority. As a growing company with more than 700,000
customers and 600 dealers, it’s vital for Monitronics to develop focused, effective
customer service programs that work. Consider the volume of calls
the company takes. The Retention department averages 45,000 calls a month,
and the Account Resolutions department fields up to 1,500 calls a day—with
an average call time of 11 minutes. Numbers like this illustrate the time and
effort each rep devotes to each customer.
A Proactive Position
Tevis Roberts, account resolutions manager at Monitronics, said the company
has initiated a true culture change in order to foster positive relationships
between customers, call center representatives and dealers.
“Right now, we’re trying to take a more ‘customer advocate’ approach to our
calls,” he said. “We’re partnering with our dealers—who are really our internal
customers. I think that’ll help us better serve our customers and our dealers.”
Roberts and his team are on call to help customers with concerns about
their alarm system or contract. This saves the dealer time and simplifies things
for the customer.
Being proactive also means continually improving. For Monitronics reps,
training is an ongoing process. Mejia and his team are constantly examining
patterns in customer calls, looking for ways to improve service and the customer
“We have a goal of giving our agents 20 to 30 hours a year of additional
training, on top of their basic training,” Mejia said. “And that initial training
lasts three to five weeks and is a really involved process. We try to provide
some flexibility in how we resolve customer issues by really personalizing the
approaches in communicating to them. In the end, this team helps to save the
dealers money and headaches.”
Better and Better
Another major initiative at Monitronics began nearly two years ago, when
Mejia set out to improve the company’s Better Business Bureau ranking and
For alarm dealers, a company’s BBB ranking is important because it illustrates
a commitment to customer service. Dealers who partner with highly
ranked companies can rest assured that their customers will be taken care of.
In addition, a positive BBB ranking is a huge draw for many customers.
“By our standards, we initially had a less than ideal rating,” Mejia said. “We
started a bottom-up approach with customer complaints, examining each one
and working to fix it.”
Monitronics began sifting through every BBB complaint, seeking to resolve
the issue with the customer, one by one.
“The company really started to focus on the customer experience even
more, especially as it related to the BBB complaints,” Roberts said. “So we
started digging in and actually looking at the complaints, all the way down to
a granular level, to really examine how we can grow and get better as a company
and better serve our customers.”
The team discussed every single complaint and listened to the customer
service calls relating to each. They reviewed every rep who had touched that
account to find out exactly what was done—and whether something could
have been done better. The Account Resolution team also worked to create a
better, more direct relationship with Monitronics’ dealers, which enabled the
reps to better understand customer issues in a broader context. This helped to
resolve customer complaints faster and easier.
“That’s how we’ve gradually improved over the months,” Roberts said. “It
didn’t happen in a month or two or three, that’s for sure. So far it’s been about
an 18-month process.”
The company’s BBB rating is now in the A range—but there’s always room
for improvement, Mejia said.
“We have to maintain that,” he said. “And it’s the right thing to do, of course,
by the customer and the company. We want to become an A+. That’s our goal.”
Part of the challenge for dealers can be finding a monitoring partner that acts
like one. It’s a simple concept, but many dealers find themselves in dealer programs
with a monitoring company that treats them like the competition.
Monitronics works to make dealers feel like a true partner. The company
never competes with dealers for customers, backs them up with training and ongoing
support, and provides them with industry-leading customer service. Part
of Mejia’s and Roberts’ job is ensuring the dealers really are part of the company.
“We’ve seen a change from our employees, who now truly consider the
dealers as partners and coworkers,” Roberts said. “We can see the positive
impacts of this through improved communication and even our reduced attrition
This type of cooperation provides seamless support for customers—and
helps keep things simple. Too often, home security customers feel overwhelmed
by the dealer/monitoring company relationship and may not know
who to call. Monitronics customers—and dealers—are covered by a call center
team that understands the value of simplifying this relationship.
High-tech on the Horizon
Monitronics believes in continually investing in new technology to better
support its dealer base. Mejia said there are several new capabilities on the
horizon that will benefit dealers—and customers—even more.
One is workflow-based decisioning software, which guides customer service
agents through a series of questions with each customer, enabling them to
get more detailed information and provide more accurate assistance.
“This will help us in two ways,” Mejia said. “One, we’ll be able to resolve
more customer issues in real-time, over the phone. Two, the series of questions
helps the agent focus in on the problem and gives us more information
to send to the dealer, which lets them better serve the customer.”
New automated technology also simplifies customer service at Monitronics.
Now, customers can confirm or change service appointments using an
automated system from Varolli Corp. Eventually, Mejia said, Monitronics will
be able to push informative text messages out to customers.
“This is going to be a great value-add for the dealers,” he said. “There are a
lot of ways they can use this new technology for their benefit.”
In the near future, Monitronics will also be implementing a new interactive
voice response system for customers. The system, which is in the design
phase, will automatically identify a customer based on his or her speech patterns.
This will enable customers who call Monitronics to verify their information
and pass code and automatically be routed to the correct department.
“This will save customers time and effort and really streamline a lot of
processes,” Mejia said.
The IVR system also will benefit the customer service reps by automating
certain tasks. For example, Monitronics can survey customers about their
alarm systems or reach out to customers who need to update their contact
information. Automating these types of processes creates a smoother, easier
customer experience at every stage.
Monitronics’ shift in focus has had long-lasting impacts on reps’ attitudes, the
relationship between the call center and the dealer base, and more. As Mejia
says, it’s all about empowering each employee to do his or her job well.
“It has that kind of exponential effect,” Mejia said. “People start doing it
themselves because they feel empowered. Reps need to feel empowered to fix
the issue for both the customer and the dealer.”
That sense of empowerment means Monitronics employees take responsibility
for their role in customer service, as well as dealer support. After all,
they’re all in it together.
This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Security Today.