Who is Servicing Your Clients?
- By Charlie Howell
- Mar 01, 2015
A phrase I continually use is the “lifecycle management of security
systems.” Every system, whether integrated or not, will need
maintenance at some point throughout its life. It could be a door
contact getting damaged, a magnet falling off, or a legitimate unit
gone bad, but something will require a technician to work on that system you
just installed. So, who will it be?
Most integrators I know answer that with “Well, me, of course. I installed it
and I will void the warranty if anybody else touches it.” To those integrators,
I would say you would be surprised at how many end users don’t return a call
to the company that just installed the system to provide maintenance on it,
and here is why.
One of my end user clients called me about a month ago, which was
about two months after the project closeout, and asked who they should call
to repair a door contact on a door that they had changed out. It is a common
drill in a building where a door gets damaged and is changed out and the
door contact and magnet on the door are an afterthought when the alarm
doesn’t set that evening.
I asked my client why they didn’t call the integrator
that had just installed it. The answer was “It wasn’t defective
and it didn’t break. We broke it and now need to
reinstall it.” The funniest thing was that there was no
association in the client’s mind that they could pay the
integrator for a modification, addition or changes in
the system once the install was complete but the warranty
period was still active.
I attribute the end result in my example to the lack
of lifecycle management support most integrators give
their end user clients. As projects close out, I continually
notice a general lack of concern for being
the resource for that end user client even
after the install.
What is the path to correct this? I answer
that question with a question: how is
your service department handling Lifecycle
Management for your completed
I can say as an industry, the service
of clients has been the least dealt with
item in the end user management. As
integrators, there should be four divisions
of every integrator no matter
how big or small. There should be a
sales, engineering, installation, and
service division for every integrator.
These roles may be shared among
single positions but they have to be
In my experience in representing
end user clients that deal with integrators, it is common that clients start off
liking their integrator at the beginning of the installation process. It is less
common that they are as happy with the integrator at the end of the installation
process whether the problems are valid or not. It is even less common
that the integrator goes back after the installation is complete to check on the
client’s use of the system and their satisfaction. The reason integrators I have
asked give is that the installers move on to the next project once the installation
is complete; the service technicians are out fixing broken systems and the
sales team are searching for new potential clients.
So, who is going to take the time to go and check up on a client, remind
them that they have a resource for their security needs, and assure the end
user client that they have a partner in the lifecycle of their security system?
It may sound like a small, even unimportant thing, but it’s huge to the end
user client. From the end user perspective it’s annoying when a sales person
continually nags about projects or invitations to events or ballgames but when
there is a legitimate move, add or change to be made then they are left searching
for the service technician. At that moment is when they are about to be
serviced by somebody else.
I assure you, an end user that needs a move, add, change, or repair to their
system(s) will have it done by somebody and if it was your install but you are
not relevant in their mind they are not going to come back to you for the next
thing. The end user requirements are a simple tri-factor calculation: know
the system, pay attention to me and don’t break it. Obviously, cost is always at
the table but this tri-factor is the basis for whether or not you get called back.
As an integrator there are a couple of things that will help ensure that you
are the resource that gets called for this work. First, be relevant and known to
the end user. If you are the installer of the system then your commissioning
and training process should be completed by your lifecycle management/service
team. It will be their task to start building a trust circle and relationship
of relevancy at this stage.
Make sure they know how to get in touch with your firm whether it’s a
warranty service call, an add, move or change, or a simple question about the
operation of the system(s).
Second, go back after the system is complete and the project close out documentation
is submitted to check on the operation of the system and answer
any questions that may have cropped up.
Third, schedule a pre-warranty expiration visit to repair anything that
may be covered under warranty but more importantly to let them know that
warranty will be expiring and they need to decide if they want multiple year
maintenance contract to continue this service.
Fourth, show them that you know their system. Do a system health check
and show it to them. This system health check should either be done by a report
from the software, a checklist of their products, or a list of their installed
components with a listing of any errors/failures/repairs that have been made.
These four steps establish the basis of the lifecycle management effort that
would not only ensure continued business from end user clients but also is
something not being currently done well by most integrators. So, in the end
who is servicing your clients’ needs?
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Security Today.