Two Way Communication

Two-Way Communication

There is no doubt about it, importance rests in communication

In today’s high-tech world, communication and its intended meaning is often lost or convoluted as it passes through different channels and mediums. This can be especially true for the communication of alarm dealers, as these companies exist within a technology-driven industry and are constantly adapting to new standards. To avoid misunderstandings and foster best business practices, dealers, their customers and their monitoring companies must emphasize clear and consistent communication. For dealers, there are three distinct types of communication to focus on, and all of them require different applications.

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Good internal communication can improve employee morale, stop false information from spreading, and keep all personnel focused on reaching the same goals. There are several ways to improve and maintain good communication within a company.

Town hall meetings. Weekly or monthly internal meetings can help business owners and executives control the conversation and keep spirits high.

Internal newsletters and blogs. These communications can reinforce a positive culture through spotlighting employee successes, hard work and milestones. They allow for more frequent dissemination of information right to employees’ inboxes, taking on a more informal tone and helping to keep the company connected.

Intranet. Update employees in real time on changes in processes and other news within the organization. This can serve as a gentle reminder on best practices, how to interact with customers, and employee expectations.

Happy employees pass their attitudes onto their customers. By engaging in strong corporate and internal communication strategies, companies can ensure that positive attitudes, professionalism and poise are used when dealing with customers and prospects. Jeff Gardner, CEO of Monitronics, often stresses the importance of top-down communication, with a focus on adult-to-adult interactions that foster respect and a proactive cadence that looks to the future.

COMMUNICATING WITH THE CUSTOMER

Communication is the only real way to understand the issues that customers face, what their needs are, and how to retain their business. Customer care is an integral part of any security service or products-based business, and can keep the doors open when it comes to reducing attrition.

When communicating with unhappy customers, even the smallest details can make a difference in whether a contract is saved. This is especially important because satisfied customers renew their contracts, while frustrated customers break them. As such, employees must implement best practices to keep customers happy. The majority of this is rooted in good communication tactics, understanding the point of views of consumers and taking care of their needs. There are several factors in the communication process that must be tended to throughout the customer lifecycle.

Customer research. Identify consumer behaviors, patterns, attributes and demographics. This will help companies discern what their clients need and how to fill that void. For instance, a new dad will have fears about leaving his family alone during the day. Speak on that point and let him know you understand his concerns.

Communicate how your products and system will resolve the issues causing his fears. If he feels a connection and empathy, he will be more likely to believe you really want to and can help.

According to the marketing firm Thoma Thoma, 33 percent of alarm installation prospects are ages 25-34, the largest single age group; 33 percent had a household income of $25,000 to $49,999; and 55 percent were female. Of these, 74 percent prefer professional installation over a DIY system, leaving dealers with a large, specific group to target.

Welcome the customer. A proper welcome campaign will make the customer confident in the company and answer questions the customer may have. Monitronics puts an emphasis on welcoming customers to the company and explaining its processes. This includes sharing contact information, company background, and statistics about the quality of monitoring the customer will receive. For dealer-model programs this is especially important, as it helps explain to the customer how and why their account will now be serviced through a partnering company.

“We are extremely focused on making our customers comfortable and confident in our services,” said Jay Autrey, vice president of Customer Care at Monitronics. “We advocate that all companies implement thorough welcome campaigns that communicate everything the customer needs to know. Just as important, representatives must continue to follow up throughout the duration of those contracts to ensure the communication and service do not waver.”

Identify at-risk customers: Once a customer is on-boarded, it is vital that the communication does not stop there. Make sure that representatives are consistently reaching out to solve any issues and ensure the customer is happy. Service and billing communications should be concise, and regular newsletters should be emailed to clients with valuable content on new products, security tips and industry standards. Throughout this process, identify at-risk customers and try to solve their issues through thorough and positive communication tactics.

DEALER TO MONITOR COMMUNICATION

Dealer-model monitoring programs continue to be a popular choice among security dealers, as they provide quick funding, sales training, marketing support and a variety of other benefits. To ensure all benefits are being completely used, proper communication channels must be in place between the monitoring company and their dealer representatives. Following are a number of ways that dealers and monitoring companies can optimize their relationships.

Implement a dedicated council. Earlier this year, Monitronics re-introduced its Dealer Council as a way to keep its vast dealer network informed. The council met to share information, solicit feedback and work to improve processes. Participants took part from a number of departments, including IT, finance, marketing and customer care. These types of programs allow companies to share goals and ideas, coming together for a mutually beneficial purpose. In addition, it emphasizes the value of listening, not just talking.

“We are only as good as our dealers think we are, and that’s why this dealer ‘think-tank’ is a vital part of our program,” said Bruce Mungiguerra, senior vice president of operations at Monitronics. “Their feedback is an important part of our process, as it helps us re-define goals and keeps us on the same page.”

Back-end websites. Back-end websites allow for protected information to be shared immediately with all parties, with a controlled log-in for proper dissemination. This medium can help users share company and news bulletins, product changes, service information and technical issues all parties should be aware of. Often, these communications are followed with an email or phone call when appropriate, especially when the information is urgent or sensitive in nature.

Blog and newsletter. Information-sharing blogs and newsletters combine industry updates with internal information. This delivers open and targeted information to dealers, which is vital in maintaining and growing the relationship. Companies can further progress by letting both parties have a say in the program through soliciting feedback and encouraging comments and questions. The more two-way communication there is, the stronger the connection becomes. Communication is the cornerstone of business success, but the different

parties, mediums and messages can make it seem daunting and overwhelming. Take it one channel at a time, keeping messages clean, concise and purposeful. Above all, focus on positive outlooks that reinforce a customer- centric culture and employee appreciation. These small steps will take you far.

This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Security Today.

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