There is no doubt about it, importance rests in communication
- By Lindsay Lougée
- Jul 01, 2016
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
For dealers, there are three distinct types of communication to focus on,
and all of them require different applications.
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
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.