Similar to a horse with blinders on, the manager saw the issue in black and white and really did not offer any information or options with alternatives to resolve the issue in a way the customer could make sense of. The manager became frustrated at all the yelling, and simply told the customer there was nothing else he could do for him. The customer hung up on him and immediately called back to speak with the president. In the end, the customer was irate; the service manager was frustrated, and the president of the company had to stop what he was doing, take the call and try to resolve the issue himself.
If a good training program had been in place at this company, this problem would have been resolved at the supervisor's level. Having received numerous calls like this, the president of this company finally decided to call me to come in and work with his team.
What did I teach this team? I taught them that this problem was extremely common in the industry. The problem in the mind of the customer was that he pays for monitoring every single month and has never had any repair service. He doesn't understand what he pays for every month, and he became livid at getting a big fat bill for the repair. This is a clear lack of information issue. Let this customer know that you understand his or her feelings, and appreciate his position. Let him know that you're sure this can be resolved and then carefully explain how the monitoring fee works. Convey to this caller that you have a staff of professional dispatchers, on duty, 24 hours a day watching over their system in case they have a situation or emergency. If something occurs, your staff can quickly dispatch the police or fire department. The operators will also call the list of contacts to inform them of the situation. Politely let him know that this is what he pays for. Inform him that he did not contract for equipment maintenance, but if he would like a quote for a maintenance agreement, you will be happy to provide him with one and possibly even include this service call so he won't have to pay for it. On occasion, you may agree to waive the trip charge, or discount a service call as a gesture of good faith if this is their first time calling in for a service repair. If you happen to see that this customer's contract is up for renewal, you might even exchange the service call for a new contract! I believe in getting something for giving something. By fine-tuning your ability to inform your customer with accurate information, and do it in a way that you are perceived as being fair and reasonable, this particular problem would have never gone past the service supervisor.
This is only one example of a wide variety of the challenges that occur every day at every alarm company. Giving your team an arsenal of proven tools not only empowers them to take more ownership of resolving problems, but it will also garner a significantly higher degree of loyalty and teamwork.
Just being part of a team -- no matter whether you're on the top of the heap or the bottom -- helps create loyalty. Thriving teams help create long-term success. In the old days, the rule was to rank your players and go with the A's. Today, the rule should be to hire passionate people. Every employee wants a sense of purpose. The employees who deal most with your customers must be given the tools and the means they need to nurture the relationship. In reality, there are many more B's and C's than there are A's. My own personal feeling is that employees who are passionate about their job, and who are serious about doing the best they can day in and day out are far more valuable an asset than are many A players. Give these people training to continuously improve and get better at the job they do, and you have found the recipe for loyalty.
Your customers will immediately recognize the difference between a brick wall that stands between them and what they want, and an employee who offers them accurate information in way that provides the customer with options and alternatives so they perceive some degree of control over the outcome in a fair and reasonable manner. Train your team and empower them with the ability to respond. In most cases, how you say something is much more important than what you say! No matter how good you are, anyone can and should continue to improve. There are many ways to raise the bar toward garnering more employee and customer loyalty, and it all focuses around experience and training.
Some key ideas to remember are: