The Problem Customers in the Security Business

How to deal with upset alarm customers so that you both win

Allow me to set the scene. It's a beautiful Friday afternoon. Things have gone so smoothly and uneventful all week, that all you can think about is the wonderful weekend ahead which will begin in just about an hour. At that moment the phone rings.

"Good afternoon ABC Alarm Systems, how may I help you?", you ask.

The deep voice on the other end of the phone immediately begins into a tirade.

"Let me tell you something!," comes the voice. "We just replaced all of our doors and windows and I need someone to come out and re-wire them for alarm contacts TODAY! If you can't do it, I will find someone else who can!"

Stunned, you reply, "Well sir, may I have....," but you're cut off by the person who demands that you acknowledge the fact that she's a "not a sir, I a ma'am!"

"I'm so sorry ma'am; may I have your account number please?"

She then replies: "Do you have any idea who my husband is? We happen to know the owner of your company and don't even think about telling me there will be a charge for the re-wiring!"

At that very moment, line two starts to beep, and you tell her, "Ma'am, I'm going to place you on hold for just a moment."

She says, "Don't even think about it or....."

You press the hold button and answer the other call. This time it's a man with a very heavy accent who starts yelling at you saying, "For what I pay you, for what? Every month I pay you and now you want to charge me for service call? Are you crazy?"

So much for that nice uneventful week! Of course, late in the day on Friday is always when this occurs.

How well does your front line team to deal with these kinds of issues? I know you have experienced this exact situation. So, how well does your team effectively resolve it, and more importantly, what emphasis do you place on helping them to better respond to these kinds of challenges?

First of all, every single front line employee at every single alarm company deals with issues like these. Many of them are very good at what they do, but without some fresh ideas and tangible training, frustration levels elevate, some degree of anger and helplessness ensues, and good employees as well as good customers leave.

According to The Whetstone Edge, in its white paper Elevate the Dialogue: The Pathway to Sustainable Profits, Growth and Customer Equity, most business leaders (80 percent) believe they are doing a terrific job in building customer relationships, while only around 8 percent of customers actually agree! If you cannot service accounts in a reasonably timely manner, or if your service, sales, or installation department fails to follow through on a consistent basis, no matter what your front line employees say to your customers nothing will create a resolution.

As an aside, one of the biggest and most common problems today is the fact that people do not return phone calls. I suggest that you take a hard look at this from the top down in your company. Once you can get a handle on reliable company-wide follow through, you can help your front line teams and management with training on ways to resolve even the toughest customer challenges.

Don't pass the buck - Respond quickly!

Many front line employees try to pass these calls call up the ladder to someone else. In some cases this might be legitimate, but in far too many cases the problem can be resolved by the person taking the call. Consider for a moment empowering your team with the ability to offer options and alternatives as opposed to simply saying, "No, it can't be done." The most effective way to accomplish this is to have an outside professional come in to do a workshop with your front line team or even your entire company, to hear how they respond to the situations. Short of that, here are a few things you can try for yourself which will be of significant benefit to you!

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