I hear all the time about competition coming into the industry, but it’s always been like that, correct? There was the time when the telephone companies wanted to come into the business, and some of them have although now in the automation and energy management fields. There are the cable providers who also want to get their foot in the door—well they already have it wedged in, and they will continue to make tracks in the industry. I have also heard that some companies will buy established firms in the industry to get a stronghold. Sure it’s easy to get into the industry, but it’s harder to maintain a following and really keep your customers, which is what savvy alarm dealers and systems integrators have learned to master.
Last month we celebrated our first annual SD&I Fast50 rankings, and I want to thank everyone who attended our ceremony, which was standing room only, at ISC West. Each of the companies on our ranking are to be commended for growing and for establishing best practices for growth. You can see who these companies are and the ranking at: www.securityinfowatch.com/10656733. To the manufacturers out there, these are the companies you want as your partners, because they have learned what it takes to grow and they will continue to ply their trade in this manner. And that growth isn’t always technology-based—it’s based on people and grounded on learning how to approach customers and build relationships.
Let superior service be your customer connection
Which brings me back to my original thoughts about competition: Many of the companies in the SD&I Fast50 and others in the integration community as well, know how to handle competition. And the way they do that is with superior customer service. How many times have you contacted some of the large telecommunications companies and/or your cable provider and never even been able to reach a live person? I’m not trying to bash them; there are some companies better than others, but you definitely have an advantage and you know it and should use this more to build your business.
Systems integrators can excel by having a philosophy that centers around the customer and making them come first and foremost. Have staff who answer the phone with a cheery voice and ask how they can help if the person they want is not available. Make it a point to check in with customers every so often, especially when they don’t have a problem. Check with them on their smoke detectors and offer carbon monoxide detection. See if their family situation has changed. Do they have a latchkey child at home who needs supervision via the smartphone or other connectivity? Do they have an elderly parent who needs a personal emergency response system, or a similarly connected remote video device? Stay in touch and this customer will touch you back at every opportunity. Go beyond this—help the community or the family that has had a tragedy, or a military family who has suffered similarly.
When there is a problem, respond immediately, and that means the president or the CEO of the company can get in the car and drive out to the customer—won’t they be pleasantly surprised? Find out exactly what happened and whether commercial or residential, and do a walk through with the client. Say you are sorry—and help rectify the situation. Make them a customer for life.
A personal touch is what everyone wants today. We have grown tired of only communicating with email and text messages. We want to look someone in the eye and offer our apologies or let them know that we will fix the problem. If you do all this, you won’t have to worry one bit about competition.