Listen to the End User--Be a True Solutions Provider

I read with great interest this month (and other months as well of course), the column from PSA Security Network’s CEO and President Bill Bozeman, see page 40, (don’t forget to attend the 2012 PSA-TEC show, it’s open to all integrators, May 14 through 18 in Westminster, Colo.).

Bozeman comes from a physical security background, but he’s spent quite a bit of time educating the industry on leadership, management and business philosophy. In fact, PSA recently started a Leadership Institute for the industry (look for more on this and the convention at This month, he tackles the topic of customer service, and he hit a chord again—he tells my readers not to blab on and on about the latest and greatest widgets and instead, to find out, ask and listen to what the end-user customer wants. And was he right on the money, as usual.

I had the privilege of attending the recent ASIS media tour, a precursor to the ASIS International Conference and Expositions, September 10 through 13 in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. We made a number of visits to some end-user customers—including the Federal Reserve Bank, Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority; National Constitution Center; Wells Fargo Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Comcast Center. So I took the opportunity to ask a couple of these high-profile end user customers what they look for in a systems integrator partner.


Be a solutions provider first

And guess what? They reiterated exactly what Bill Bozeman said in his column—that integrators need to be good listeners and solutions partners—and find out exactly what the customer needs before they even get to the discussion on equipment.

Service is a critical part of what we are looking for in a systems integrator-partner, said Jim Birch, director of Security and Life Safety at the Comcast Center and an employee of Liberty Property Trust, the owner and property manager of the massive new building. “On site service is critical; equipment is equipment and a widget is a widget,” he said. “Who can I call and depend on when the widget doesn’t work?” he asked.

“We also want a service provider who can integrate administrative functions into our system; that was critical,” said Mark Farrell, chief security officer for Comcast Corporation.

At The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the story was similar. “During the week, we can have three to four people here from the integrator company we use,” said James Prout, Security Technology Manager. “We need someone who can help us maintain our equipment properly—highly trained technicians,” he said. “We have a full-time maintenance technician from the company here about 40 hours a week,” he added.

“We look for someone who is a security consultant and can help us from the design phase up,” said Matthew Novacich, assistant director, Security, Parking and Transportation Department for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We want a security consultant and not just an order taker; someone who is critically looking at what we say we want and isn’t afraid to say: ‘that won’t work’.” “It’s so critical with a big building system like this one to have someone who has solutions. We had other providers who were just sales people, order takers. We need a collaborative effort from our systems integration provider,” he said.

And there you have it, from the mouths of ‘babes’ so to speak. What the end user wants and needs and what they count on from you the service provider. An eye for a total solution—one they can live and grow with; the right technology, but the right person to assist them as they work to make their properties safe and secure, for employees and visitors, from top to bottom.