Insider Intelligence: The Customer Comes First

May 18, 2012
Customer service beats technology banter

How important is security technology in today's world? Very important of course, but is it all about the technology? Do you start with, finish with, focus on and obsess with the latest and greatest compression algorithms, megapixel buzz and PSIM hoopla when you approach a customer about a sale?

Do you know security technology so well you can integrate, postulate and ‘poopalate’( a scientific term I made up) the most technically sophisticated security solution on the planet? If so, congratulations if you an official chief technology officer (CTO) or an electronics security engineer. If you are not a CTO who exactly are you? What is the value you bring to the customer? These are questions you need to ask in order to position yourself and your solutions properly to the customer or the prospect.

Ask the user what they want to accomplish

How many security end users are really interested in the technical minutia I often hear security professionals obsess over while forgetting the most important part of the equation: the end user, the customer, the individual or corporation whose security concerns you were hired to mitigate. Find out first what their challenges, concerns and goals are and then, think about what will help them mitigate that risk or result in a proactive solution.

All too often many of us focus on technical minutia and miss the most important boat on the dock, which is the customer. If that ship sails from the dock, and you are not on board, you may lose the sale or the ability to sell to this potential user.

I cannot count the times when a nice enough security representative comes to my office and blabs on about why his technology is vastly superior to the competition’s without ever asking me what it was I needed and wanted.

Sadly, I believe this is the norm. We are too caught up in technology, and not what the customer wants and needs for their particular situation.

It seems so obvious, yet many security professionals lean on technology acumen while ignoring the more important needs and wants of the customer. Is it that the security professional is only comfortable digesting the technical part of our business and not comfortable solving the often more complicated business, logistical and personal wants and needs of an end user? That they don’t want to really get inside to the customer to find the proper solution?

Our value is in understanding the customer

It is critical that we all understand that our value as security professionals is not just about how much we know about the technology. Our value comes from developing the solution for the customer; the technology is only but one part of the solution. Granted, it’s an important part, but from what I have seen over many years is that many security professionals see technology as the entire solution.

So if you see a bit of yourself in this article why not start by listening to and evaluating the needs of the customer or the consultant before you bury them with your technical prowess. Remember, resolving and preventing security problems are much more than bits and bytes.

If your comfort zone is technology and you are not a CTO, I suggest you take some business classes, communication seminars or project management classes all available at PSA-TEC, ISC, ASIS, BICSI or any other education-focused organization.

Broaden your horizons. Set a new goal of 70 percent technical training and 30 percent education focused on developing new skills that will make you more valuable to your customer. Start today and see what happens tomorrow when you visit the customer with this newfound expertise. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised—and they will be too!