CPI continues on road less traveled

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Monday, July 1, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Like many monitoring companies, CPI Security Systems chalks up some of its recent success to the boon of technological advances, from smartphone apps to home automation capabilities.

But the super-regional’s strong retention rate may also be abetted by its willingness to break with orthodoxy when it comes to customer relations, Greg Hurst, central station manager at CPI, told Security Systems News.

“We don’t necessarily wait for an incident to happen,” he said. “We reach out to the customer and initiate communication. Every 90 days, if an incident hasn’t occurred, we schedule a call with customers to test their system and go over account information.”

In the monitoring space, such an approach is not universally advised. Conventional wisdom recommends keeping customer interaction to a minimum, reaching out less rather than more, since doing the latter only opens up more opportunities for the customer to cancel his or her account.

“Now I’m sure that does happen, but for the most part it keeps us engaged with [our customers],” Hurst says.

It’s hard to argue with results—or the accolades. Attrition rates are low, hovering at around 6 percent. The company has about 110,000 accounts, with a growth rate near 25 percent. In June, CPI was named Central Station of the Year by the Central Station Alarm Association. The CSAA Excellence Award was presented to CPI at the Electronic Security Expo in Nashville, Tenn.

A CSAA member since 2008, CPI, which monitors all its accounts from its own central station, has long coveted the award for central station of the year, though Hurst acknowledged they weren’t always in a position to capture the honor.

“We submitted an application years ago at the first excellence awards, but we really weren’t quite ready at that time,” Hurst said. “We hadn’t entered again since then, but we’ve read articles about the winners since, and realized this was our year to step forward and show our central station. It’s a huge honor, and we couldn’t be more proud.”

Adding to CPI’s haul at ESX was Crystal McLemore, who also won a CSAA Excellence Award for Operator of the Year.