SSN poll: Most alarm companies 'all in' on customer training

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—The fight against false alarms begins at home, according to the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, which cites end-user error for 77 percent of incidents. But are alarm companies doing enough to “take ownership” of the problem, in the words of SIAC Director Ron Walters, by providing consumers with the training they need?

Participants in this month’s SSN News Poll answered that question with a resounding “yes,” with 86 percent saying their technicians spend “as long as it takes” to make sure customers understand how to use their alarm systems. Echoing that sentiment, 68 percent of respondents said customers who receive training have fewer system problems.

“Training the user is key to false alarm reduction,” one reader wrote. “Make it simple, take your time. Let the user arm/disarm while the tech is standing by. Ask if they have questions. Train all users.”

“This is a no-brainer,” said another participant in the unscientific poll, which drew more than 50 responses. “Customers need to be trained. It may take more time initially, but good and thorough training will help to avoid unnecessary service calls that are caused by people not knowing how to use their systems.”

“Connecting with a person [on site] is vital before you try to share how to use the alarm system,” another respondent said. “Having them show you how they will use it is a good test [to determine] if you have communicated the info they need. Having them silence the alarm also gives them confidence of use. So many times [customers] tell me the man who installed the system was in a hurry to leave.”

Despite the best intentions of alarm companies, there will always be customers who have difficulty learning how to use their systems or who use them improperly. That can lead to frustration on both ends.

“We do loads of training at each installation … and even with [that], users will consistently make mistakes,” a reader said. “We even have training videos on our YouTube channel and users still make mistakes. Training won’t reduce false alarms, in our opinion.”

Other poll respondents cited the need for ongoing instruction and refresher training to make sure that alarm users—residential and commercial—aren’t triggering false alarms.

“The most common issue we find is that customers do not regularly test their systems,” a reader wrote. “Many only arm their systems when they leave for vacation, and that is when most false alarms occur. The other issue for commercial or corporate security is the training of new employees, e.g. panic buttons.”

“Residentially, a customer might not experience an alarm event for many years after the initial installation and they have forgotten the steps they need to take,” another reader said. “Commercially, we find that staffing changes are frequently the cause of alarm events. A new staff member might be given an arming code but not a passcode, or they may have been given a key but not an arming code. I agree that as an industry we need to continue to work toward reducing the number of false alarm events, [but] subscribers also need to share in the responsibility of remaining current in the use of their systems.”

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