When it comes to smart-home security, the industry is engaged in a fierce first-to-market battle.
Each feature, each new technology is designed to maximize connectivity and differentiate brands in the eyes of customers. However, when it comes to standing out from the pack, technology alone isn’t enough.
Don’t get me wrong — products are always going to be important. We have a responsibility to give our customers the technology they’ll need as the smart home progresses in the era of the Internet of Things. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that your company is more than products. The way you treat your customers will define you.
Unfortunately, the home security market has a bad reputation for not prioritizing the customer. It is, admittedly, a reputation based on some reality. Historically, home security companies were known for aggressive sales tactics — unsolicited calls, complicated contracts. Add the volume of “new and improved” technology that is not always designed with customer needs in mind, and you have an industry that can be perceived as being “out-of-sync” with its customers.
The time has come for a customer-focused renaissance in the home security market. While “customer experience” may seem to be one of the buzzwords of the moment, I believe that it’s a term that never should have gone out of vogue in the first place. Positive customer experience should characterize every moment of interaction between a consumer and your company.
In my mind, every moment of interaction between a customer and their home security provider is a critical moment to connect. A call with a billing question … a false alarm cancellation … a moment of panic when an alarm is triggered and they don’t know what is happening: these are all moments that matter. And they are all opportunities to forge a stronger connection and demonstrate our industry’s expertise, compassion and competence.
Think about how you want to be treated yourself when you contact a company. If you personally enjoy jumping through a list of phone menu hoops before being told a person isn’t available for another 27 minutes, that’s fine (and, honestly, a little unusual). If you’re more interested in helping yourself solve a problem, great. If you prefer to speak with a live person and take care of everything in that one call, you’re in the majority. But think about your experiences and expectations when thinking about your company’s customer service, and use those to guide changes.
Direct, transparent and responsive communication is necessary in every industry. But it’s especially important in home security when the things that consumers hold most dear are in question. Customers want to receive quick answers from helpful people and then move on with their day — often after sharing that experience across social media channels.
Social media and online review sites have supplemented traditional word-of-mouth. An article, a user review or a complaint can be powerful. Most people will admit to making a purchasing decision influenced by something they read online.
While people are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If people are sharing honest feedback, companies should engage —in real time, if possible — and demonstrate their commitment to transparency and open communication. It does take a commitment of resources to be able to do that, but it speaks volumes about the importance the company places on its customers and their satisfaction.
The peace of mind home security companies can provide their customers is priceless, especially in those moments that matter most — those times of customer crisis. We must focus on the customer. We must focus on “customer success,” as guru Shep Hyken noted, to make sure customers have success with our products and remain satisfied.
Engagement, transparency and open communication demonstrate your company is putting the customer first. That renaissance of the customer experience is important in home security, but it spells success no matter the industry.
Jeff Gardner is president/CEO of Moni Smart Security and has more than 25 years of expertise in operations management, strategic development, finance, accounting and financial reporting. His Twitter handle is @jgard126.