Monthly Archives: August 2013

Client Advocates Are Mandatory For A Company’s Success

client advocate According to recent studies, between 68% and 82% of customers will stop using a company’s services because they believe the company doesn’t care or have had a poor customer service experience.  In the security industry, most companies charge their operations departments (OPS) with managing those aspects of the customer relationship.  For OPS, overseeing customer service and experience usually entails  managing client communications and their company’s responsiveness.  Simultaneously, OPS is also tasked with ensuring that security officers are well trained and well matched to their posts.

But the reality of most operations departments is that most of their time is spent filling posts, managing disciplinary issues, getting new officers trained, etc.  Accomplishing those critical tasks usually leaves little time to have meaningful communications with the customer.  So who is truly communicating with the customer?  If there is no one other than OPS responsible for that crucial function, you run the risk of not capitalizing on opportunities to show your customers you care.

So how do you ensure that your customers needs are always met?  With a client advocate of course.

What is a Client Advocate

By definition, a client advocate is one or more people within your organization who is entrusted to study client needs and help your company satisfy those needs in a cost effective and timely manner.  In a security company, ideally, client advocates should not be part of OPS.  In most organizations, the business development representative who acquired the contract would be a logical choice.  They already have a cursory understanding of the client’s business, as well as having established some level of trust.  In other organizations, a member of the executive management team might be the better choice.  Whomever the client advocate is, they will need the support of the management team and a seat at the table for client related discussions.

Client Advocate Goals

If you decide to implement a client advocacy program at your company, here are several goals that you should establish for the client advocate:

  1. Be the voice of the client – When internal discussions are occurring regarding the client, the client advocate should be the voice of the client.  They are responsible for seeing the discussion through the client’s eyes and aggressively protecting the client if necessary. 
  2. Understand the client’s needs and vision – The client advocate should know how the security program affects the client and plays into the client’s overall departmental and organizational goals.
  3. Find the middle ground – The client advocate is responsible for making sure that a balance is struck between the client’s goals and needs and your company’s goals and needs.  If the two conflict, it is the client advocates goal to facilitate a win-win situation for both organizations.
  4. Be dedicated to getting answers – The client advocate figures out what safety/security related questions clients have and gets those questions answered. That means whether the question is about your organization’s services, or some other product or service, they find the answer. Being the “Go-to-Guy” for these types of answers also represents a great value added service

Whether you have one client advocate or dozens, they need to be champions for your customers and be capable of getting results; All while understanding the operational needs of your organization.  Remember, if your client is not talking to you about  challenges or issues, then they are probably talking to your competition about them.

 

By Courtney Sparkman

Your Security Officer Screwed Up…Now What?

security-officer-sleepI remember several times sitting at a table with a member from my operations department talking with an angry client about a mistake one of our security officers had made.  In most of those cases, I also remember the operations manager doing a really poor job of handling the situation.  Below you will find the steps I suggest that you take in talking with a client about a security officer’s mistake.

First let’s be clear, screw-ups can occur at any time. However, in your case a security officer making a mistake can prove to be very costly for your clients.  Particularly since many security company client’s pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for your officers to protect millions of dollars of assets. Because of that, it is only right that you, as the owner or manager, be the person to apologize for these mistakes.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when apologizing to your customers if your security officer has made a mistake:

Relax

The first step you need to take is to relax. Often, security officer managers spend far too much time thinking about how to approach the client with their apology. This delay may cause the problem to be blown out of proportion. Of course, you cannot guess how the client will react, but that doesn’t mean you should take ages to apologize. Don’t delay it until it’s too late to apologize.

Be Humble and Personal

It is very important that you are humble when you apologize. Make sure that you acknowledge that there has in fact been a mistake. Otherwise, it becomes difficult for the client to accept your apology as sincere and heartfelt. At the same time, make the apology personal. It is usually best to apologize in person, or over the phone, since it’s more of a personal interaction as compared to an email.

Provide a Valid Reason For the Security Officer’s Mistake

Make it clear to the client how and why the security officer screwed up. It is convenient to make up any number of excuses and try to sweep the problem under the rug. And more often than not, the client will accept that excuse/apology. However, that is the wrong course of action. The proper way is to provide a true and valid reason.  If a mistake was made, there is probably a perfectly valid and understandable reason for it. If you or the officer simply dropped the ball, be honest because honesty will go a long way in building trusting client relationships.

Don’t Just Blame the Security Officer

When apologizing, it might be easy to just say that you are sorry that the client feels angry about what happened, as if their anger was the problem.  When the real problem is that your officer made a mistake and you have to own it. But in owning it, remember it will be bad for your client relationship if you just try to pass the buck on to your security officers. You cannot assure a client that something like this will not occur again unless you take complete responsibility for it.

Provide a Solution

The best way to diffuse the situation is providing a solution. This can be in the form of a special discount, additional services, retraining, or something that you can offer to the client as a token of apology. Keep in mind that it is better to come up with a solution as soon as possible so that the client doesn’t feel resentful for too long. For example, in cases where the officer failed to submit a timely security officer incident report, propose going over to digital reporting.  Once you have accepted fault, half the problem has been taken care of. The rest you can fix by providing a solution.

Many people are afraid to admit that there is a problem because they are afraid that they will lose the client because of it.  Your clients realize that security officers are people, and people are prone to making mistakes.  But as long as you apologize properly by following the steps above, chances are your client will stick around.

Have you had instances where apologizing was not enough?  In those instances, what did you do?  Please leave your comments below.

 

By Courtney Sparkman

 

Incident Report Software Upgrade

incident-report-software-upgradeAs OfficerReports.com continues to create features, products, and services that fulfill the needs of our customers, we are excited to announce that we have rolled out a GREAT new feature for our Incident Report Software.

Incident Report Software Amendments

Our Incident Report Software is meant to help your security officers record details of an unusual event that occurs at your clients’ facilities.  Our software allows the officer to record these details via a mobile device like a smartphones or tablet.  The Incident Report Software is intended to help the security officers record the exact details of the occurrences while they are fresh on the officer’s mind.  Because the software is accessed via a mobile device, OfficerReports.com also gives the officer the ability to attach images and videos to the report directly from the smart device.

With the new Incident Report Software upgrade, you and your supervisors now have the ability to log on to OfficerReports.com and amend your officer’s incident report.  Because you are only amending the report, the original report stays intact which allows for better auditing of the report.  To add an amendment, just log in to your account and choose Incident Report from your report options.  The spaces for amendments are outlined below in red.

incident-report-software-2

Incident Report Software Data Download

In addition to now being able to amend your incident reports, you can also download the data from your reports.  Once you have downloaded the data to a spreadsheet, you can perform incident analysis on incident types, times, locations, etc.  The option to download the data can be found in the top right hand corner of your search results screen, as seen in the image below.

incident-report-software

 

If you are current client, please Log In to your account to see the changes.  If you are not currently a client, please feel free to Sign Up and try OfficerReports.com FREE for 30 days.  If you have questions, or would like to schedule an online demo of our Security Guard Reporting App, please feel free to contact us at our offices at (888) 511-9811.

The Best Security Company: What Does it Mean?

best-security-companyRecently I’ve seen a few awards given to companies like AlliedBarton and Securitas for their individual accomplishments.  Each of those companies are capable of providing great service, but what does it take to make a security guard company great?  Whether you are a security company, security officer, or security company client you have probably asked yourself “Who is the best security company?”  Although I won’t pretend to have the answer for you, I can help by providing a framework for your evaluation.

When I was a business development executive at a security guard company,  I created a presentation for a prospective client that wanted to know if we were in fact the best security company for their needs.  In order to help them understand who we were, I asked them to evaluate us based on what I believe are the foundations of any good security company: People, Processes, and Technology.

The Best Security Company: People

The best security company’s foundation will be its officers, so finding the best candidates is crucial.  Employing proper techniques in finding officers can prevent bad hires, reduce security officer turnover, and increase customer satisfaction.  There are 4 areas within a security company that you should evaluate when trying to determine the best security company:

  • Officer Recruitment – What methods does the company use to tap into broad employee pools? A diverse applicant pool provides security companies an opportunity to find the best employees.
  • Officer Selection – What attributes does the security company use to screen potential candidates? The company’s requirements should be more than the candidate having a pulse.
  • Officer Hiring – What are the hiring practices for the company?  Is there a formal on-boarding process which explains the company’s standards and expectations? What is training like at the client location?
  • Officer Retention – What benefits does the company offer its officers?  In addition to reasonable pay, are there employee recognition programs? Are there opportunities for employee enrichment and advancement?
  • Management – What qualifications do the executives have?  But more importantly, how skilled are the managers who will be directly responsible for managing the client relationships?

The Best Security Company: Processes

Even with the best people in place, without effective processes to direct the officer’s efforts no company will be successful on a large scale.  So what processes are the most important for a security company?  I’ve outlined several below:

  • Quality Assurance – Does the company perform pre-planning to ensure that all quality requirements are being met?  Do they establish a schedule for management/client meetings? Is there an established schedule for announced and unannounced supervisor site visits?
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – How does the company measure “Success” at the site?  What metrics do they evaluate?
  • Post Orders – Do they prepare formal Post Orders for the site?  Post orders are essential in translating the client’s vision for the security program into daily activities for the security team that help ensure their success.

The Best Security Company: Technology

It is true that most security companies can probably provide relatively good service without implementing the latest in technology.  But if they don’t, their clients will derive less value from their security guard services.  The best security company will use technology to speed up work flow processes and make their client’s jobs easier.  There are three technologies that the best security companies will use:

  • Tour Management – How does the company handle officer tour tracking if the officer is expected to make rounds? There are systems that use GPS, RFID, and QR code technology to track officer tours.  Which one does the company use?
  • Security Guard Reporting – How is the company managing the flow of information from their officers to the client?  Are they still using paper, or have they leveraged mobile technology to streamline the flow of information.
  • Officer Check/Clock-In – Security officers can not provide security if they are not on site.   What technology does the company use to ensure that the officers are on site?

Clients, security officers, and security guard company managers all have different reasons for trying to determine who is the best security company.  I hope this article will provide a framework to help evaluate that question.

Are there aspects of this list that you disagree with? Are there things on the list that I missed?  Please leave your thoughts and comments below.

 

By Courtney Sparkman

 

 

What Is Your Security Company’s Communication Strategy?

security company push vs pullRecently I was involved in a conversation regarding how a security company should communicate with its clients.  The conversation boiled down to the difference between push vs pull strategies for communication.  Ok, so what do I mean by a “push vs pull” strategy?  A great way to think about this is using broadcast media as an example.  With broadcast media whatever is pushed out across the airwaves is what you have to watch.  Or in the business world, email is a classic example of a push communication strategy.  With email, the sender chooses who to push the email to leaving the recipient no choice in whether or not they receive it.  In both examples the sender is firmly in control.

But in the era of digital technology, that model is changing.  In the digital era, pull communication strategies put the recipient in control of the information by allowing them to choose what information that they receive.  A great example of a pull information strategy is the popular social media network Facebook.  On Facebook, you have the choice to dip in and out of your news feed without the risk of missing anything that is vitally important.  The information waits for you to retrieve (pull) it when you are ready.

Should Your Security Company Be Pushing or Pulling

So how does push vs pull communication apply to your security guard company? There are 3 areas where push vs pull strategies are relevant.  The first applies to your security guard reporting technology (If your security company isn’t using daily activity report software read my article on that topic).  The second applies to your marketing and advertising.  The third applies to your company’s internal communications.

Security Company Reporting

First, for those who use digital reporting,  how do your customers really want to receive that information?  It has long been my position that security company customers don’t want to be emailed every report that your security officers generate.   Your clients inboxes are filled daily by dozens, if not hundreds of emails.   Why add to that barrage?  Instead, they should be able to access (pull) that information when and where they desire.

Marketing and Advertising

In the case of marketing and advertising, many businesses are leaning toward a pull marketing strategy in the form of inbound marketing.  Inbound marketing is about creating and sharing valuable information with your prospects and customers via a website.  By creating content that is specifically designed to appeal to your prospects, it keeps them coming back for more and increases your brand’s recognition.  Inbound marketing removes many of the obstacles associated with successful outbound marketing.  With inbound marketing the customers are drawn to you naturally.  With a pull approach, customers who are looking for a security company will find you through either social media or a search engine results page.

Internal Communication

In most companies email is directed from an individual to one or more people by who the sender includes on the “To” and “Cc” lines.  In a large security company this form of communication limits access to your company’s pool of institutional knowledge.  Using a pull strategy in combination with an Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) like Yammer, connects the right people to a project at the right time.  For example, if you are working on a project to increase client retention, trading emails between you and one or two people limits the project to three people.  But by using an ESN you open the conversation to your larger organization with the possibility of gaining deeper insights.

So which strategy is right for you? The answer is that a mix of both is best.  Too much push leads to information overload and a general apathy toward the information, while too little will lead to lack of accountability.  Both push and pull strategies have a role to play in you security company’s communication strategy.

Have you implemented pull communication strategies within your security company? If so, in what ways?  We would love to hear about them.

 

 By Courtney Sparkman

What Is Value Added For Security Guard Company Clients?

value added

As a security guard company you are probably plagued by low billing rates and decreasing margins, much of which can be attributed to the commoditization of security guard services.   Futurist Daniel Burrus discusses decommoditizing products and services through a value added strategy  in an article entitled “How to Decommoditize Any Product or Service.”  Specifically, his strategy is to wrap additional services or products around a company’s current product or service offerings.  In the article he gives several great examples of companies doing exactly that.

What Is Value Added

So exactly what is “Value Added” and how does it apply to your security guard company?  According to Investopedia.com, value added is the enhancement a company gives a homogenous service that gives it a greater sense of value.  In the security guard industry, it has come to be defined as providing your client with a service that has high value to them, but is of low cost to you.  A value added service should be seen by your customer as an additional advantage that gives them something they need or are searching for.  Ultimately, value added services make your company seem more like a partner than a service provider to your clients.  Keep in mind that service providers can be easily substituted for, but partners on the other hand are more difficult to replace.  Below you will find several examples of value added services.

Example 1

When I was actively selling security guard service for my family’s company, I always sought to make myself  an expert on crime in a prospect’s neighborhood.  As part of that objective I included crime statistics for their area in my proposals.  I used those stats to educate the prospect and open a mutually beneficial dialogue.

For a value added service for your company, try developing a quarterly crime analysis using current crime stats from your local police department.  In Chicago I used the Chicago Police Department’s CLEAR MAP.  If your local police department does not allow access to crime information via the web, try finding local crime information on websites like MyLocalCrime.com and the FBI Uniform Crime Report.  After developing this analysis, schedule some time to walk your client through it and discuss any necessary changes to your security procedures.

  • Cost: $0
  • Time: 45 Minutes

Example 2

Another example of a low or no cost value add is customization of current supplies to fit the needs of your clients.  One of our clients in St. Louis approached us and requested that we incorporate a feature into our security guard reporting app that they thought would be beneficial to their customers.  The feature revolved around tracking temperatures of certain assets at their client’s facility.  Because we were able to design the feature to be universally useful to all our clients, we made the decision to absorb the development cost for this new feature.  As a result, our client was able to introduce a feature to their customer that was highly useful and at no cost to them.  As a value added service, try working with your current staff and vendors to customize your  services to fit the needs of your clients.  Start by looking at uniforms, current reporting, and training.

  • Cost: $0
  • Time: 20 Minutes

Example 3

One of the primary rules of sales is to listen more than you talk with prospective clients.  But just as important, once that prospect becomes a client you must keep listening.  By continuing to listen to your client, you can discover unmet needs that they may have.  For example, a company that I worked for previously introduced one of its customers to one of their strategic partners based on that customer’s needs.  Because that strategic partner was such a good fit for the customer’s needs, our company became a rock star in that customer’s eyes.

As a value add become the “Go-To-Guy” for meeting your customer’s safety or security needs.  For example, is workplace violence a topic that your customers are addressing?  If so, consider learning more about the services of companies like Threat Assessment Group, Inc that help companies, schools, and facilities manage those challenges.  If you find that there is a good fit, make the introduction. Or is your client wrestling with emergency preparedness or business continuity? If they are, it might be a great opportunity to introduce them to emergency preparedness consultants like Global Resiliency Consulting.  In either case if there is not a good fit, find one.  Whatever the customer’s needs are, look to be a partner in filling them.

  • Cost: $0
  • Time: TBD

Remember, if you are using or going to use value added services to differentiate your service you must continually invest in developing, building, and innovating on those services.  Although your competitors may be capable of copying one particular value added service, it will be nearly impossible for them to copy them all.

As a security guard company how are you finding low cost value adds for your services?  Do you feel that value adds help differentiate your services?  Please leave your comments below.

If you would like to see how OfficerReports.com can help you differentiate your service, please signup for a FREE 30-day Trial.

 

value-added

 

By Courtney Sparkman