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What Happens When Consumer Sentiment Goes Viral

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November 22, 2013
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What Happens When Consumer Sentiment Goes Viral

People often ask me how we came up with the business model for FrontPoint. Personally, I think it’s a great narrative, and some day could make a compelling case study for an MBA program: “Grizzled alarm industry veteran [that’s me!] teams up with two tech-savvy and financially astute young Wall Streeters from Goldman Sachs to found FrontPoint Security, the nation’s premiere DIY alarm company.” What’s not to love in that story line?

What Makes FrontPoint Different

There are in fact numerous aspects to our business model that set us apart, and I’ve covered pretty much all of them in previous blogs. Over the years we have perfected an offering that provides true peace of mind by combining 100% cellular monitoring, interactive alarm and home automation technologies, systems that are easily set up by the end-user, attractive pricing for equipment and services, and a world-class customer experience. The combination of these and other factors is what makes FrontPoint unique – and more highly esteemed than our competitors. And there is no better way to judge our success than by our outstanding positive reviews and our uniformly good reputation. Just look on Angie’s List, Yelp, or other review sites, and you’ll see what I mean.

Customer Satisfaction Takes Work

Today I’d like to focus on one element in particular: our world-class customer experience. For us, it starts with fully transparent marketing, moves through our highly consultative sales process, and includes ongoing service and support that are the envy of the alarm industry. We have spent years (and millions of dollars) investing in the quality of every customer interaction, and it shows. The fact is, we have earned all those great reviews the hard way.

The Power of the Consumer’s Voice

We knew when we started FrontPoint that building a first-class reputation would be a key to our success, and that has been the case. Today, as back in 2007, it’s easy to look around us and see other successes, as well as some notable failures. We envisioned the manner in which burgeoning mobile communication media would guarantee that good news will travel fast, but bad news may travel even faster – and farther.

Going Viral - Fast

Let’s take one stellar example from the airline industry – since the incident occurred in 2008, it may be one you are familiar with. Yup, that’s right: a catchy tune with the title, United Breaks Guitars. This is a remarkable story of how one person used available technology to make a powerful statement. Here is the broad outline of the story (and you can look here for more details).

"United Breaks Guitars" is a protest song by Canadian musician Dave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell. It chronicles a real-life experience of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines in 2008, and the subsequent reaction from the airline. The song became an immediate YouTube and iTunes hit upon its release in July 2009 and a public relations embarrassment for the airline.

The YouTube video was posted on July 6, 2009. It amassed 150,000 views within one day, prompting United to contact Carroll saying it hoped to right the wrong. The video garnered over half a million hits by July 9,5 million by mid-August 2009, 10 million by February 2011, and 13.3 million by September 2013.

How United Reacted

Media reported the story of the song's instant success and the public relations humiliation for United Airlines. Attempting to put a positive gloss on the incident and the song, a company spokesman called it "excellent". Rob Bradford, United's managing director of customer solutions, telephoned Carroll to apologize for the foul-up and to ask if the carrier could use the video internally for training. United mentioned it hoped to learn from the incident, and to change its customer service policy as a result of the incident.

The Lesson Learned

Amazing! It’s tough to imagine anything getting 5 million hits in little over a month, but welcome to the age of instant communication. No wonder United was so embarrassed. And it wasn’t just one song: Dave Carroll posted three songs about the incident, and then wrote a book. Now he is in high demand on the national speaking circuit, talking about the Customer Experience.

What Customers Say Matters

Yes, we were convinced back in 2007 that alarm shoppers would increasingly use the Internet to research companies like FrontPoint - for complaints, as well as raves. And it happens that today there are even some sites that focus specifically on bad news: they too are great resources for comparative shopping. I’ve posted before on the growth and importance of these alarm company review sites. Today you can check online reviews for just about any alarm company - even the ones who knock on your door, offering a deal you cannot refuse. Just remember: you really want to do your homework before you sign up with any service company – especially home security.

When you search for “FrontPoint reviews” you’ll find the overwhelmingly great news: we work extra hard on behalf of our customers to make sure it stays that way. As the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked home alarm company in the US, FrontPoint is committed to your safety and security – and that means honest and transparent sales and advertising, no hidden fees, the best technology at the best price, and world-class service. Now that’s peace of mind.

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