Homeowners shopping for home security are looking for peace of mind: that's a fact. And that's why most home alarm systems are professionally monitored, and even explains why most of the systems sold today feature safer cellular monitoring for greater reliability. Plus, the technology is evolving, to include features such as:
- Interactive services for remote control and connectivity
- Advanced smart-home video that lets you check in on your home
- Home automation functions, allowing you to control lights, locks, and even thermostats
Home alarm systems are indeed getting better – and with very few exceptions, you can trust that your system will work when you need it.
Service Has Suffered
But one aspect of our industry that has suffered in the rush to create new subscribers (and sell the latest features) is service. The actual nuts and bolts of a mutually beneficial day-to-day relationship with the alarm company that is protecting your home and family have been neglected by some providers along the way – in some cases, almost forgotten all together.
Ask Your Friends
Here's a test: ask your friends and neighbors who have a monitored home security system how they feel about their alarm company as a service provider. Chances are, the responses will run from faintly positive, to acceptable, all the way to barely disguised contempt. As someone who has been in the alarm industry since 1989, I know this to be the case. And there are roughly 13,000 alarm companies in the US for customers to feel lukewarm about!
Basic Business Sense
The truth is that even some of the largest alarm companies don't make good service a priority. And forget "world-clas" service – that is almost unheard of. Not only does this trend give the alarm industry a bad name: it doesn't make sense from a business perspective. That's because it's a lot more expensive to create a new customer than it is to retain one you already have. I know – this concept should be obvious, but many of these companies (and you might recognize some of the names, if I mentioned them) have forgotten about it.
Good Service Means the Whole Relationship
Having an alarm system in your home is almost like having insurance: you know it makes perfect sense, and you feel better when it's in place, but you hope you don't need it. Your concern may be intrusion, or fire, or an environmental issue (carbon monoxide, frozen pipes, and the like) – or perhaps all three. And to maintain that level of security, you want a company that you can trust, and one that demonstrates their concern for the relationship whenever you call – not just when the system goes off. Here are some examples:
- When you call in to make a change on your account, or for service, how easy is that? Does someone answer the phone promptly, and can they help you in a timely and competent manner? Do they sound like they care?
- Does your alarm company have a customer "portal" on their app or web site that allows you to take care of some basic issues online, so you don't even have to call in?
- If your system does need service, what's that process like? Can the company perform remote diagnostics to troubleshoot (and perhaps fix) a problem? And if a replacement part is needed, how long does that take?
It's a Relationship
The best way to think about your arrangement with your alarm company is like a relationship – and it should be a good one, that works for both of you. Not all relationships are healthy, and when it's a bad one, that's when homeowners look for a replacement. That helps explain why so many alarm customers change companies, moving from one provider to another over time, until they find one who will respect them and earn their trust. It shouldn't be so hard – but it can be.
Shop for Service You Can Trust
One solution to the problem is to find the right company to begin with. Yes, price is important (for equipment and for monthly services). And yes, you want the latest interactive features, so you can feel both protected and connected. But it's also important to shop by reputation – and that means reading all the reviews you can find about what an alarm company's service is really like. That's easy these days, with so many review sites to choose from: start with Angie's List, Yelp, Epinions, and even the Better Business Bureau. There's plenty of great information to help you make your decision. Now it's up to you!