Industry Voices: Its Better to SAVE than Recreate
The 2010 CSAA Central Station of the Year, Doyle Security Systems, describes the success its SAVE team has had retaining subscriber accounts.
Each year Doyle Security Systems updates its strategic plan when about 25 employees meet to review and discuss the issues confronting our industry and company. Central to our planning process are three Key Success Factors (KSF): Keep our Customers, Grow Internally and Stay Financially Strong. Champions are selected for each KSF. Our monitoring station manager, Donna Speranza, is the champion of keeping our customers. We believe this is appropriate because the monitoring center has 24-hour contact with all of our customers.
Besides providing nationally recognized monitoring services, Donna and her employees also have organized and developed another retention program that we call “Stop Attrition Via Empowerment” or SAVE, for short. The SAVE program has a very simple goal to retain any customer who wishes to cancel service due to what we consider are controllable reasons. This could be unhappiness with our service or with the system, pricing, or something as simple as the customer no longer uses the system or can no longer afford the system.
When notified of a pending cancellation of service a SAVE team member, composed entirely of monitoring center employees, takes immediate action. The customer, if not already on the telephone, is contacted by a team member. The team member’s task is first to determine the details of the cancellation or the level of dissatisfaction, if any; and second, while live with the customer, SAVE the account.
Customers who are canceling service because they no longer use the system are reminded they may have fire detection or other life safety services that provide peace of mind 24 hours a day. The SAVE team member is empowered to quote a life safety rate and obtain a renewal of the contract. Where there are questions concerning the performance of the system or other service issues, the SAVE team member can dispatch a service technician and request service from remote programming at no charge to the customer. The team member also can grant no-charge monitoring or issue free movie passes or a restaurant voucher. Compared with the cost of creating new customers, these costs are minimal and a sound investment.
The SAVE program involves many proactive measures, too. One such method that was a direct product of our strategic planning session is the “Call Blitz” program. We ran a report of customers who had not sent a signal into our central station in a year or longer. Once these customers were identified, the SAVE team called each one of them to find out what was (or wasn’t) going on with their alarm systems. The SAVE team caller instructed customers how to test and educated them on the importance of testing. We were able to program testing on the panels for the customer either remotely or through a courtesy service call from one our field technicians, who, while at the subscriber’s premises, performed an inspection. We were able to verify and update emergency contacts, answer any questions and have an overall positive experience â€” reinforcing and instilling the value of our service and hopefully heading off attrition.
The SAVE team also takes data compiled from prior cancellations to help us prevent future losses. For example, upon examination many times a pattern may develop. We may see a large number of cancellations from a specific zip code or geographic area. Or we may see that many accounts from a former acquisition are being lost. In these cases, special attention is deployed to similar accounts, whether in the form of a friendly customer service phone call or a visit from their sales rep. These actions help ward off the summer takeovers and other such similar forces at work that may be targeting accounts.
Beyond the members of our SAVE team, every employee is trained to flag the warning signs of an impending cancellation. For example, when a customer calls to question the length of their contract or wants a copy of their contract there may be something of concern there. When a customer is not paying their bills, they may drop hints in their conversations with collections that raise a red flag. When any employee comes across these warning signs, the customers are immediately referred to the SAVE team.
Each member of the SAVE team is compensated on an incentive basis over and above their regular compensation package.
Has the SAVE program helped with attrition? It most certainly has. The results have been significant. In 2009 the team accounted for the retention of 225 customers. At the time of this writing, they were on pace to retain an additional 320 customers in 2010. These numbers equal a significant amount of RMR that does not have to be recreated. The SAVE program and the SAVE team have become a critical component in Doyle Security Systems’ efforts to grow RMR, and they demonstrate the ability of a local/regional company to retain customers.
Jim Quirin is chief financial officer and senior vice president of Doyle Security Systems Inc., Rochester, N.Y.