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Central stations play a key role in vetting and making new technologies ready for dealers as the market moves. They play an even greater role in keeping dealers’ customers happy.

I am moving, and the new location isn’t covered by all the major cable players. As a result, I’ve called not one, or two, or three, but five companies to try and set up service. The timing was perfect for the cover story I was writing this month on central stations because it reminded me of how important that voice on the phone really is. Every call started out with the dreaded automated system and every call went on hold while I waited for a live person. While not every experience was completely negative, they all left a lot to be desired.

When I started interviewing central stations and dealers throughout the industry for this month’s cover article, “Center of the Universe,” starting on page 44, I asked them all the same question: “Are central stations the center of the universe?”

I received almost universal responses that a) credited central stations with a huge role that was indeed at the heart of the industry but also b) positioned the customer as the center of the universe, and focused on the difference central stations make in retaining customers every time they are that warm, helpful, calming voice on the other end of the line.

As Earl Lanier, manager, En-Touch Alarm Systems Inc., Houston, explained it to me, while central stations aren’t the center of the universe, they are “the culmination of all the efforts that go into providing a service that is structured, timely, and reliable and focused on our customers, the center of our universe.”

When interviewing David Wurmbrand, owner, Total Protection, Anaheim, Calif., and this month’s cover dealer, for the article, we discussed the fact that central stations will have more interaction with customers following the initial installation than dealers generally will. As such, they play a critical role in customer satisfaction.

Wurmbrand has had American Two-Way (ATW), headquartered in North Hollywood, Calif., monitoring his accounts for 18 years.

“My central station is handling my entire customer base, and I need them to treat my customers the same way that I do — and they have. I’ve never lost a customer because of my central station,” Wurmbrand says.

In addition to great customer service, central stations are tasked with providing the newest services and technologies before customers demand them, enabling dealers to say “Yes,” when customers ask “Can you do that for me?”

Wurmbrand is photographed in ATW’s newest central station built to provide cloud-free — yes, you read that right — mobile monitoring. Read more about it in “Evolving Solutions: Mobile Monitoring” on page 46. Wurmbrand is excited to have a new service ready for him to offer to his customers right as demand for it begins.

In “Everyday Heroes,” which profiles the winners of the SDM-sponsored CSAA Central Station Excellence Awards starting on page 63, John Shocknesse, director of Customer Care, CPI Security, Charlotte, N.C., the 2013 CSAA Central Station of the Year, shares that one of the latest developments was beginning the standard practice of unlocking doors in cases of medical and fire emergencies for customers with remote locks. “We see this as a great benefit to the customer as we can help the authorities gain access quickly without damaging entryways,” he says.

Customer service is one of the biggest priorities for Central Station Manager of the Year, Ted Stoler, Vector Security’s East Central Station manager and assistant vice president, Vector Security, Warrendale, Pa.

“I think [the biggest challenge of the job] is delivering the customer service in a way that exceeds their expectations. [Especially as] individual wants and needs differ from person to person,” Stoler told Sabrina Gasulla, the feature’s author. However uniquely challenging, he also said that being a part of a central station that can at all times project positive energy and customer service is tremendously rewarding.

 It can be personally rewarding — and financially rewarding — by winning and retaining business. After all, following my personal call marathon, the cable company that made me at ease and convinced me they wanted my business, won my business. Thanks, Justin, for being the warm voice on the other end of the line.