*Originally published on SecuritySales.com
Taking advantage of your monitoring center’s automation system and staying in constant communication with your reps and customers will make weathering hurricane season a breeze.
It is that time of year again … summertime! While summer is the time for grilling and vacations, unfortunately its warm temperatures usually brings with it some bad weather. That’s right, hurricane season is upon us.
This month’s column will focus mostly on those companies that live near the more than 95,000 miles of coastline in our country, which in 2014 comprised more than 40% of the U.S. population according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
However, while not everyone is situated in a location that is directly affected by coastal storms, emergency circumstances created by storms can impact anyone at any time of year.
The good news is that your monitoring center should have many tools to help make this potentially stressful time easier for you and your team. Taking advantage of your monitoring center’s automation system and staying in constant communication with your reps and customers will make weathering hurricane season a breeze.
First, and foremost (which is something you see as a recurring theme in many of these columns), it’s important to understand the procedures your monitoring center has in place today, and the changes that you should expect if and when a hurricane approaches.
For instance, it’s been my experience that monitoring centers typically have the ability to auto-log low priority signals like troubles, power failures or low batteries so operators can focus on higher priority signals like burglary, fire, medical and panic alarms.
In addition to asking your monitoring center to send you a copy of their emergency monitoring procedures and understanding the options you have, make sure to also ask about the reports you can receive. Be sure to review them in the morning to see if any procedural adjustments need to be made or if any customers need immediate service before and after the storm.
You can also use your monitoring center’s web portal to check the history of your customer’s accounts to better understand their needs. If your CRM system integrates directly into your monitoring stations automation platform, leverage that resource to expedite notifications and help your team stay on top of service calls.
Once you understand the emergency procedures, ask your monitoring center if they can establish a dedicated emergency voicemail box for your company that provides instructions and emergency tips for your customers when they call in for service. Automatic text, chat and email notification features may also help to communicate instructions, signals and dispatch information to your customers.
These types of automatic notification procedures can be implemented immediately by the monitoring center and can significantly improve communications between your customer and the monitoring station.
Next, make sure your emergency crew assigned to provide assistance to your customers during and after the storm is able to log into your monitoring center’s mobile app to check signals, place accounts on test and view account history. It’s a good idea to check your supplies now to ensure you keep an adequate inventory to expedite service calls after the storm.
The time to start putting safety information and updates in your invoices or newsletters is now. Post information and/or video tutorials on your website or social media to show customers how they can prepare for an emergency situation while also giving them information on what your company is doing to help ensure their safety.
These types of preventative measures can help lessen the burden for your emergency crew and help your customers understand and prepare in case an emergency situation should occur.
Finally, be sure to communicate all changes in staffing or procedures to your monitoring center so your needs are met appropriately and let them know what to do with service requests in case you or your team cannot be reached.
Make sure to also subscribe to the automatic announcements and notices from your monitoring center prior to and during the storm. Once the storm has passed, review activity reports and information online to help determine the clients that need assistance.
You shouldn’t have to endure summer’s inclement weather alone; your monitoring center can be an efficient partner that helps prioritize and automate signaling, relay information competently, and serves you and your customers with professionalism and calm proficiency, especially during a hectic weather event. Take advantage of all the tools that your professional monitoring center can provide to you and your team. The time for action is well before a storm. Start preparing today.