False alarms and false dispatches have been a major concern for security system companies and homeowners for years. False alarm fees can rack up quickly for homeowners if they’re not diligent about learning how to use their home security system. According to the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) 77 percent of false alarms are caused by user error. Security system companies may find this a sigh of relief, this way homeowners can’t blame them for their own blunders. However, using a home security system is not innate knowledge. Now, the SIAC and the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) are teaming up to help homeowners learn how to use their home security systems properly, and are pleading with security system companies to help their customers along the way.
In an article featured on in October SIAC Director Ron Walters stated, “The industry needs to take ownership…We’re the ones who are teaching these end users”. Walters hosted a Webinar in August titled “Reducing False Alarms Through Dealer and Installer Training” in hopes of bringing more attention to the issue. He believes that the SIAC and CSAA efforts have helped curb false alarm rates with “enhanced call verification and the promotion of CP-01 control panels”. He believes the last step is educating homeowners on how to properly use their home security systems.
This starts with the security system companies and their technicians or support staff. With do it yourself security systems becoming ever more popular it’s important for companies to take time to “train” their customers on how to use the home security system they just installed. This is also important for the companies who still usethe in home installation method. Walters stated that there may be equal fault on the part of the security system companies and homeowners, ““We don’t hire technicians for their communications skills, we hire them for their technical skills. So it’s not really their fault, the language issues aren’t Spanish or Creole or Russian. It’s the assumption that everyone has a basic knowledge, but in truth [customers] won’t ask a question because they don’t want to feel stupid.”
The SIAC has begun offering tip sheets and other materials on its website to help home security system dealers and home security system customers. The SIAC also promotes a “test” period when a customer first installs their home security system to allow them to get acclimated, “That’s giving a customer three days to a week to allow them to make mistakes without fear of the police being sent…It also forces you to contact customers [afterward] with something other than an invoice. Thefollow-up is key. We really haven’t accomplished much if we’ve installed an alarm system and people aren’t using it. And that happens more often than we think.”
The moral to this story? Home security systems are not rocket science and customer shouldn’t feel that way, neither should security system providers. If you own a home security system and are unsure how to use it correctly, it’s best to call your company and ask. There is absolutely no shame in asking a question you don’t know the answer to, and it could save you some money in the end. Home security systems are supposed to provide peace of mind, not give you more headaches.
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