What is the biggest mistake customers make when buying and installing security systems?
Sometimes you see it coming and want to scream out: “Don’t do that.” We all make mistakes, but it’s hard to sit and watch others as they go down the wrong path. It’s especially difficult when the errant party is a customer, and when their wrong move might somehow end up reflecting badly on you as a technology or security systems provider. Much better to anticipate the problem by expecting the possible mistake before it happens. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Round Table: What is the biggest mistake you see your customers make when it comes to buying or installing security or surveillance systems?
In my experience with various camera manufacturers, perhaps the greatest mistake that customers make is not pushing their integrators to find the best possible solutions to meet their specific needs. All too often, customers are sold products that integrators want them to buy, because that’s what they know, that’s what they carry, or that’s what they make the most money from. Customers should make sure that their integrators are selling products that best match their application, and are cost-effective - not just in the short-term, but over the lifecycle of the product. With technology developing at a rapid pace – especially for IP-based products – it becomes imperative for customers to make sure that their integrators are capable and willing to put in the time and effort to find them the best products.
Security and surveillance systems are integral for business operations, no matter the size or scale of a company. When investing in these systems, however, too many businesses fail to take full advantage of the breadth of services available for maximising tools like remote diagnostic services, for example, which allow customer service teams to regularly and proactively check equipment quality and make repairs remotely, may result in significant cost savings in the long run. Additionally, leveraging a mass notification system for regular, targeted communication across an organisation, rather than for emergency situations alone, may provide extended value to the business. The specific tools that are best suited for your business may vary, but no matter the type of system you have, you do yourself a disservice by not exploring their full potential.
A common planning deficiency occurs when designers choose non-certified barriers or barricades. Certified equipment has been tested and proven to work under extreme conditions, giving planners the confidence they rely on. No area is more critical to the vehicle barrier selection process than testing. Without adequate testing, there is no assurance that the barrier will resist the threat. Testing is normally by an independent testing company or government agency, such as the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and military. Comprehensive reports of test results are issued and are available from the testing agency or manufacturer.
Big mistake: Not accounting for future scalability. With system calculations, you want to prepare not only for now, but make expansion easy for the future. Otherwise you are not taking full advantage of your system’s capabilities. This is especially true for any projects that have government-mandated storage regulations. As time gets increased for that data, having a scalable system allows for easy upgrades rather than totally new systems. Recent known requirements include SB 507, Texas’ special education mandate for extended recording, federal correctional facilities moving to three-year retention, commercial vessels at six months’ retention. Many of these were without notice, and there are more coming. Having a system infrastructure that can handle future needs generally costs less in the long run. All in all, if you visualise what you need today and a year from today, you are more likely to have brought in a solution capable of realising that vision.
The biggest mistake I see customers make in purchasing and installing security systems is failing to adopt or implement open platforms. This is unbelievably common. The power of the open platform in video and access control truly allows customers to select the best-of-class products for their specific application, allow for emerging technologies to be implemented, and allow customers to leverage their buying power to its fullest. By adopting an open platform strategy, customers avoid proprietary systems and becoming locked in to a specific manufacturer or integrator.
The biggest mistake I observe is when some organisations don’t include other departments in the “security” product selection process. Security and surveillance data can now be easily shared among departments in the corporation. Operations can see if planograms have been put in place, if employees are following corporate guidelines, if people are opening and closing their buildings on schedule. Marketing can use customer traffic data and results of ad campaigns, and monitor effectiveness of store layout changes. Another added benefit is that other departments tend to have larger budgets than security, and they can share in the system investment. The traditional security manager will be seen as progressive, and even more effective, if they get other departments involved in a productive discussion with the integrator and equipment suppliers, who can explain the many non-security benefits of a solution.
As our Expert Panel Round Table panellists note, there is no shortage of mistakes being made in today’s security marketplace, from buying the wrong product to not anticipating the need for further scalability to limiting the selection process too narrowly. Whether a customer is listening to bad advice or merely not thinking ahead, it behoves all of us to help them correct the error before it’s too late (if we can!). Customers who make mistakes are seldom happy customers in the end, and we as an industry all share a responsibility to promote customer satisfaction.
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