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more on modifying the call list and keeping it updated August 12, 2017

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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more on modifying the call list and keeping it updated
August 12, 2017
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more on modifying the call list and keeping it updated from July 28 2017 article
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Ken, 
      The following is long and probably wordy but not more than some of the articles I've seen here. If you have the time, read it through and perhaps you will find it may be useful to someone out there. I've been doing this for 48 years and I'm thinking maybe I should give up some of the reasons this little guy is still here  
    Here’s how I handle the contact list update issue.
    When I take the contact information from the client, I have them initial the paper and  I give them a copy.
    After entering their information into my computer, I fax the contact information to the central station with the instructions to them to (believe it or not) call me on the telephone ( not an E-mail, text, tweet, instagram or what ever other means we all have today) and acknowledge receipt of the fax with the fax number and their operator ID number. My paper copy goes in a pending file awaiting their confirmation. Once telephone confirmation is received the operator number, time and date are marked on my paper copy and put in the customers folder and filed. If I don’t get a call back, I call them and ask them nicely (the first time) why not. Second call goes to the supervisor. ( not so nicely) They are pretty well trained now. They’re pretty good.
I have a telephone number with an answering machine with a large memory capacity. Central Station has that number on all of my clients contact lists to always be called in the event of an alarm/supervisory call.            When I listen to the alarm signal call, and I hear that my central station cannot get through to a contact on the list because of a disconnected number ( or whatever), I take note and put that on the "to call" list. When time allows, they are called and asked to reconcile the problem contact number.  As a side benefit, when listening to these messages, I can determine if the client is having a particular problem with their system and follow up with them. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it will take me weeks to find the time to review these calls and follow up. But, this is a good analysis tool. With particular alarm reports I can generate follow up service calls or just courtesy calls to inquire is "everything is alright". Most times I will use this conversation to mention some of the new technologies and benefits thereby generating new business beyond a service call.
      It works guys!!!  It really works when you talk to and stay in touch with your account base it generates more business and referrals.You can’t install em collect their money every month and forget em. Because then they forget you.
     To further the call list process, once a year a copy of the customers call list is mailed along with their bill asking them to verify the names and numbers on the list, with a place to sign it and to return with the check..      In my billing program I have a notification and follow up process where I can check off if they’ve returned their copy or not and be notified the next time they come up for billing whether they have returned the form or not. Another form is sent. After two, they are given a call. No information is taken over the phone without a backup paper copy from the customer. 
    There’s a little more to the above process,  but you get the idea.
I know the following isn't so easy for many but along with this follow up process on the contact list, I send a newsletter to all of my accounts quarterly. Sometimes two pages long. I can type as fast as the words come to me so it's easy for me. Two finger, hunt and peck typing won't do. Also, in every billing I send a small two inch by two inch notice on florescent colored paper that says, "TEST YOUR SYSTEM AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH"  No one can ever say they were never told to test their system. 
    You gotta stay in touch with your people, other wise, ..... in the mind of your customers, the central station operators become their alarm company. That nice guy who sold and/or installed the system 5 years ago is just a faint memory. No need for loyalty under those conditions. You have to condition your customers to look forward to one of your newsletters or telephone calls.  
    I don’t know if a company with thousands and thousands of account’s would be able to do all this but with all of the programs, Apps and online services that are available today, I’m sure that a lot of this could be automated. On the other hand service like this is what allows the small guys to compete with the big guys.         The little guys can care about their customers. That is ... they have the "opportunity"  to show that they care. It's within their means to do it.  All you have to do is show your clients that they’re not just a telephone or account number or a non entity trapped in a 5 year monitoring contact to be discarded at the end of the contract. 
    Hope this helps someone.
Gene
48 years and still counting
Reliable Alarm
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Response
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    We all hope you'll be dispensing your good advice for another 30 years, at least.  Keeping the call list updated is essential to your monitoring services.  Yes, it's the subscriber's responsibility to keep the call list updated, and we don't want to change that responsibility.  You need to be careful that you don't engage in conduct that changes that responsibility.  
    Be careful adding yourself to the call list.  If you are getting real time response from the central station you may be expected to do something, real time.  Waiting until the next morning may not be sufficient.  While keeping yourself on the call list and getting real time responses may seem like a great idea to better service your subscribers you need to keep in mind how claims are viewed.
    We generally try and map out the scenario from contract terminology, contract execution, alarm services provided, reasonable expectations especially based on the contract duties, but all of these considerations are before the loss occurs.  When a subscriber suffers a loss the scenario is viewed from the after the fact.       It's no longer "what are the reasonable expectations".  It's more like, "why didn't you do this or that"; "why didn't your alarm services prevent this horrific event".  The more "horrific" the event the more your performance will be dissected and more alternative actions will be suggested and preferred.  The burden actually shifts, at least to non-legal scholars.  Instead of an offensive position that you did all that your contract requires, your burden becomes defensive, justifying why you did what you did, and relying entirely on "that's what the contract" says, may not cut it if the loss is horrific enough, at least to prevent the law suit.      Yes, we will eventually get back to relying on the contract and custom and practice [which the contract should mirror] and prevail in the lawsuit.  But winning the lawsuit isn't quite the same as not getting sued in the first place. 
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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
516 747 6700
www.KirschenbaumEsq.com