Comcast has been learning the hard way – for some time now, that providing reliable home security and home automation services is not so easy. And it’s not that what we do in this industry is so complex: my old boss compared the day-to-day activities of alarm companies to a ground game in football, or “five yards and a cloud of dust.” In other words, it’s all about consistent and reliable execution. But while protecting homes and families may not be rocket science, homeowners do expect reliable service and technology that works, along with company representatives that understand what they are selling and servicing.
Believe it or not, there are roughly 13,000 alarm companies in the US. Only a handful of us are truly nationwide service providers: in fact, most alarm companies are what you might call “Mom and Pop” operations, with less than 20 employees. But I can state with confidence that for the great majority of us who spend all day, every day providing peace of mind, the issues are pretty straightforward: make the system work, and if it stops working, then fix it right away. That minimum level of service involves a number of elements that it’s tempting to take for granted – which appears to be where most of the “new entrants” to the industry, like Comcast, are stumbling. A few of these fundamentals are:
- Provide reliable equipment that really works.
- Employ technicians that can install and service the equipment, with the rigt training, and the right inventory on the truck. Of course, companies like FrontPoint with “easy setup” wireless systems do hnot face this challenge. We can remotely diagnose an issue and send a replacement part, overnight if needed.
- Employ phone representatives that understand the urgency of a home security problem for the homeowner, and who are well trained on the equipment.
- Institute a service response window that is not only short, but also convenient for the customer. This is not just about cable channels for entertainment – it’s how we let people sleep well at night.
The list above begs the question of whether some of the cable and telco companies new to home security have what it takes to compete. And for dedicated, long-time security industry professionals, it’s a bit of déjà vu all over again – watching some of the same players enter (and possibly leave) our sector of the economy with a horde of unhappy customers in their wake. What these companies don’t seem to grasp is that peace of mind really is a different proposition: just because you have an Internet “pipe” into a consumer’s home, that doesn’t mean homeowners are ready and willing to sign up for your latest “bundled” offering… especially when you are not doing a terribly good job with your current (less critical) services. Frankly, the stakes are much higher when you are protecting people’s homes and families.
Does it Actually Work?
The issue is not just poor service: after all, the biggest “traditional” name in this business (ADT) is not exactly known for providing stellar service to its customers, and you can see it in their above average customer cancellation rates. In fact, ADT loses about one out of every six customers every year. But the cable and telco providers have a higher hill to climb, starting with technology that simply does not work, or is not well supported. Here’s a great example – a comment posted this past December on a previous entry of the FrontPoint blog.
“Having a serious problem with XFinity home security. Called on last day to cancel, no one will answer the phone. When I did get through to the cancellation department, I was told I had to pay an additional $47 to be cancelled. This is after paying $200 on my bill, and also being told the fees would be waived when I first ordered system. I asked up be transferred back to the billing department: no answer. Right now I have a $500 bill, of which almost $300 should not be charged. Someone is trying to help me right now, but they are off until Sunday. I was on the phone for a little over 3 hours.”
Cellular is Safer – and More Reliable
As a reminder, most of these new entrants (including Comcast) use the Internet for transmitting a majority of their signals from the home, which is why they are referred to as “IP-enabled.” And as regular readers of this blog know, the best home security systems rely on a safer and more robust cellular connection – not just for alarm monitoring, but for the advanced interactive services as well.
As one a few truly nationwide “real” alarm companies that is focused on protecting your home and family, FrontPoint is happy to see the increased consumer awareness of interactive monitoring services and home automation that new entrants like Comcast bring to the general public – especially since are exactly the advanced features that FrontPoint has offered since our inception in 2007. We also know that the more people research their options, the more they are choosing a proven provider like FrontPoint. As the leader in wireless home security, we specialize in the best protection: that’s why we’re the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. FrontPoint systems are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And, unlike the case with some of our wannabe competitors, you’ll be thrilled with our service.