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Is free product support the way forward?

by Andy Clutton

When it comes to home security systems, repair and maintenance is something that should be taken very seriously. Unfortunately, says Sven Siddle, Head of ProtectMyProperty.co.uk, some customers are left disgruntled by the high call out charges set by security companies, and their obligation to pay these charges to keep their property secure.

No matter how inventive, prestigious, or impressive a product is, customer service will define the relationship between brand and consumer. For all a product may be great to begin with, if a company doesn’t have a system in place to offer additional support to customers when needed, the customer will lose faith in the brand. Companies who charge for the privilege of customer service run the risk of frustrating their customer, so there is a huge argument for including free maintenance in a standard customer service guarantee, particular for something like property security systems.

The very least that a manufacturer should offer a customer is a working product. If the product isn’t functional for its full estimated life cycle, that is the fault of the manufacturer and not the customer. It makes no sense why the customer should pay to have that product repaired when it was clearly fault when they purchased it. Sadly, many security firms do still charge these fees, though some are starting to waive them in a more customer-focused approach to product support.

Whether it’s a standalone call out charge or an annual fee paid for a product warranty, companies are still making customers pay for essential maintenance on their security system. Companies are now offering free 24-hour alarm support to customers, with no call out charge. This not only relieves the financial burden from the customer, but also lets them know that their brand is so confident about their product that should it fail, they are willing to come out and fix it for free. With the home security sector on the rise, I predict that more companies will follow suit and offer free call outs as the market becomes more accepting and expecting of free maintenance.

Market growth

According to global market research resource ‘Research and Markets’, the development of smart-phone and micro-technology means that the home security market has never been stronger, with more and more people eager to protect their property. As the market becomes more competitive and companies try to set themselves apart from their rivals, there will no doubt be a demand for firms to offer free call outs and product maintenance.

It is a huge selling point for a business to have free, on-demand, customer service staff, so being ahead of the curve and offering this as a free service now could be the difference between a property security service thriving and failing. Of course, this also means these companies will have to find an alternative way of finding the money to pay maintenance and installation staff.

With property security systems now so reliant on computer and wireless internet technology, perhaps an emphasis on remote maintenance could offer a healthy middle ground between free call outs and having to find more money to pay maintenance staff? A customer service team made up of product experts could provide remote digital troubleshooting to customers, particularly as more property security systems become software-based.

As with any product, customers don’t like paying for product support, and property security is no different. Security companies should begin taking steps to minimise the costs of customer service in anticipation of eventually being required to give free call outs. The more proactive firms may even take it upon themselves to begin offering free customer service ahead of their competitors.

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