Resource Center

The Wholesale Side Of Alarm Monitoring Response Times

Alex Flitton
Aug 24, 2018 8:05:00 AM

Reducing alarm monitoring response times is not as easy as adding a few more operators on each shift. There is a significant monetary investment and infrastructure reorganization that has to be made to shave off time–even a few seconds–from the average response rate in a central station. And, at a certain point, the wholesale monitoring company has to evaluate whether dropping a second or two is worth a million-dollar investment.

The Noticed Difference

After monitoring alarms for more than 40 years, we’ve been able to measure the responses given by subscribers that reflects the service they have noticed. What we have found is their feedback directly correlates with the rate at which their service changes.

For example, in the case of monitoring rates, subscribers do not notice if they had a five-second difference in their response time. However, they almost always notice when there is a 20-second difference. What is interesting to note from this finding, is subscribers will not typically raise any concerns about a 20 second response time if that is what they have always expected. So, it is up to the monitoring center and the associations it participates in to regulate ethical alarm monitoring response times. Because, if a current-day central station is producing response times that average more than 30 seconds, they are not providing a service that matches today’s standards.

Investing In Speed

Alarm monitoring response times are affected by a number of variables. They include factors such as:

  • Alarm panel capabilities
  • Communication type
  • Receiver type
  • Signal load

A significant portion of the total time it takes from the instant the signal is sent to the first action made by an operator is determined by the hardware in the subscriber’s home and the signal communication method, not the monitoring center itself. But, as soon as the signal hits the receiver, the monitoring center assumes all responsibility.

The difference, we have found, between a 7 and a 10 second response time, is a lot of money. It requires a significant increase in operator hours and the implementation of several technologies to shave off a mere three seconds. So, after the money is invested, and the times are faster, the next value indicator is subscriber response.

Do The Final Seconds Matter?

After shaving response times under 10 seconds, subscribers have not provided any feedback indicating that they notice any difference. But, a mere analysis of existing customers leaves one to wonder whether or not it makes a difference in selling security systems to new customers. Perhaps the response times mean less to existing customers that they thought they would when they were shopping.

The reason for asking these questions is not to justify the central stations with poor response times, but to highlight the burden that faster central stations have taken upon themselves and ask serious questions about whether or not customers genuinely value a three second difference in response.

If you have any insight into how customers feel about response times, please leave a comment below.

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