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What is a Five Diamond Certified Central Station

Aug 21, 2023 1:01:04 PM

There are over 2,700 monitoring stations in the United States. Fewer than 130 of them achieve the Five Diamond designation, setting them apart by consistently meeting and exceeding the standards of excellence established by The Monitoring Association (TMA). AvantGuard, a Becklar Company, has renewed their Five Diamond designation for 2023-2024, continuing our pledge to exceptional service and to protect your customers lives and property.  

What is a TMA Five Diamond Central Station?

According to The Monitoring Association, "A Five Diamond Central Station is a monitoring company that has demonstrated an exceptionally high degree of responsibility to their local community and their customers through the investment of time, money and commitment to quality operator training." This designation is granted annually to monitoring centers that excel year after year in satisfying all the requirements of the 'five points of excellence.'

What are The Monitoring Association’s Five Commitments of Excellence?

Each Five Diamond central station adheres to Five Commitments of Excellence that are strictly enforced. The commitments are as follows:

  • Commitment to ongoing job-related education and testing by having 100% of its monitoring center operators certified using the TMA online training series on industry best practices. 

Our operator training program and performance expectations are based on our core values. Their training begins with an intense three-week outbound training program conducted in one of our  state-of-the-art training centers. In this training, new operators are given both technical and interpersonal instruction with hands-on practice. During this time, they are taught to master the software, systems, and procedures used by AG to be successful, along with training on effective communication skills, empathy, and delivering a high standard of service on every signal they take.

  • Commitment to random inspections and quality criteria standards by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as FM Approvals, Intertek/ETL and UL. 

An important part of AG’s culture and recipe for success is our commitment to building relationships of trust. Being trustworthy is a big part of that, including going to great lengths to ensure our infrastructure is 100% reliable and our subscribers are protected 24/7. Redundancy is the technological foundation for any trustworthy central station.

AvantGuard leverages fully redundant monitoring centers to ensure complete transfer of monitoring operations from one to another without a hitch. All phone lines and internet traffic automatically failover to another facility if any issues are detected on the primary path.

Within each monitoring center, all critical equipment is configured in high-availability status, meaning the failure of one element of hardware has no impact on the operation of the center due to the twin piece of equipment that continues to function until the failed unit can be brought back online. We regularly test our redundancy and fail-over through planned tests as well as with monthly system patches and updates.

The combination of these specific planned tests and ongoing system maintenance allows us to validate our redundancy in a controlled environment. From these tests we learn whether all failover operates as expected, and if not, it provides a safe environment to examine the unexpected behavior and determine the cause.

  • Commitment to raising the industry standards through TMA membership and participation in its activities. 

AvantGuard participates on the TMA AVS-01 committee, involving discussions with alarm companies, wholesale alarm monitoring service providers, Stages, and community fire and police departments. AG plays a contributing role in helping the agencies that provide such important services. We value and respect their time.

AG has been an active member of TMA for more than a decade. We feel a strong obligation and desire to participate throughout the industry in various ways such as sending representatives to TMA events or having team members participate on TMA committees and boards. We are also members of SIA, MAMA, and many of the state security industry associations.

Additionally, Justin co-chaired the UL827 permanent work from home committee and is now chairing the sub-committee responsible for continued refinement of that standard. Nic Barrus (Senior Manager of Operations) presented at a recent annual TMA conference on lessons learned from remote monitoring. And Suzie Nye (Operations Manager) previously served on the TMA AVS-01 committee helping create the standard for alarm scoring that could revolutionize how alarms are dispatched. Others from our sales and marketing teams have volunteered to serve on TMA’s Marketing and Communications Committee.

  • Commitment to reducing false dispatches.

Becklar, parent company to AG, has invested millions of dollars and thousands of man hour to develop an AI based automated virtual assistant, the Becklar Engage Platform, that utilizes natural language processing to hold conversations by asking questions and interpreting responses. Built upon industry leading machine learning technology, we analyzed thousands of customer-to-operator calls to train the Engage Platform to understand and respond to customer requests quickly and accurately. The platform has now processed well over 2 million live calls with subscribers since its implementation in June 2020. Results have been impressive in reducing wait times, cutting operator response times in half, reducing false alarms, and freeing up operators to handle priority signals.

  • Commitment to the highest levels of customer service.

We believe seeking and implementing customer feedback is an important step to building relationships of trust – another essential part of our core values. Our dealer care and sales teams communicate directly with our dealer partners in various ways resulting in valuable feedback – inbound and out bound phone calls, emails, and texts. This open approach helps us respond quickly and personably to their needs. 

In addition, we offer more formal ways for our dealers to communicate with us. For example, on our dealer portal – our most active page on the website – each dealer is invited to submit their comments, ideas, and suggestions on a feedback form. Plus, we include prompts for feedback through our social media channels and in our monthly newsletter emails.

What is The Monitoring Association?

The Monitoring Association is a non-profit trade association comprised of industry experts and thought leaders who represent professional monitoring companies around the world. They work to uphold the highest performance and reliability standards in cooperation with international law enforcement, fire officials, insurance providers, equipment manufacturers, and government and regulatory agencies.

For the last several decades The Monitoring Association, formerly known as the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) has developed industry standards that are followed by central stations across the nation, each of which are approved by nationally-recognized testing laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), FM Approvals, and more.

Renewing The Five Diamond Certification

As a central station meets these five criteria, they must re-apply and qualify for the Five Diamond designation each year. This makes the certification a rigorous and highly regulated process, ensuring that central stations don’t temporarily adjust their operations to look good, while lowering the bar after receiving the certification.

The commitments that a Five Diamond central station adheres to ensure that technology investments are made, standard training practices are always in place, and regular improvements to daily operations are implemented.

Why You Should Choose a Five Diamond Certified Monitoring Service

Simply stated, a Five Diamond central station has proven its dedication and ability to care for your customers’ lives and property. When it comes to managing emergencies, getting help to subscribers, and relieving the pressure from local dispatch agencies, a central station that has earned the Five Diamond designation has earned an elite rank in the industry.

To learn more about what our Five Diamond central station can do for you, reach out to one of AvantGuard’s monitoring specialists today.

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