One of the struggles that the security industry has always endured has been its inability to show the true value of the service it provides. The professionals working within the industry know what we do but that message has always been difficult to communicate to clients and employers. In this article I would like to take a look at the types of value that a professional security team can offer and how we can better display that value.
Always be Selling
For many security providers this is their Achilles heel when it comes to competing with larger providers. Most smaller providers are owned and managed by security professionals who have risen through the ranks of the industry or have transferred across from policing or military roles. They know the industry and they know what they offer but they don’t sell it well. The larger providers realised this many years ago and employ professional sales people to really drive the sales message home to clients. Of course there are individuals out there in the security industry who are both operationally proficient and excellent sales people but they are few and far between and are generally snapped up by large providers for key roles in this area. An important part of the relationship between the Sales/Operations people is that there is a clear line of communication between the salesperson/Account Manager who makes the promises to the clients the operational team which delivers on those promises. Both roles should compliment each other not compromise each other and for that to succeed there has to be respect, clear communication and tolerance.
On a macro level companies and even in house security managers must constantly be selling what we do and the benefits we bring to the organisation. While there is something to be said for the role of the security team as the quiet professionals who simply get the job done this can in fact be detrimental to your position when budgets and tenders are decided upon. When the questions are asked of what value was supplied by security during the year the quiet professionals are rarely in a position to speak up.
This also applies right down to the individual level of the security operative on a contract or site. They are the ones with the greatest exposure to the client and they should be constantly selling the service they provide not just to the client but to everybody they interact with. Every person you meet is a potential new contract or new employer and you should be selling yourself as a professional on a constant basis.
Types of Value
In general terms there are 2 types of value we can show:
- Quantitative value
- Qualitative value
The business world lives by quantitative value i.e. value we can measure with a metric and put a number on. In certain security sectors we can produce key performance indicators which can provide good quantitative data to clients such as numbers of incidents/accidents, stock loss results etc. However these results show generally show negative security data. The amount of stock lost or accidents which actually occur is not necessarily the data we want to portray for our security team. Of course we can measure performance from reductions in these numbers but we will always get to a stage where security intervention can do no more to reduce the effects of these situations.
How often though do we gather and pass onto the client actual positive data about our performance as a team? We generally dont bother because we only gather data that the client requires and if they don’t require it then we don’t gather it. In practicality though professional security teams do some excellent work in performing checks, customer touch-points and risk prevention. Companies who seek to show how successfully they are performing should embrace data such as this and present it in a way that engages the client such as info graphic.
Does this take a little extra time to do? Of course but it has medium and long term benefits in tracking performance displaying positive re-enforcement of the security teams performance. However there is no sense in gathering data for the sake of gathering it. The data gathered should be used to measure things that are relevant to the client. Gathering data on customer queries so we can paint both a quantitative picture of the number of positive interactions with customers/visitors but also present a view of the most clients customers common queries. This may expose a risk or a loophole that could be rectified by the client to provide a better service.
Gathering data on potential accidents prevented instead of just does which do occur can assist with the client risk assessment process. All of these add quantitative value to the clients operations.
Here is where the true value of the security industry lies. The stuff that’s hard to put a value on. The reassurance given to customers and the amount of crime that doesn’t happen because security is present. This qualitative value that is provided by professional security operatives leads to obvious financial benefits to the client or employers business in increased customers, reduced losses and staff who feel safer at work and are more productive. All of this we know but we can’t put a number on it. The only way we can quantify it is to take it away for a prolonged period and see how detrimental it becomes and that’s hardly a good business model. So how do we as an industry try to claim some well deserved praise for the things we do that don’t generate metrics. One thing I’ve seen work well on a visit to the UK last year was customer survey. You might say that every company does customer surveys but that’s not the type pf survey I’m talking about. This company was doing a customer survey with its clients customers. When we do regular clients surveys as security providers we often get the singular feedback of a single client manager and it can be quite subjective to that manager. How many companies take the time to speak to the clients customers or staff and get their feedback? Providing this feedback to the client regularly can provide key pieces of data to a client from a security perspective that they may not ha e been aware of. It also makes it very difficult to change supplier if the feedback shows that their customers are extremely satisfied with the service provided.
From an individual security operatives perspective what can we do to influence this? I think one of the fundamental points here is better recording of the daily work effort. A saying I’ve always stuck by in the security industry is “you are going to be judged by what you record whether you record it or not”. This means that if you record nothing then this is what you are judged to have completed. What we have a tendency to do is to only record incidents which have had bad outcomes or stuff that we have to record for audit reasons. We often neglect to record the positive stuff. The issues which get resolved. The positive feedback from customers, staff or visitors that we take for granted. We dont do it for two main reasons in my experience. Firstly because we don’t have to do. It’s not mandatory and nobody makes us do it. Secondly we traditionally don’t like to be seen blowing our own trumpet as an industry. Like I said above the time of the quiet professional has a place but we should also market ourselves as the professionals that we are. We will take the flak for the things that go wrong so why shouldn’t we take the credit for a job well done when it happens.