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10.15.20 – SSI

Navigating the 3G sunset is no easy task. Learn about the strategy that has one integrator on the verge of completing upgrades for its entire 3G customer base.

New iOS update available! When people see a new update is out for their phone, usually their first reaction is one of interest, not angst. For many, it’s the “oooh!” factor — the expectation of improved features and better experience — but also the reassurance of continued support. Getting ourselves, our business and our customers to view the LTE upgrade in a similar light can pay dividends but isn’t easy. To do it successfully, you need a plan. 

Jay Rutili, president of Forest Security in River Grove, Ill., took the hard and fast approach. The integrator quickly developed a strategy that already has it on the verge of completing upgrades for their entire 3G customer base.

“This does not represent new business and it is hard to get thousands of radios upgraded. Our strategy was to get in, get it done, as soon as possible so we were done with it,” explains Rutili. “Better to get it done ASAP, make the customer happy and not give them a reason to go shopping. It’s better to have the customer say, ‘I don’t worry about the upgrade, Forest came, got it done and no worry for me to keep my system running’.“ Related:The Benefits of Whole Home Control & How to Profit Off Them

Even if you’ve been slow out of the gates, developing a course of action for LTE upgrades now will set you up for short term success as well as frame your strategy for the future. For the greatest chance at success, you should establish a plan that is optimized to reduce support costs and customer attrition while also increasing upgrade and upsell opportunities. 

1. Understand Your Customers 

Mapping out which accounts you should target first for upgrades is a good first step toward success. Segment out your base using factors like customer engagement with the system, your engagement with the customer and ease of upgrade. Trying to fit every customer into a one-size-fits-all solution could spur unnecessary attrition, so take the time to understand your base and create a targeted plan for each segment. 

Unlike the 2G sunset, the LTE upgrade has significantly more tools, resources and programs for you to take advantage of during this process. First and foremost is data, which can be your best friend in helping you identify the best path forward. Your hardware and service partners likely also have tools in place that can help you segment and identify opportunities. Take advantage of any resources that will help you prioritize. 

2. Focus on Value 

The LTE upgrade is an opportunity to elevate the experience for your customers on legacy platforms. Introducing customers to the latest technology brings new revenue-generating feature sets with functionality and device support to meet the customer’s evolving needs. From a back-office perspective, the latest platforms can provide enhanced troubleshooting tools to reduce your support costs and expand your ability to resolve issues without rolling a truck. Related:How COVID-19 Has Changed Selling and Installing Security

When asked about the challenges of upgrading customers, Rutili admits “certainly COVID-19” is one of them and that “it has been necessary to stress the precautions that have been dictated by our health professionals.” However, the ongoing pandemic has also given rise to the creation of robust toolsets that allow you to deliver high quality service even if you can’t be there in person. 

Additionally, if customers are already on your preferred system configuration, develop offers that expand their perception of what their system can deliver. Show how a modern security system provides peace of mind and increased convenience with video, locks or a garage integration. You may find some hardware and interactive providers offering promotions and discounts — some as much as 50% or more — specifically to help you achieve these goals. 

3. Experiment a Little 

Optimizing time and efficiency throughout our operations is a goal many of us share. With the LTE upgrade, you can get creative and try out new ways to execute effectively. At Forest Security, Rutili says, “We assigned an inside and outside tech team, sent out advance messages, and then called every customer individually. Our customers have a great degree of trust in Forest, so therefore a phone call to each and every customer assigning time slots was made, and we completed those area by area.” 

You can be similarly assertive when there are openings in a technician’s schedule. Identify customers that need an upgrade near a technician’s location and make attempts to perform the upgrades between scheduled service appointments. Implement a “While You Are There” (WYAT) policy so if a technician is performing routine service, they take care of the upgrade simultaneously. Integrators have been successful with both approaches by leveraging tools such as Alarm.com’s “3G Customers Nearby” to help them identify eligible customers near appointment locations. 

A few other ideas to consider: 

  • Can you incentivize your technicians to pick up some of the customers that are along their route home? 
  • Can you offer promotions to customers that work with your operations and are flexible with their schedules?  
  • Can you incentivize your technicians to upsell a customer while they are on site? 
  • Can you offer a do-it-together remote experience where a customer performs the upgrade with a technician or support rep on the line? 

Think outside the box and try out new things. They may end up becoming staples of your operations for the future.  

4. Drive Customer Demand 

Creativity, segmentation, and engagement with customers all need to be fundamental aspects of your LTE upgrade strategy. Dedicated correspondence with your priority customers, the ones most engaged with their system, can spur proactive upgrades and upsells. 

Your platform partners may even have resources like dedicated outreach campaigns to engage your base and initiate touchpoints with minimal effort. To re-energize customers where your engagement may be lacking, explore targeted promotional offers for connected devices or the latest hardware. 

Your retention team can provide valuable insight into what works best for different segments. The closer the sunset date gets, the more creative you’ll need to be in order to avoid upgrade opportunities becoming costly service appointments instead. It doesn’t mean you should suppress your creativity in the interim, though. Related:Stop Stalling: Now Is the Time to Game Plan for the 3G Sunset

If a customer hasn’t used up the service visit baked into their cost, take advantage by offering a “whole home test, inspection and consultation with complimentary upgrade” and incentivize your technicians to go for the upsell. Offering neighborhood discounts or promotions may be help you upgrade whole areas at a time like Forest Security did to help reduce labor costs.

If you were thinking about creating a “Lifetime Customer” perks program, now may be the most opportune time to test that idea with customers who proactively opt in for an upgrade. 

“Remember, if you do not provide a service to the customer that they can appreciate as a value, they will really not see the value in this LTE upgrade,” Rutili advises. “Telling customers their system will stop working would be perceived as harsh selling tactics, even though it will stop eventually. Avoid that negative at all costs.”  

Each phase of the upgrade and each segment of customers allows your marketing, sales, retention, field and support teams to join forces and develop great ideas. If you’re generating interest for the LTE upgrade within your business, customer interest will likely follow. Just like with their iOS updates, give them every reason to skip the “Remind Me Later” button and press hard on “Update Now.”

Adam Brandfass is product management director at Alarm.com.