By Tom Sykes.
Armidale and Kiama Downs in NSW. South Morang and Brunswick in Victoria. Deloraine and Kingston Beach in Tasmania. They have got more in common than simply being Australian towns and suburbs.
With the NBN fibre rollout in these suburbs complete, copper lines were scheduled to be disconnected at the end of May, affecting phone and ADSL internet services.
As the NBN continues to be rolled out and more disconnections take place, more than one million back to base monitored alarms in Australian homes and businesses will require updates to their current security alarm systems to be able to operate across the NBN.
Despite the NBN’s widespread publicity, there is a surprising lack of awareness and plenty of confusion within households and businesses about the NBN cutover, if figures commissioned by internet service provider, iiNet are to be believed.
The figures show around two thirds of Australians think switching from copper to NBN is optional, while 62 per cent believe their copper landline will remain connected even if they do not switch to the NBN.1
The ramifications for the security industry are clear. As the switch off progresses, we can expect to be inundated with phone calls from confused end users who will find their back to base security alarms will stop working or homes and businesses reporting operating issues with their alarm systems.
It is critical that consumers are properly informed about the switchover process and the new network and commercial environment so that disruptions to consumers can be minimised and they can make informed decisions about NBN installations and their future communications needs.
The key to making customer migration as smooth and as seamless as possible is customer communication. The different parties involved in an alarm installation – alarm installers, alarm companies, NBN Co, service providers and the alarm manufacturer – must work together in a coordinated way to minimise the risk of operating problems for the million plus homes and businesses across Australia.
This effort must be led by the security industry because it is the alarm installers and alarm companies who have a direct relationship with the end user and know where the alarm is physically installed, not NBN Co or the telephone and internet service providers – they usually do not even know the equipment exists.
Security companies should view the switchover as an opportunity and seize that opportunity to educate, engage and reach out to their customers.
This is a customer engagement opportunity too good to miss and there is no shortage of resources to help you communicate with the end user about what needs to be done for a smooth and successful migration.
Hills has developed an NBN Ready training program to help security companies communicate with end users as early as possible to ensure customers do not reach copper disconnection without their service being migrated.
Here are some tips to help you create your own NBN readiness plan:
Understand device compatibility
- Determine an optimum migration path based on known technical facts. Will you migrate using PSTN or other technology such as wireless? Some segments such as commercial customers may be moved directly to cellular/IP.
- Reassure your end users that their alarm will work. Proactively communicate and do not wait for them to ask.
Know who is affected, and when.
- NBN Co can offer you access to the switchover Disconnection Address Database. Email email@example.com to request access to the disconnection address database.
- This database lists all addresses which are scheduled for disconnection as well as the planned date.
- You can compare this to your own database of customers to identify which ones you need to contact.
- Send them a targeted letter or call them to start the conversation about moving to the NBN.
- Simple advice is better – do not overload end users with specifics in the first contact; just ask them to contact you so you can provide tailored advice.
Train your staff
- Most companies have several existing inbound and outbound channels who deal with end users. Make sure those who deal with end users have consistent information.
- Have your team ready to answer commonly asked questions, such as:
- Will my device work on the NBN?
- If it will not, do you have a model that does?
- What service providers over the NBN will best support my device?
Create a communications strategy and communicate with your end users
- You can do simple things like updating your website with a clear position on NBN compatibility. Make sure you publish a clear call to action for your customers – e.g. “when the NBN is coming to your area, give us a call to discuss moving your alarm onto the NBN”.
- NBN Co has put together a package of assets, able to be adapted to your business to help keep your customers informed about what needs to be done to migrate their security alarm to a phone service provided by the NBN. Fact sheets on disconnection and migration, template letters for end users and frequently asked questions for call centre staff, are some of the tools available to assist customer communications.
Tom Sykes is the GM of Product Management at Hills where his team are responsible for new product developments spanning security, CCTV, access control and smart home and health technology domains. Tom’s focus is bringing to market next generation security products that take full advantage of technology convergence. Prior to Hills, Tom led the solution sales team at NBN Co and developed a close relationship with the security industry through the migration of traditional security services to the NBN. Tom has held previous roles in Product Development, Sales and Engineering at NEC, Alcatel-Lucent and Telstra.He holds a Bachelor of Engineering from RMIT University.