Balancing Service and Safety
What does customer service mean in the security industry? Is it simply the act of meeting customer needs by providing professional, helpful and high quality service? In the hospitality or retail industry, this is a well-established standard. However, in the security industry, outstanding customer service reaches far beyond this surface definition and its significance in protection services can go unrecognized.
Professional customer service is the foundation upon which we should build everything in the private security sector. Approaching every scenario and every interaction with a positive, solutions oriented mindset is more than an invaluable attribute in attaining customer service excellence, it is the framework for all aspects of private security effectiveness.
In many organizations, the security officer is the face of the company. The security officer is the first and lasting impression for every person that passes through a gate or walks through the door because the security officer makes initial contact. The influence and effect of this relationship cannot be overstated. The irony is that all too often, the security officer feels disenfranchised and does not recognize the power and impact he or she has in the culture of the company. But, make no mistake, the security officer is the goodwill ambassador of the organization.
Case in point: Covered 6 provided physical security officers, rocket transport personnel, executive protection agents and investigation support agents at a well-known private aerospace company in Southern California. In the perception of many Covered 6 staff members, the armed undercover agents were elite positions, and as a result, these were coveted positions for everyone except for Mark, the crossing guard.
After several employees were struck by vehicles, Covered 6 implemented a traffic control team for the client company. Because of extreme weather conditions and physical demands including walking more than ten miles daily, the traffic control position was a less than desirable job. For Mark, however, the crossing guard position was his time to shine because of the initiative, pride and positive attitude he demonstrated each day. Despite risk of personal and great bodily harm to himself, there were no employee injuries or traffic accidents during Mark’s tenure. Closed Circuit Television caught Mark’s heroics in action on a number of occasions as he literally saved lives. One day, a truck veered off the street and slammed into a pole where Mark stood just seconds before. In addition to ensuring the safety and security of persons he helped each day, Mark caught trespassers and identified suspicious individuals before they were able to infiltrate the facility. As a former pro boxer, Mark was a strong presence on the frontline, and as a result, the entire program was recognized as vital to the success of the organization. The program expanded to include more shifts. The “undesirable” outshined the elite.
What caught the attention of the company president – even more than his lifesaving actions – was Mark’s helpful and optimistic demeanor. While waiting to turn into the executive lot one day, the company president noticed Mark’s infectious, energetic smile as he greeted employees crossing the street. She noted the effect his attitude had on those around him, as their faces lit up, as they “fist-bumped” and “high-fived” in the crosswalk. She noted this ritual day after day, as Mark greeted thousands of people with the same contagious attitude.
Over time, most of the security positions converted to an internal program. During this transition, the president insisted that the only recruit that must be retained on staff was Mark. She related that Mark had become part of the company culture and represented an energetic customer service attitude that set the tone for the entire organization. While this company goes about the business of building dreams and big ideas such as space exploration and planetary colonization, it is particularly powerful to know that the president noticed the “undesirable” position. She noticed Mark. By his shear fortitude and positive mindset, he became vital to their overall success.
Of all the decorated veterans, experienced former law enforcement officers and seasoned security professionals that worked for the company, it was Mark that had the greatest impact. He had no previous security experience and the least desirable position in the organization, but he made a concerted effort to have the greatest positive interaction on every person he encountered each day. Mark illustrates the lesson for all of us that an optimistic, can-do attitude is the greatest single asset in helping any organization successfully meet its security mission.
Remember to balance service and safety.