From welcoming employees and guests with a warm and friendly smile to giving directions, the customer service role that security personnel play is infinite.
The security officer sector is growing exponentially, as is the need for our country’s security officers to be comprehensively trained in a wide variety of areas, ranging from life-saving initiatives to ‘white glove’ customer service training. The Freedonia Group, an international business research company, reports that “U.S. demand for private contracted security services is projected to expand 4.2 percent to $66.9 billion” in 2021. We need to ensure that the flourishing physical security workforce is ready and able to take on the daily customer service challenges that they face in divergent sectors across multiple industries, including commercial real estate, hospitality, higher education, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, public transportation, government services, and the chemical and petrochemical industry.
The customer is not only the client but also anyone who crosses the path of a security officer. A “white glove” service-oriented attitude translates to not only satisfying customers but delighting them while mixing security with concierge-like customer service. Whether assisting a visitor or a lost child, the security officer is a brand ambassador tasked to exceed the customer’s needs. For example, if a customer needs something in 10 minutes, deliver it in nine. If customers need information, deliver it to them with options, or if customers ask, “how?” tell them “why” as well as how.
As the CEO of 360 Protective Solutions for one of New York’s largest physical security services, the number one mandate from clients is that our security officers are customer-centric. So, what does this entail?
Appearance, vigilance, communication, and knowledge comprise the values that are the cornerstones of customer service. Security officers need to incorporate these values into how they present themselves.
Appearance does not just mean that a security officer’s uniform is clean and fitted properly, it also includes taking responsibility for the look of the property as a whole. The security officer should project a professional image and ensure that their work area is neat and clean.
As the eyes and ears of management, communication is key and security officers must document all pertinent information and notify superiors in the case of an emergency. Reports must be written clearly and correctly, and officers should communicate to customers what they can do before they tell them what they cannot do.
A security officer’s customer service role is multifaceted and includes acting as a caretaker by assisting everyone who enters the facility with a high level of customer care. Security personnel can take ownership of lobby and visitor management services and technologies to make every visit enjoyable and productive. By acting as a greeter, security professionals build relationships by welcoming staff and tenants by name which offers a personalized service. As important custodians of the building and its tenants, security professionals know who should have access, allowing them to quickly make important security decisions. And as first responders, trained security professionals even save lives by delivering first aid, CPR, and emergency medical services.
“Staying calm and projecting confidence is key to successful customer service. Executing outstanding customer service demands a full understanding of a facility’s systems and procedures as well as emergency training”.
We live in a diverse world, and not all customers are the same or have the same requirements. A security professional’s customer service attitude must be flexible enough to delight every customer. Why is attitude so important? Think back to a time when you had a bad experience. Did you walk away and say “I’m never dealing with that security guy again’’ or did you walk away and say “I’m not dealing with that business again’’? Most likely it is the latter. Most customers can speak to one or two people at an organization and the impression they walk away with isn’t just reflective of the individual, but the entire company.
Whether you are visiting a shopping mall, hospital, commercial building, or university, security personnel are at the forefront of public perception. The interaction that security officers have with shoppers, students, or workers can leave an indelible mark on people’s minds and lasting impact on the brand. When people talk to a security professional, essentially that security professional is the face of the company. When a security officer expresses a positive attitude, people are more naturally responsive. People respond to cheerful people.
The successful execution of a customer-centric culture demands effective leadership support, alignment with client objectives, and the deployment of the best learning technology. We are challenged with ensuring that all our security professionals are fully supported with the optimal learning tools and guidance required to be successful in their current and future roles. Our on-demand training programs are aligned to support client objectives to ensure outstanding customer service, no matter the sector. Engagement in that culture promotes constant development and encourages security officers who may start their career standing post at an entry-level position to work their way up through the company with the support of the organization.