Let’s face it, no business could ever exist without one thing-customers. These days, every business is like a ship and all members on board need to contribute in order to keep it going in the right direction. Of course, customer service in Security Teams is an important part of this. Not only do the sales and customer service team need to be personable, but the security team also has a role to play.
Often, people mistakenly believe that the security team only exists to protect the company’s assets. In reality, they represent the company on a daily basis and provide smiles that could lead to some customers coming back time and time again. In this guide, we want to look deeper at the role of security for the positive customer experience every business aims to create.
Customer Service in Security Teams – Recruitment
First and foremost, the recruitment process needs to ensure that only those who want to enhance the company image is hired. From the very beginning, the posting of the job opening should indicate the company is seeking a professional candidate. With the wrong attitude and lack of interest, you’ll attract those who see the security niche as a “rent-a-cop” department.
THE NUMBER ONE REASON WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CUSTOMER SERVICE
After the initial job posting, the interview process is also essential. Inform candidates of the security guard skills and responsibilities expected of them. If you want to separate the prepared and unprepared candidate, the interview should have specific questions, such as:
Can you tell me an example of a time you’ve had to handle a difficult circumstance? What was the outcome? Be prepared to give an example!
If a customer came in with a complaint, how would you deal with the problem? Be prepared to give an example!
- YOU WILL BE ASKED A CUSTOMER-SERVICE QUESTION DURING YOUR INTERVIEW!
Get The Candidates Talking
With the above types of questions, the interviewer does something important; you get the candidates talking. The more the candidates talk, the more the interviewer learns what sort of security guard they might become. The interviewer can get an idea of how the candidate may handle policy violations such as customer (or even employee) theft. Since communication skills for security guards are essential, this first meeting will allow the interviewer to learn about how well candidates can get their ideas across.
Rather than having just one interview, some companies have multiple interviews. This process allows the company to build up a security officer skills summary for each candidate. As well as asking questions, the hiring company usually completes a background check. Perhaps, even speak to your former employers. Incidentally, if talking to a former employer raises red flags, it may be in the candidate’s best interest to either inform the interviewer or not put that employer on the resume. A company’s goal is to save money and thus, be prepared for background checks.
You Should Ask Questions
During the interview process, companies also watch out for questions from the candidate. They look to see the candidate shows signs of confidence. The best candidates will ask such questions as:
What are the main duties of a security guard at your company?
What is the importance of customer service skills at this company?
Do you provide armed guard training?
Can you provide a list of schools that offer armed guard training?
- Is on-the-job training offered?
Questions like this show you have a genuine interest in the company. This is great news for the hiring company as well as for you.
Customer Service in Security Teams – Training
Usually, companies provide security training. However, companies in the know provide security AND customer-service training for security teams. For most customers, they expect a certain level of security, so managers of a company should make certain a security officer can meet these standards. Rather than having departments working separately, there’s something to be said for companies that have all departments working as one cohesive unit. This way, security officers understand what is expected of them and thus, offer the right kind of service depending on the needs of the consumers.
Importance of Customer Service in Security Teams
In today’s world, security guards need a patient and calm approach. When faced with a problem, they should consider the customer’s position before reaching a judgment. In one study (Alexandre, 1997), security officers were asked to list what they think can improve customer service and they identified three key areas.
Provide guards with the training to assess common customer reactions.
Train to gain clear communication to prevent confusion.
Have guards greet customers whenever they enter the security area.
Too often, we think of security teams as individuals catching the criminals and preventing disruptions. Instead, they actually serve customers just as well as other staff members.
While security guards with great customer-service skills can prevent some customers from feeling disappointed with the company, complaints are impossible to avoid completely. Above all else, security guards must know that respect is key and arguments lead to nothing but trouble. By trying to understand and stepping into the shoes of a customer, a security guard can show concern. Also, thanking the customer for bringing a problem to the company’s attention goes a long way in preventing a more serious issue. A thank you may keep the customer as a client.
Of course, this doesn’t mean guards should put up with blatant lies, misstatements, and abuse. By understanding the needs of customers, doors of calmness can open and everyone can work towards a positive solution to alleviate the tension.
Just like any other employee, physical appearance is important for the work of security guards. Communication skills for security guards are key, but this means nothing if they aren’t professionally dressed. For managers, they have a responsibility to ensure security guards have uniformity and are instantly recognizable as part of the brand.
Security Guard Gear
What should security guards wear? Well, some go for a military-style uniform to deter crime. Yet, it seems casual wear is becoming more common so they’re more approachable and personable.
As well as their uniform, the duties and responsibilities of security guards should extend to the presentation. For example, they should:
Have clean and polished shoes.
Be cleanly shaven.
Have their shirt tucked in and pressed.
Correctly position their duty belt.
Have a clean haircut.
Wear limited jewelry.
Make-up and colognes fall into the “less is more” category.
We believe there are some other simple duties and responsibilities of security guards, including having pens, notepad and company cell phone. If certain incidents take place, they need to note what happened as a key witness. Furthermore, they should carry more than one pen (we’ve all had a pen run out at the wrong time, right?). Subsequently, using your cell phone to capture the incident is also an option!
In terms of equipment, maintenance is a must. For example, officers should look after their radios because they are needed in an emergency. Alongside a radio, a flashlight should always have working batteries. If lights go out or you are on night patrol, even having an extra set of batteries show your preparedness for any situation.
Customer Service in Security Teams – Dealing with Hostile Customers
For security officers, we believe there’s an important distinction to be made between customers who are rude and customers who are hostile.
Rude – First, rude customers disappointed with the product or service may be a little obnoxious and or upset. They may complain. This is normal.
Hostile – On the other hand, hostility begins when the customer turns to verbal or physical threats.
Though we would all love it if we could, it’s impossible to start a business and go years without a single hostile customer. Security guards need to learn how the company wants them to deal with serious situations. Again, it comes down to security guard duties and responsibilities. All guards should:
Be trained in their responsibilities with hostile customers.
Know how to identify and predict when a customer will turn hostile.
Understand the cause of the hostility.
Do all they can to prevent hostility.
Know how to deal with the worst-case scenario while still maintaining the company image.
Contain hostile customers as soon as they become a threat to other customers, the security team, employees, and even themselves.
First and foremost, security officers should always protect themselves from danger. Next, training should be provided to equip guards with the skills to detain hostile customers and prevent danger to other parties. Actually, in so-called “defensive tactics”, the first (and perhaps most important!) step is “prevention.”
Hostile Situations Do Happen
What can the security officer do to prevent the customer from becoming hostile? Oftentimes, communication is a great starting point. Do your best to defuse the situation and try to calmly find a solution. If not, it’s important to handle the customer in a legally, socially, and tactically acceptable manner. Only if absolutely necessary, should force be used to protect you or others from harm? With the right defensive tactics in training, security officers can keep customers, employees, and even passers-by safe. Here are a few classes that would enhance your abilities to be a more effective security officer:
- Weapons Laws
- Law Enforcement
- Crime Prevention
In addition, you may participate in security simulations. The simulation will teach you how to respond to security breaches. Also, you will learn how to handle crowd control, vandalism and administer personnel screening.
If a violent situation occurs, it’s important to keep a record of what happened and the protocols you have been trained to follow. For the most part, being able to write a detailed and correct incident report has been ignored. Security officers must be adept at report writing. In the past, many companies have encountered problems because of poor report writing and companies have found themselves in court. If proper writing procedures are taught and followed, a company will stay protected if ever a legal issue arises.
In report writing, it’s very much a case of “the more detail, the better.” Also include the time, date and location. You will need to be able to explain in writing:
- What happened
- Take actions to prevent hostility
- The actions taken after the customer showed signs of hostility
Telephone Etiquette Standards
Next, security guards stationed at a reception desk or customer service window need to talk on the phone. Therefore, they need a professional, but friendly and polite telephone voice. Oftentimes, knowing proper telephone etiquette is overlooked. It is assumed the guard knows how to address the customers on the telephone. Instead, companies can ensure the security guard have some basic skills.
For Example, Guards Should:
Answer the telephone promptly.
Start with an introduction – “Hi, I’m Officer Smith. Thanks for calling, how may I help you?”
Ask for (and use!) the customer’s name.
Use a professional, but friendly tone.
Be as helpful as possible.
Always ask permission to place the caller on hold.
Also, telling people to ‘feel free to get back in touch if additional answers are needed’ and thank you for calling is a nice way to end the call. With this simple sentence, the security guard behaves and sounds very professional in completing a part of a guard’s responsibilities! The tone of the guard’s voice shows their willingness to help. In addition, a cheerful tone reflects how much you enjoy helping the caller!
In a 2000 study (Mesenbrink, 2000), female shoppers stated “safety” as one of the main reasons for shopping in one place over another. Simply put, customers will not return to a store if they don’t feel safe inside. Sometimes, security guards can contribute to the uneasy feeling. Therefore, all guards need to be personable and offer a smile to all who pass.
Often, surveillance systems are installed to catch the bad guys. Unfortunately, some companies reject surveillance systems because of the cost involved. However, they don’t think about the peace of mind it allows customers to have in their stores. If customers know they’re being watched, they may feel a little more secure. All things considered, the best companies will integrate customer relations with crime prevention.
Customer Service in Security Teams – Treating Customers with Respect
We’re all customers at one time or another, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to understand why security officers should be treating customers as they would like to be treated. Treating customers unfairly causes them to never return. With non-returning customers, companies risk the chance of losing monies and eventually may end up closing their doors.
In today’s climate, where there seems to be a competitor around every corner, it’s important to hold on to loyal customers. For the majority of people who seek out a security guard, they need a little help. At all times, treat customers with respect while working towards a solution.
Do This, Not That!
Something as simple as a positive attitude, often shows that the customer understands the guard is actually trying to help (even if they fail!). Often, security guards are accused of not caring or listening. Training in Customer-Service Skills will enhance the guard’s ability to prevent these types of accusations. It’s always important to listen to what customers say. A company’s training program may include the following areas:
Voice – Complement a calm voice with an even tone and volume.
Body Language – Security guards should maintain eye contact, smile (unless in the face of an angry customer, of course!), and use open body language. For example, crossed legs, folded arms, and hands in pockets suggests the guard doesn’t really care about helping.
Self-Confidence – A confident and positive attitude helps the guard take and keep control of the situation. The confidence of the guard help customers feels as though they’re in great hands and will have their problem resolved.
Word Usage – Finally, if too many negative words from the guard are used, the customer becomes frustrated. These negative words can include “but”, “no”, and “can’t”.
At times, the guard may not agree with what the customer is saying but still needs to listen. Although it is no surprise, infuriated customers are difficult to handle. After something has made them angry, they look to security guards to find a resolution. The best way to find this resolution is to really listen, show concern while also showing them respect.
Until a customer’s issue is resolved, respect to the customer is always shown. Subsequently, this means not interrupting the customer. Furthermore, it also means not answering a question with a question, making eye contact, and allowing a customer to vent.
Customer Service in Security Teams – Responsibilities of Supervisors
We’ve spoken about security guard skills and responsibilities, but what about the skills and responsibilities of supervisors? As the name suggests, the title of ‘supervisor’ is to supervise; to oversee. Normally at the line level, supervisors are responsible for overseeing the whole security team. This could be a dedicated security supervisor or a supervisor that works across multiple departments.
What are some of the duties of a dedicated security supervisor?
Investigate issues and incidents.
Enforce the company’s regulations.
Oversee all patrols.
Assign personnel to tasks.
Schedule all personnel movement.
Respond to incidents.
Ensure discipline for the department.
It is the work of security guard supervisors to lead the customer service charge. In many businesses, these supervisors can even act as the hinge or pivot between the security team and management. While security guards pass up concerns and requests, management passes down objectives and regulations.
Supervisors and Customer Service
Implementing customer-service skills is a growing role for security supervisors. As a result, supervisors introduce policies that increase the team’s abilities to boost the company’s customer service efforts. With this in mind, they must;
Ensure that all officers are having a positive impact.
Hire people with customer service skills and abilities or training.
Always look to investigate ways to improve customer service.
Communicate the company’s customer-service mission to all security guards.
Supervisors can also be in charge of in-house training. As has been the topic for this section, customer service can form an important part of this training. Wherever possible, we believe supervisors should encourage security teams to improve their skills and become better employees. Offering customer-service professional certifications ensures security guards feel valued. Therefore the guards stay with their employer for a longer period of time, avoiding turnovers.
Incidentally, high turnover rates send a message to customers that “security guards don’t enjoy working with the company.” By investing in the improvement of security guards customer-service skills, supervisors show their interest and respect for them. In doing this, the security guards may decide to have long careers within the company.
Customer Service in Security Teams – Tips for Improving the Role of Security Guards
Before we finish, we just want to provide some more ideas that companies can employ to boost customer service within their security team.
Mystery Shoppers – In case you haven’t heard this term previously, a mystery shopper is an impartial individual who poses as a customer to test the reactions and responses of security guards. If they present a problem or ask questions to the security officer, they can then report back to supervisors and managers regarding their experience.
The aim of this exercise isn’t to catch security guards behaving badly, but simply to highlight the good and bad traits. They can also suggest key training areas in the future to improve the service. If the security guard goes above and beyond, they can even be rewarded for their great work.
Define Expectations – Additionally, the duties and responsibilities of security guards can change from one business to the next. Therefore, defining expectations will allow guards to understand their position and what’s required of them. As Wal-Mart tells us, employees can be brilliant idea generators which is also why companies should always listen to their staff members.
Set Customer Satisfaction Targets – Rather than having an attitude of “well, we can’t make everybody happy”, setting customer satisfaction targets will encourage security guards to keep customers smiling. It will also encourage them to do everything they can to resolve problems. Although it sounds like the Disney experience, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make each and every customer happy.
Finally, when it comes to the importance of customer service, security guards are a part of the family just like all other employees. In this article, we’ve hopefully provided future security guards, new security guards, current security guards and employers with new and exciting ideas that they can do to improve the communication skills for security guards. In conclusion, security guards are the first and last face that a client sees as they walk in and out of any premises. We want them armed with:
The ability to communicate with people.
- Problem-solving Skills
- Listening Skills
- Empathy for the Customer
- And so much more!
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