J.D. Power is a well-known name when it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, and they have been measuring satisfaction in the home security industry since 2016. Changes affecting the marketplace – both in terms of disruptors and technology – make this a unique time. For example, in 2019, J.D. Power expanded the Home Security Satisfaction Study to not only measure the traditional pro-install/pro-monitor companies, but to separately evaluate self-install/pro-monitor brands. 

“At J.D. Power our rankings are meant to support an industry in two key ways,” says Christina Cooley, J.D. Power's Director, @Home Intelligence. “First, we provide consumers who are shopping for products and services with a ‘report card’ of who provides customers with high levels of customer satisfaction. Second, we provide companies with actionable insights to help them prioritize their initiatives to improve and maintain high levels of customers satisfaction that drive loyalty and growth.”

Differentiating between companies

The traditional Pro-Install/Pro-Monitor companies are challenged to differentiate from one another

In home security, J.D. Power is in a unique position to report on the changes taking place in the evolving industry. The 2019 rankings show that the traditional Pro-Install/Pro-Monitor companies are challenged to differentiate from one another, as each have their individual strengths and opportunities, but overall the score range is relatively tight. On the do-it-yourself (DIY) side, there is more differentiation. A set of brands has been able to challenge the traditional industry by achieving extremely high customer satisfaction levels.

Price is always an important factor that impacts customer satisfaction, whether for security or another market J.D. Power serves. The equation is simple, says Cooley: Does the price paid equal the value the customer feels they have received from the product or service?

“For Home Security, we didn’t specifically look at price until this year,” says Cooley. “With the changes that have occurred in the market, price can be a differentiator as we’ve seen with the emergence of DIY-installed systems. However, lower pricing does not have a direct relationship to quality of service.”

The price factor

For example, there are some higher-priced pro-installed brands that perform lower on customer satisfaction than lower-priced competitors. And DIY-installed systems as a whole are less expensive, and price is the customer satisfaction driver in which the DIY segment most outperforms the pro segment. 

Price is the customer satisfaction driver in which the DIY segment most outperforms the pro segment

The equation is: Performance minus Expectations equals Customer Satisfaction.  “Obviously, price point will be a factor in the purchase decision and the expectations the customer has about the product and service,” says Cooley. “Any pro or DIY system has the opportunity to differentiate the customer experience regardless of price point.”

There are clear differences in the pro vs. DIY experience, which is why J.D. Power evaluates the brands in separate rankings. However, Cooley says the drivers of satisfaction are consistent across both groups.  The key to each group goes back to the equation above. 

Evaluating the purchase process

For the both pro and DIY companies, J.D. Power evaluates the purchase process the same. Though the customer may take a different path to purchase based on the offering they seek, the drivers are still the same:

  • Usefulness of information provided
  • Reasonableness of contract terms
  • Professionalism of sales representative
  • Ease of purchasing home security system.

For installation, there are clear differences. DIY systems are evaluated based on:

  • Ease of completing installation
  • Quality of installation instructions provided
  • Timeliness of receiving home security system.

Pro systems are evaluated based on:

  • Professionalism of technician
  • Timeliness of completing installation
  • Quality of work performed.

Interestingly, purchase and installation are the customer satisfaction driver where both pro and DIY providers (as a whole) are most closely aligned on performance.

Customer loyalty

The price a customer is paying must align with the quality of the system they receive

What drives a customer to purchase a home security system initially will often be very different than what will keep them as a loyal customer, Cooley notes. The price a customer is paying must align with the quality of the system they receive, and the service provided through the professional monitoring and customer service. “With the expansion of home security offerings, it’s more important than ever for home security companies to understand the motivations, intentions, and usage patterns across different customer segments to ensure that regardless of the decision to go pro or DIY-install, they are able to meet their customers’ needs and differentiate in the very competitive market. The J.D. Power Home Security Study provides these actionable insights.”

The study is focused on the companies/brands that comprise the top two-thirds of market share in each segment, pro and DIY installed. A number of the brands included may work with local dealers or retailers for sales and install, but the customer is essentially evaluating those services as part of the system purchased. It is one and the same from the customer’s perspective, and the sales/install process can either delight or frustrate a customer from the beginning, which can then set the foundation for the entire experience moving forward.

Reasons for shopping for a security system tend to differ between pro and DIY shoppers:

  • Both sets are most focused on wanting a newer, more up-to-date system
  • Between the two, pro customers are more often moving into a new home or wanting to take advantage of a discount or bundling opportunity with other products
  • For DIY customers, they are shopping for a system to give them more peace of mind and to protect their property.

Reasons for selecting the provider also vary:

  • A pro company is often selected based on brand reputation or a special offer/promo
  • A DIY company is primarily chosen based on price or a positive review.

In terms of brand image, we see that customers see both pro and DIY providers similarly in terms of reliability. However, when it comes to being customer-driven, DIY providers receive higher image ratings compared to pro-installed companies.

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Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SecurityInformed.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SecurityInformed's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

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