The commercial side has undergone the same integration, as disparate systems like access control, the fire system and burglar alarm are put on one platform, Petrow says. When an employee is terminated, for example, the business owner can immediately remove his or her access code. Employers can determine if an employee opened the store on time and manage slip and fall claims with cameras. A car dealer can use video to prove a vehicle was already scratched when it came for service.
“We’re able to provide technology that makes businesses able to operate a lot smoother and more cost-effectively,” she says. “It’s not just a tool anymore for when the smoke alarms go off to be able to evacuate people.”
New products and services, however, mean a new sales presentation. Petrow says they initially underestimated the challenge of getting the existing salesforce comfortable. They trained them on how the new services worked and said, OK, now go sell it.
But reps often returned from calls without offering the new technology. Petrow says they didn’t want to create a negative experience for long-term customers or damage their brand or the company’s brand.
“We struggled — and we’re much better now than we were, even a couple years ago — with getting our teams, our sales teams primarily, to adopt the technology. One was they were afraid of it. But we found out, too, that we had to put it in their homes so that they fell in love with it, so they had that degree of comfort when they were out in front of a customer,” Petrow says.
They had to become personally engaged before the sales took off, she says. In addition, Vector found it useful for installers to use their iPad and say, “Look, I don’t know if your salesperson talked to you about all these things, but if you’re interested in any of them, I’d be happy to explain them to you.”
It’s a second chance to expose customers to changing technology because Petrow says it’s frustrating when customers call to cancel because they’re looking for a service that Vector provides.
“We try to make sure at all points we can that the customer knows what the value proposition is and what our products and service offerings are,” she says.
More training, different recruitment
The evolution of technology creates the need for a more diversified team with different skills. Vector’s investment in training has increased substantially, as a result.
“The other thing that’s been interesting from our HR perspective is the industry years ago was not very attractive to younger people,” Petrow says. “They didn’t want to come in because it was dated and there wasn’t a whole lot of technology.”
Today, younger people see a product they can relate to, and Vector benefits because they can get up to speed quickly. They’re already using their phones for everything.
“We’re able to hire differently than we could 10 years ago or 15 years ago when people would come in and went, ‘Ah, that product looks like it’s from the ’70s.’ It’s really pushed us as a company to train differently. We can hire differently, and we have a different pool of people who are interested in the technology that’s now out there,” she says.
However, recruiting younger employees takes a different strategy. Vector previously used a centralized recruiter, but that isn’t effective.
“They don’t want to talk to a recruiting department. They don’t want to talk to HR. They want to talk directly with the manager that they’re going to be working with,” Petrow says. “So, we’ve had to up our game in terms of the training for the people that are directly hiring.”
You cannot place an ad and be done, she says. Managers have to change the posting if it’s not getting enough hits to keep it relevant. Quality job candidates also expect a quick response, so managers must stay involved and available the entire time a posting is up.
“A lot of the managers don’t necessarily feel that they want to go down that road and start spending their time recruiting. They want that to be done by an HR function,” Petrow says.
But the mindset of younger people coming into the workforce requires this approach. They have a different perspective on what they want to know about the company and the people who they would be working with.
Vector’s internal resources have shifted as well. Cyber is critical, so the IT team has been ramped up, Petrow says. There’s more awareness of cyberrisk and an organization-wide commitment to limiting it. The incident response team does tabletop exercises and employees watch a video on the topic every month.
The IT team has changed its approach, too. Before, if an employee was caught by a phishing email, he or she did training, she says. Now, if employees report phishing emails, they’re rewarded for the right behavior.
The company also develops its resources and outside partnerships so it can deliver more, such as knowing to send a text message rather than call when an alarm goes off. Petrow says everything has to look seamless to customers and you cannot be the best at everything.