Never Underestimate Support and Knowing your Customer
I had a recent interaction with a security and surveillance camera supplier that left me pleasantly surprised.
If you prefer video over reading, here it is on YouTube.
A while back I wrote a post about designing a payment system related to working at a pizza place. The TL;DR for here is I was helping a friend out with a bit of technology related topics.
This post is about a site I recently discovered called CCTV Camera Pros. By the way, this post isn’t a sponsorship and I have no affiliation with them. No one asked me to write this except my own brain. I felt compelled after recently purchasing a camera from them.
Around the time my friend opened he had someone pick and install a security camera system. This was before I met him. The goal was to set up a few cameras to watch areas inside and outside of his store.
Unfortunately that person set him up with a discontinued model of a wired camera system (not from CCTV Camera Pros). It supports 8 cameras but none of the cameras from that manufacturer support audio and now my friend wanted to hook up 1 camera with audio near his cash register.
I called that manufacturer and they confirmed none of the cameras they sell have audio but the DVR (the box that the cameras connect to) supports audio. However we would be on our own to find a 3rd party camera, they couldn’t recommend any.
The best they gave me was the manual for this model which stated the specs of the camera. It’s a wired 1080p camera with a BNC connector and a 12V DC / 300 mA input rating.
At first I started to look on Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart and other sites. I couldn’t find anything good. Most of those cameras being individually sold were for specific DVRs.
I mostly know about software and computers in general. I’m not super handy but I can usually figure out most electronics and can research things if I get stuck but I’m not a professional camera installer.
Anyways, I was coming up empty everywhere. Another option was getting a standalone wireless camera that connects to a mobile phone, completely separate from this system. There were a bunch for like $40-60. However most of them only worked over wifi and offered no way to connect into it from the outside internet. It was important for him to be able to check the cameras from his house, not within the store.
They also had SD cards that didn’t have a lot of space (couple days worth of recording) and most offered their own flavor of optional cloud hosting which was ~$10 / month.
The store owner isn’t very technical and he’s already used to the system we have which does work on his phone through an app, and it offers connecting over the internet. It’s nice too because the storage on that DVR has about 30-40 days worth of recording time with all cameras set up to be motion activated.
I was convinced I had to find a camera with audio that works for this device so I Googled around and found https://www.cctvcamerapros.com/.
The New Security Camera
I ultimately landed on https://www.cctvcamerapros.com/Smoke-Detector-Security-Camera-p/hcpro-sd380.htm. Now think about this from my perspective.
I don’t know a huge amount about security cameras. I know how to connect wires, I understand that power, video and audio can travel through a wire but my confidence level wasn’t 100% by skimming the manufacturer specs alone.
However, the description of the camera had everything including a bunch of pictures and videos demonstrating how it looks. That piece was critical.
The videos are what sold me on it. They were concise and informative. They felt like they were recorded by someone who knew the product in depth. Spoiler alert: later on I found out that most videos were made by the co-founder of the company.
There was no 5 minutes of bullshit like “Hey guys, Matthew McSecurityFace here, welcome to the video, please like us on Facebook and smash that like button. By the way did you know if you comment on this video, we’ll pick a winner to receive 10% off your next order”.
No, it told me exactly what I wanted to know in literally 2 minutes, technically 1 minute because I watched the video at 2x speed.
The part I was a bit sketchy on before I found this site was making sure I got the correct cable to go with it but this site made it really easy. Right next to the shiny “Add to cart” button I was able to pick one that I know will work. Notice how it explicitly says that wire is for power, video and audio. That’s exactly what I wanted to see.
I Called Them Before I Placed the Order
It can’t hurt right? I was 90% sure this one would work but I called to get closer to 100%. Within a minute I was chatting with a rep. I explained the situation and he looked up the DVR model we have and compared its specs with this camera. It’s all good.
I had a few concerns, such as if this camera will be able to capture enough detail to pick out a dollar bill type from about a 9 foot ceiling with the register being on a 3 foot counter top.
Ultimately one goal of the camera here was to be able to see things like “ok, there was a $100 bill at 6:30pm in the register but at closing it wasn’t there, what happened?”.
This camera doesn’t have zoom built into it but the software supports zoom. Of course it will be a bit blurry since it’s only going to capture 1080p in the end but the detail is enough to make out high level shapes and designs.
The best part of the call was when the rep said “you’re overthinking it” after I asked him if he’s sure about the level of detail. Internally that made me laugh because this guy analyzed and diagnosed my whole life in a matter of a few minute conversation about cameras.
The call was friendly and I learned a few things. He also reminded me about a feature of the camera’s capture modes and how I can change it with a little joystick in case the camera only records in black and white instead of color.
Later that day I showed my friend the camera to make sure he’s ok with it and how it records, he said yes so then I ordered it.
After Placing the Order
I received a few emails, let’s break them down.
Email number 1 (right after ordering):
Here’s what I liked about this email:
- The subject let me know exactly what I’m getting into by clicking it
- There’s a link to the product I bought
- It shows me exactly about the video mode joystick in case I need to adjust it
- I’m guessing this was a popular question they receive
- There’s links to multiple videos and guides if needed
For someone who isn’t a professional camera installer this level of detail is pretty much perfect. Everything is in 1 spot to get going once the camera arrives.
Email number 2 (3 days later):
At this point the product didn’t arrive yet, but it came one day afterwards.
I like how personal this email felt. Of course it’s an auto-responder but it at least feels like it was sent by a human to me. Not an audience but me.
I didn’t receive a tracking number so I ended up replying to that email requesting one and explained I didn’t make an account on their site at order time so I couldn’t look the order up.
In a legit 2 minutes he replied with the tracking number and wished me a good weekend and to reach out if I have any questions during installation. This happened on a Friday afternoon. Can’t really ask for better service.
What I liked about that interaction was he didn’t even ask me for my order number. This is a great example of optimizing for your customers. I don’t know what they did on the back-end, perhaps he looked me up by email or name and noticed I only had 1 order so it must be that one in question. That’s a safe assumption to make given the context.
It was a breath of fresh air to see another company take this level of care about their customers. Especially in today’s world of having to navigate phone menus with a rat’s nest of automated options, waiting on hold for a long time, getting lackluster support and generally leaving a really bad taste in your mouth after feeling like you’ve been trivialized, squeezed and burdened to further add profits to some company.
Applying This to Your Service
My site covers topics around building and deploying web apps, being a software developer and running a business.
This recent experience with CCTV Camera Pros was a nice reminder at how important and how far good customer experience can go. I try to offer similar levels of support with my courses around answering questions and providing as much relevant information as I can.
A couple of takeaways for anyone running a business or selling something:
- Treat your customers as humans
- Optimize for them even if it means doing things that don’t scale
- Know your audience
- Try to understand what questions they have ahead of time and answer them in your docs or marketing
- Keep updating and refining things as new questions and concerns pop up
- Be empathetic to what your customers are thinking when they read your content
- Most importantly understand WHY they’re reading something specific
By the way, in the end the camera worked out. The guides worked!
Video Version of This Post
- 1:15 – CCTV Camera Pros and the backstory
- 6:42 – The new security camera and how I picked it
- 10:37 – Giving them a call before the order
- 13:23 – Going over a few emails
- 16:55 – Takeaways and applying this to your service
What’s one of your favorite customer experience stories? Let us know below.