A snapshot from our alarm centre19.07.2022
An alarm can only do its job if warning messages, emergency calls and error notifications are processed immediately and properly. The beating heart of Certas is the three alarm centres, which in 2021 received on average 42 signals every minute. Our Colleagues Patrick, Dejan and Matthieu give us a glimpse of daily life in our alarm centre in Lausanne.
Let’s go through the security gate and walk in. The atmosphere is calm and relaxed. But things aren’t always this way. Matthieu explains that the times when there are more alarms are related to when businesses are opening and closing. That tends to be early in the morning and in the evening. “The busiest time of the year is around Christmas,” explains Dejan. “December in particular is the month that often puts us to the test, because many shops have special opening times and lots of customers. That’s when our days are hectic; things are especially busy here during the holiday period.”
For retailers, Christmas is a time when they have staff who are less used to the shop because they have been transferred from another branch for the special opening times before Christmas, or been hired on a temporary basis. The staff find themselves in unaccustomed situations and there are more false alarms and test alarms we have to respond to.
This also applies to calls received outside opening hours, such as for facilities managers, technicians in car parks, or power cuts and central heating breakdowns. Basically, there is a whole series of factors that mean it is often a fairly stressful time for us.
When asked what they like best about working in the Certas alarm centre, they all give the same answer: “Our work is very varied. No two days are the same.”
This is how Stéphane sums it up: “Understanding our clients’ needs and improving all the time are important not just for the for the development of our society, but for everyone working in the alarm centre too. Our work is easier and we like it when clients trust us and are satisfied. Our clients are very eclectic, which means working in the alarm centre is very varied. We take an interest in all the processes and complexities of processing and monitoring. We are constantly investigating and checking procedures; there is always something new or something that can be improved or simplified. It’s a big responsibility.”
“The key qualities for our dispatchers are care, discipline, flexibility and friendliness, also being willing to adapt to different working hours. On top of that, our staff need to keep calm in all situations.” Patrick is professional development manager and responsible for onboarding and training the team in the Lausanne alarm centre, a process that takes at least three months. “The aim is that after these three months people can work independently, but at that stage they are still not familiar with all the more complicated procedures. Gradually, they master things.”
“On my first day at work, Certas was not fully available to contact, because there was national disruption to the phone system and landlines. It was impressive, how well we worked together as a team that time,” adds Dejan.
Matthieu too was left feeling positive after a special incident: “A few years ago we had a short circuit during some building works, and the power supply to part of the alarm centre was cut off. Things dragged on and we had to reorganise all our work to cope as best we could. It was tough, because we only had access to less than half our normal equipment. But I could see the willingness and commitment – the team really pulled together. That reassured me we were moving in the right direction with the solution we had chosen, and reinforced my confidence in the centre.”
The phone rings, an alarm is being received at Certas; Matthieu puts on his headset and says goodbye: “Here we go...”