On March 23, 2011, Faye Jones, a 71-year-old Philadelphia resident who suffers from Alzheimer's wandered away from home and did not return.
Detectives located the woman, who was sitting inside of an unlocked vehicle, approximately eight blocks away. The woman was later returned unharmed, despite the cold temperatures and the fact that she was only wearing nightwear.
Fortunately, her husband Elijiah had purchased a bracelet which enabled the Philadelphia police to locate her within an hour. The bracelet contains a transmitter that the police locate using special tracking equipment.
The bracelet and the special police tracking equipment are provided by the SafetyNet division of LoJack. A company known for stolen vehicle recovery is now in the business of saving lives.
And the bracelet is a marvel of engineering. It is waterproof up to 6 feet; its signal penetrates cement walls and has a 30-day battery life.
However, technology alone does not save lives.
How did LoJack introduce this lifesaving device into the market? How does a company skilled on selling and marketing to the auto industry enter the medical device market?
I worked closely with SafetyNet management for several months as a consultant and helped define and execute their approach to this new market.
We focused on three areas to accelerate market adoption.
1. Understand the customer through in-depth interviews
When I started with the program, SafetyNet had an existing customer base of people wearing the bracelet. SafetyNet management felt that they knew their customer and target market. However, we decided to interview the caregivers anyway.
Our goals for these interviews were:
• Understand what it is like to live with a person who wanders
• Learn about how they deal with the wandering
• Understand how they learn about products like SafetyNet
We collected our information via open ended questions which we asked during 30 minute telephone conversations. We interviewed 15 caregivers over a two week period.
This work helped us understand the effect that the SafetyNet service had on their lives.
The early users loved it.
We heard comments like "we can go camping for the first time" or "I can take my son to the mall." We learned how much it improved quality of life by allowing families to participate in activities that most people take for granted.
I started off conducting these interviews with just the product manager. However, word spread within the company and we were joined by people from across the organization. The interviews were so gripping that we made sure we had a box of tissues in the room.
These in-depth interviews enabled us to grasp the emotional impact of the SafetyNet service. These insights influenced almost every aspect of LoJack's Go To Market strategy.
Additionally, LoJack understood the power of continuing to conduct these types of interviews with customers and prospects on an ongoing basis.
2. Focus on the customer experience
LoJack built its well deserved reputation for innovation by recovering stolen vehicles. This product is hidden in the car and the buyer only thinks about it at the time of purchase or if their vehicle is stolen.
LoJack's original core competencies are radio frequency expertise and tight relationships with the police. While these are relevant to SafetyNet, they are not enough.
As we learned in the interviews, a missing person is an incredibly sensitive topic. A missing person is not a stolen car. A higher level of skill and emotional intelligence are required of the customer service representatives. It is vital to relate to the chaos in the lives of the caregivers especially when a loved one is missing.
LoJack must now deliver a fail safe level of customer service both internally and via the public safety agencies. LoJack invested heavily to help public safety agencies modify their 911 processes to optimally support the SafetyNet service. LoJack hired experts to educate caregivers and special needs professionals in the operation of the service.
3. Improve the value equation for police
The SafetyNet service requires that the local public safety agencies are capable of searching for the missing person.
To accelerate adoption of a new technology by a large public safety agency , it is important to understand both the benefits and costs of moving forward. The value equation provides a framework to do this.
Value Equation = Benefits - Costs
If the Value Equation is positive then adoption will occur.
The SafetyNet program provides a number of benefits to the police by enabling them to rescue missing people quickly.
On the cost side, LoJack provides the tracking equipment and training on how to use it at no charge to the police. While no monetary outlay is needed, police adoption still requires a commitment to send officers to training and change a number of internal processes.
To improve the value equation you must either increase benefits or reduce costs. Some the steps LoJack took to accelerate police adoption:
• Add value throughout the adoption process. The LoJack Law Enforcement Liaisons have excellent relationships with the police. They are not just sales people. They were coaches and confidantes who were viewed as search and rescue advisors. (increase the customer's benefit)
• Provide an invaluable training experience. In addition to teaching police teams how to use the equipment, the SafetyNet training included sections on how to deal with missing persons with Alzheimer's, Autism or other cognitive impairments. (increase the customer's benefit)
• Make the police chiefs look brilliant for supporting the SafetyNet program. LoJack developed a PR program and a set of promotional tools when each new agency came on board. (increase the customer's benefit)
• Reduce the training time from 2 ½ days to 1 day. (decrease the customer's cost)
As a result, police departments in numerous small towns and large cities including Philadelphia, Boston, and South Florida are now capable of using the SafetyNet service to find missing persons, such as Faye Jones.