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What is Customer Success?

There are two types of cities today: first, those that leverage cutting edge technology to enhance the performance of its public servants; and second, cities that simply hire more public servants with limited success to drive enhanced performance. You could say that efforts to prevent gun violence are impacted similarly by these same choices -- intelligence-driven policing versus the outdated “more boots on the ground” approach to policing.

Today, there is no question that ShotSpotter’s wide area acoustic sensor networks are fast and accurate - we are approaching 100 customer agencies and tens of thousands of successful alerts. Our customers are seeing dramatic reductions in gunfire due to a rapid response to an alert for illegal gunfire and the ability to conduct investigations based on evidence collected at the scenes of crimes. 

So how do ShotSpotter alerts translate into customer success? The answer is through good police work coupled with a rigorous change management process that reallocates assets and resources to specific hot spots where gun violence occurs.The results of reallocating these resources helps officers to arrive faster to crime scenes, apprehend illegal gun activity while “in the act” more swiftly and the intelligence gathered can help prosecute criminals faster. All of these activities improve agency work and help to keep communities safer.

Beyond Rapid Response

Acquiring ShotSpotter is well and good – a critical first step to understanding the true scope of gunfire in a neighborhood. However, merely deploying a sensor array and sitting back, self-satisfied at the new acquisition is a very expensive way to create pin maps. Truly successful agencies achieve success by communicating a shared vision to personnel and to communities that each alert to gunfire will be responded to and investigated as if it was a homicide in-progress. The necessary follow up work cannot be accomplished without first engaging in a change management process that starts with the chief executive and permeates throughout the entire agency.

The agency chief executive must lead this effort. Regular discussions with command staff and political leaders about expectations and support of the new approach to combat gun violence must take place before the ShotSpotter system goes live and in the months after the initiative is launched. Many agencies publish a written general order or standard operating procedure that governs patrol, investigative and analytical activities related to ShotSpotter alerts. Leaders should also consider circulating ShotSpotter success stories from other jurisdictions with similar gun violence issues in their communities. Builidng a base of supporters that understand the reason for change and linking this to probable outcomes is critical to achieving early victories and momentum. At ShotSpotter we have archived many stories of customer success that we can share for this purpose.

Follow Up – The Key to Success
Our most successful customers, the ones reaping the benefits of reduced gunfire and increased community engagement, achieve and maintain success by following up on the real-time intelligence ShotSpotter provides.

Good follow up from customers after real-time intelligence frequently consists of:

• Rapid, tactically sound and consistent response to ShotSpotter Flex alerts

• Comprehensive recording and collection of evidence left behind by shooters

• Comprehensive entry of shell casings into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN)

• Comprehensive tracing of recovered firearms

• Analysis of the results from the above processes to identify investigative priorities

• Miles of old fashioned shoe leather running down leads, interviewing victims, witnesses and suspects

Importance of Go-To Point Person
Beyond just the leader of an organization, agencies will also need to identify an internal ShotSpotter “champion”, someone directed and empowered by the chief to achieve the following:

• Lead the deployment and subsequent structure for responding to alerts, collecting evidence and carrying out specific follow up actions (evidence processing, intra- and inter- agency information sharing, community engagement).

• Coordinate the ShotSpotter Flex training for agency personnel by SST.

• Obtain cooperation from any agency units with a role in responding to gun violence, (tactical units, crime scene assets, investigators, community service officers, crime analysis personnel, etc.).

• Negotiate with outside institutions (crime labs, probation/parole, faith community, academic research partners, etc.) to advance the agency’s goal of reduced gun violence in the coverage area and throughout the jurisdiction.

• Carefully track and report outcomes before and after deployment of ShotSpotter Flex. This step is absolutely critical for an agency to get the maximum benefit from our service.

• Communicate regularly with SST about all aspects of the service, missed or mis-located gunshots and successes too. Two-way communication is very important because it’s how we learn whether or not our network is doing its job. An agency cannot over-communicate with us!

A strong internal program manager who is engaged and passionate about making sure everything stays on track, and who’s performance will be judged (at least in part) by whether or not the Flex service is working well, may be the most crucial component of a successful deployment. That individual absolutely must have authority to speak for the chief when negotiating with internal and external partners. He or she must be collaborative but resolute about what it takes to reduce gunfire and gain community trust in the neighborhoods where ShotSpotter Flex is deployed.

Succeeding Together
We continue to learn that our most successful customer agencies, those that have seen dramatic reductions in gunfire and increases in community engagement, are the ones who have carefully scripted their acquisition of ShotSpotter technology; whose chief executive follows the progress of the deployment and assigns a strong program manager to assure follow through; who craft an action plan guided by standard operating procedures; who assiduously track outcomes; and who communicate with us so much that their program manager is on a first-name basis with our support and customer success organizations. How does your organization measure up and how can we help you to maximize your investment and achieve success? We want to hear from you.


October 05, 2015
By: Mark D. Jones, Sr. Director, Customer Success