022: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Security Incident Reports
On today’s episode, we discuss what separates a good security incident report from ones that are bad or just truly ugly. These reports are the most direct representation of your work to the customer, so it’s important to make sure they are thorough, detailed, and professional.
“A good report is accurate, specific, factual, objective, clear, complete, and concise,” says Chris.
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Helping The Customer
There are our basic criteria, but how do we determine if a report meets those standards. To get a sense of how useful a report is, imagine reading it from the perspective of the customer.
The primary purpose of an incident report is to help someone who wasn’t there get a sense of precisely what happened.
Too often, however, we see reports that are almost incomprehensible to customers that didn’t witness the incident. Maybe there’s too much lingo, key details left out, inaccurate or biased statements, or the chronology of events is off. Whatever the case, a confusing report doesn’t help anyone.
Make sure to include all the necessary information, and nothing more. A longer report is not necessarily a better report. Too much information can confuse customers just as much as not enough information, so it’s important to keep the report as short as possible while still answering the five W’s and an H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
The way we present reports to customers heavily impacts the way they read them. A thorough, concise, and accurate report will still give customers a bad impression if it’s written in crayon. That’s not a joke either, Chris has actually encountered guards writing incident reports in crayon before.
Fortunately, there’s no reason to have to worry about the correct writing utensil anymore, as guards can just type in the information to incident reporting software on mobile devices. This can also help with grammar and spelling, another issue that makes reports appear unprofessional.
“As an officer, there’s not something that hurts your credibility more than improper punctuation, grammar, and spelling,” I tell Chris. “We don’t need to write a high-quality essay here, but we do need to make sure we’re spelling the basic words correctly.”
Accuracy And Specificity
An accurate report doesn’t just improve your relationship with the customer, it can help protect you and your guards against complaints. Too often in the security industry people are ready to assume we’ve messed up at our jobs, so keeping an accurate record of events is key to demonstrating what you’ve done correctly.
“Think about an average apartment community with 500 people, and one guard.” says Chris. “500 people with the ability to… complain about your guard. You’ve got to have detail, you really do."
A bad report, one that contains inaccurate or incomplete information, can cause numerous problems. Imagine a property manager trying to follow up on an incident you reported, only she can’t because the report contains the wrong unit number, or it doesn’t record the full name of the parties involved, or doesn’t fully explain what happened.
Now, the property manager has to call you to fill in the details, which means you have to turnaround and call the officer. Everyone’s unhappy, everyone’s having to do more work, and all because a couple key details were missing or wrong in the original report.
Using an incident reporting system, you can register residents’ names ahead of time to avoid miscommunication there, use audio files and pictures to supplement the text, and establish clear fields for the officer to fill out so that nothing is missing. This makes incident reporting quicker, more accurate, and more professional.