Employment and placement in the private security industry has increased in the recent decades, consequently increasing public interaction in the service delivery process (Schreier & Caparini, 2005). Though their primary role is to ensure safety, private security guards are perceived differently across the globe. There are two main aspects of satisfaction, namely; customer-based and the general public. Customers in this industry are clients- individuals or organizations- who receive specialized security services such as executive protection, body-guarding, property protection, and surveillance and monitoring. Increase in industry growth points to increasing positive attraction and satisfaction with services rendered by private security companies. On the other hand, the general public, who are either protected or barred from accessing various places, has divergent perspectives based on interactive experiences with private security officers. However, perspectives are dependent on the type of service in context, nature of interaction, geographical setting and the frequency of service observation (De Waard, 1999).
Kim, Lee & Jo (2012) categorizes client customer satisfaction based on goal achievement/merits, competence, quality of services rendered and cost effectiveness. The present increase in demand for private security services translate to positive client perceptions. Individuals and organizations are seeking help from private security services to explore various security dimensions and issues diligently. Private security companies are strict in achieving their targets and presenting their clients with the exact services they request. The amounts paid by private contractors such as state governments, corporate organizations and individuals for security services have more than doubled in the past decade (Van Steden & Sarre, 2007). Firms handle private assignments with care, in order to build a good profile, make adequate money and enhance their expertise. This way, they are able to successfully complete assignments such as investigations, security provision and computer solutions within the agreed timelines.
Professional and executive personal guards are excellent life protectors. They have adequate tactical, technical and operational skills to handle an opportunistic threat to their client. VIPs are adequately satisfied with private security’s bodyguards and protection units against theft and criminal activities. Skills acquired through interagency training ensures that professional bodyguards can scan and understand threats based on geography and situational safety patterns, to effectively evacuate and protect their client. This competency score, has greatly enhanced the demand for personal protection units across the globe. Milliard (2003), believes that customers need security who are quick to respond to their needs, whether small or big: effective customer care services define satisfaction rates. Outcomes of give projects also determine the satisfaction of a client, for example, government’s foreign contract to send private military personnel for a specialized operation, or building a high-tech military vehicle. If the operation is successful, within set timelines, and without legal liabilities, and the devised vehicle has super technological abilities, then the contracting government is satisfied, and vice versa. Understanding a client’s need and suing their preferences or recommendations to devise a working strategy for an assignment helps improve customer satisfaction.
According to Argueta (2012) clients analyzed in a security survey showed that more than 75% consensus with proper understanding of their organizational requirements in enhancing their satisfaction. Corporate organizations are adequately satisfied when a contracted firm effectively takes care of security, to allow for smooth flow of operations and production. Client satisfaction has been greatly enhanced through competitive pricing strategies used by various security firms to promote their services. Depending on the type of assignment, required resources and the organization’s profile, pricing rates differ across different service deliverers. Finally, quality of services based on knowledge (education) level, skill competence, absence of legal consequences and timely accomplishments have attracted more corporate clients (Bures & Carrapico, 2018). Private security organizations are doubling input resources and promoting professionalism through ethical services. Integrity ensures that clients are safe, and their property well guarded, therefore improving customer satisfaction. Finally, managerial elements of a private security firm determines the level of satisfaction to clients. Strategic management with strict legal compliance is a adhesive quality for customer satisfaction (Mahoney, 2017). Poor business models and management wards off client, and creates low levels of satisfaction especially due to legal liabilities (White & MacLeod, 2008).
General Public’s Perspective
The general public has a more in-depth interaction with security guards, in shopping malls, institutions such as banks, and in travel, e.g. airport security (Bures & Carrapico, 2017). The public creates perspectives and attributes satisfaction from individual observation and interaction with private security officers and their services. The general public also comprises of aspiring individuals, who based on their understanding of the industry, would like to join the industry. Aspects observed by the general public include; professionalism, efficiency, conduct or behavior, and the importance in designated settings. According to Prem (2018), public perceptions have changed over the years due to enhanced professional training of security guards, increased salaries and wages, and their positive impact on public safety.
Professionalism in service delivery, especially with security guards, has become a central point to the public image. Most people still harbor concerns on the ethical and professional qualities of local security guards. In most scenarios, the guards are portrayed as invasive elements to privacy, convenience and personal liberty (Kenworthy, 2010). For example, accessing a shopping mall or a restaurant requires a body check, for weapons and illegal items. Enhanced surveillance in such places also infringes personal privacy through around-the-clock monitoring, hindering convenience to personal activities. Other public opinions are based on the kind of policing the private security guards use to control human traffic and guide organizational processes. The social control effect by “rough” guards whose motivation is strict abidance to set rules, regulations and guidelines. In a security study conducted in the United States, half or the respondents claimed to feel safe when they saw security guards around, while 42% felt sensitive is the same situation. Friendliness score was also split amongst respondents at 50% positive (Gill, 2015). The study involved structured questions to examine citizen satisfaction, both consumers and the general public. Studied elements included safety perspective when guards are around, public sensitivity, politeness, individual and organizational conduct, education and training, competence in complex situations, honesty and effectiveness in property or life protection.
On the negative, the public in another study conducted in Singapore showed public dissatisfaction with the levels of education, training, ability to make helpful decisions when faced with complex situations, and individual integrity. 53% were not sure about integrity in the industry, claiming that some are sincere while others are dishonest. Only 20% of respondents in both studies had full confidence with the service delivery process, and would trust security guards with their lives and property. 38% disagreed on the same, while 42% were not sure (van Steden & Nalla, 2010) These statistics show the imbalance in public perceptions on satisfaction, mainly derived from past experiences and first-hand observations. Most public respondents believe that with proper recruitment (educated personnel), training and better organizational approaches, private security services can be revolutionized to effectively succeed in the mandated roles of property and life protection. Otherwise, over 50% of surveyed citizens in Netherlands will still harbor negative perceptions and stereotypes, which effect their interaction with security guards, and ultimately hinder public safety maximization (Chisholm, 2018). In other aspects such as private military deployment, cyber crime protection and other computer solutions, the public has shown increased support to their services. They feel contented with both contactual and humanitarian deployment to war-torn zones and in fighting insurgency. Just a small number of people who pitch leg gal and human right issues, related to general military deploy, as private services are only used to reinforce state forces.
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