When a visitor enters your organization's place of work, what do they see? What do they experience? Is the first impression they receive one that reflects well on your organization? If you haven’t asked yourself these questions lately, it might be time to consider the last time you evaluated the visitor management experience at your organization. How you greet visitors in your office sets the stage for the relationship you hope to have with them.
And before you say, “We don’t have any visitors,” consider that all of the people who enter your office but do not work there are visitors. This ranges from package delivery service people, to customers and clients, to potential new employees, to the district manager who works in an office the next county over. What kind of impression do you want all of these different people to have?
Why is the visitor experience so important? It is because actually physically experiencing an environment immerses you in it. You see whether it is frantic, merely busy or miraculously calm. You hear whether it is noisy or quiet. You witness people interacting in friendly, professional ways – or possibly in not so friendly or professional ways. You notice whether the office is clean or dirty, organized or unorganized.
This immersion allows you to make both logical and intuitive decisions about whether or not you like a place and its people. You also decide whether or not you want to do business with or otherwise spend more time in that environment. Colleges and universities know this and spend vast amounts of time, money and effort trying to get prospective students to campus, and then making that visit pleasant and memorable.
The visitor experience begins with being greeted, or possibly with not being greeted at all. What happens in your workplace? Most likely, one of the following greets your guests, though these options can work in combination:
In today’s modern office, not every workplace is staffed with a dedicated receptionist. Receptionists are valuable employees, as they provide personal interaction with visitors. However, few locations can afford to pay a staff person for the sole purpose of greeting and checking in visitors. Unless you process a larger number of visitors regularly, or have high security needs, hiring a receptionist or security guard is not likely a priority. If you have an employee sitting idly, your dollars are not being put to good use.
If you cannot name the person responsible for greeting visitors, it is likely that you have a semi-dedicated receptionist, someone with other responsibilities to keep them busy when they are not assisting guests. However, it is important to consider how often administrative assistants or office managers are pulled away from their desks, leaving behind an unstaffed reception area. On the other hand, how often are they interrupted so often by visitors that they aren’t getting their other duties accomplished in a timely manner?
An unstaffed reception area often leads to some or many employees assuming the role of the informal receptionist. When greeted by an unstaffed reception area, a guest is likely to either:
Whomever the visitor encounters ends up becoming the receptionist. This person’s work gets interrupted in order for them to assist the visitor in finding where they belong. If this person is unlucky enough to be stationed near the door, interruptions might occur very frequently, causing an incredible loss of productivity, and almost always a level of resentment. There is a good chance this person is looking for a job right now!
A digital visitor check-in kiosk has the advantage of freeing up employee time while still accomplishing the job of “greeting” and processing guest information. Flex workspaces, informal office environments and other locations that have no real need for a human receptionist might find using a visitor self-check-in kiosk to be the most effective method for handling visitors and connecting them with their hosts. While some may lament the lack of a human interaction that occurs with a digital device, it is important to remember that this method of checking in visitors can be used in conjunction with a human receptionist. Allowing guests to check themselves in via an iPad receptionist allows an administrative assistant to complete a phone call, pull a file, or otherwise finish a job.
Which of these options, or combination of options, you use may depend on the layout of your building and the type of business you are in. Consider what would make the most positive impression on your visitors while also allowing your employees to use their time and the organization’s money as efficiently as possible.
Each of the above methods of greeting guests is used by different organizations all over the world. It is important to assess whether or not the method you are using is providing the visitor experience you desire for your guests. Here are some things to look for.
The first thing a visitor is going to notice is the overall atmosphere of a location and the attitudes of the people in it. These play a big part in forming that important first impression. You want to make sure your visitors have professional, engaging first few moments. Some things to consider:
Part of the visitor experience is making the visitor certain that their needs are being met. While the first impression is important, getting the details in order to efficiently assist the guest is even more important. Whether done by a person or a digital registration app, every guest needs to have the following things done.
Once all the information has been collected from the guest, the next part of the visitor experience involves what happens after, both in the office and outside of it. A professional office will do its best to handle these tasks with finesse and efficiency.
The visitor experience starts before they even walk into your office, and concludes long after they’ve left. What happens when they arrive and how they are greeted, treated and connected with their hosts plays an important role in how they feel about your organization. You want to create a top-notch visitor experience so they walk away thinking, “I want to do business with these people.”