~~~This is part 2 of our series on the visitor management process~~~
When visitors arrive in your place of work, how do you find out who they are and what their business is? Identifying visitors is an important step in the visitor management process. Once you have this valuable piece of information you can create a great visitor experience. Not having it though could cause you to steer a guest the wrong direction, or allow someone onto the premise who should not be there.
In Part One of this series, we described how important it is to simply greet guests and make them feel comfortable. Once this is accomplished, the next step in the process is to determine who they are, what type of guest they are, and how best to meet their needs.
Organizations have varying levels for how they need or want to greet guests, and it often depends on the type of business that person has come to accomplish. You might be thinking, “My organization doesn’t have any visitors,” but you’d be wrong. Even the most insular of organizations will have people from outside show up from time to time. Consider the following types of visitors:
- Task-oriented visitors: These include postal workers and delivery personnel, maintenance workers, building and code inspectors. These are people who arrive with a set task that must be done at your location (e.g. dropping off a pizza, painting an office, checking the smoke detectors). They are often paid (or tipped) per task so they will leave quickly once it is complete.
- Important guests: Prospective and current clients or donors, prospective and current vendors, management visiting from the head office, contacts from a related firm, etc., are all important guests. Anyone who your organization wants to have an ongoing, positive relationship with needs to have special care taken to ensure they feel welcome and are treated accordingly.
- Casual visitors: These are visitors who don’t plan to stay long do business, but need to know how to get where they are going. Consider hospitals, who have people stop in to visit patients all the time. Colleges have family visiting students on campus. Friends and family of employees also fall into this category; the manager’s spouse might show up to take her out to lunch.
- Visitor-visitors: This might seem like a no-brainer, but places like museums, hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, and retail are designed to draw people in and welcome those who may only ever be there once.
Starting the Conversation
Once a visitor walks in the door, how do you find out what they need?
If you are employing a full-time receptionist to greet people, the logical next step is to ask the person who they are, and what they are there to accomplish. With a person at the door, a simple, “How may I help you?” will start the conversation, though other questions may be needed. Depending upon the security needs of your organization, you might require a guest to show an I.D., fill out forms, create a and explain their business.
What happens if the receptionist is busy on the phone when a guest arrives? Or if you don’t have a dedicated receptionist, and the person nearest the door is engaged in other tasks?
People aren’t the only way to ask guests what they need. More and more offices are using iPad receptionists to allow visitors to check in themselves, whether they employ a receptionist or not. If the receptionist is tied up on the phone but can pause long enough to point a guest to an automated reception kiosk, the guest can continue the visitor registration process instead of waiting around. Guests of all kinds don’t like to wait and appreciate the ability to be proactive instead of inactive.
A reception application might ask the following questions:
- Your Name
- The name of the person you are meeting, if applicable
- The purpose for your visit
Once the information is obtained, the receptionist or the kiosk can either direct the guest to the appropriate location, or contact the appropriate person to come meet the guest.
Conclusion: This is Mission-Critical Information
Unless they are lost and only walked in to get directions to somewhere else, every visitor who enters your organization is there for a specific purpose. However the person is greeted, finding out the reason for their visit is mission-critical to successfully moving them along on their journey. Your method for identifying them, whether a person or a digital visitor management system, needs to have the necessary skills to politely and effectively gather this key information. Then, they must be intelligent enough to guide the visitor to their next step.
Only after you have successfully identified the visitor and their purpose can both your visitor and your organization continue the tasks that keep you in business.