When putting a process to your visitor management system, when a visitor to your organization has signed in, accomplished something amazing - or maybe just had lunch - with one of your staff, and then signed out... Do you keep the visitor log?
Over the course of this series, we’ve discussed all the important steps of having a visitor management process. The final piece of an efficient process occurs almost completely outside the visitor’s experience. While the visitor is aware of signing in and signing out, whether or not you keep a record of visitors is completely at the discretion of your organization. There are definite benefits to keeping a visitor log.
Why keep a visitor log?
There are some distinct advantages to keeping a visitor log. You never know when you might need to reference the information. Here are some possible reasons and scenarios.
- Visitor Recall: Some employees meet with LOTS of people: salespeople, job candidates in a low unemployment market, vendors crucial to delivering a great product, potential and current clients, maintenance workers and even key staff from other sites. If they had an unfamiliar walk-in visitor and did not get the name or contact information of that person – or misplaced it – a visitor log can fill in the gap. Categorizing every visitors correctly in your CRM database and following up can be crucial for sales and relationship building.
- Following Up with Visitors: Perhaps you wish to send a message to certain visitors. For example, if you run a service organization, you might wish to send a survey after visitor depart your facility. The insights and data they provide will allow for continuous improvement. Or, perhaps you hosted a grand opening party or Meetup event. You might wish to recap the event to reinforce the good feelings or cause. With a properly built and maintained visitor log you can automate these tasks.
- Crime Investigation: If you know exactly when a visitor checked in and out of your facility, it can greatly assist with the investigation of a crime. If even the pizza delivery person must sign in and out, but for some reason spent an hour in your facility on the same day property was stolen, that is suspicious. The crime need not even be committed at your organization. If law enforcement is tracking the movements of a suspect or a victim, as in this case, the information of whether they entered your premises could be vital.
Digital vs. Paper
Most visitor logs are going to be in one of two forms: a paper log that people sign in and out of, or a digital record.
In our increasingly digital world, it is hard to believe that paper logbooks still exist. There are a number of drawbacks to paper visitor records.
- Bad handwriting can make them impossible to read.
- Unless closely monitored, it is easier for a person to fake entries, in particular the check-in and check-out times. It is also easy to bypass altogether.
- They take up a lot of space.
- They can’t be sorted by name or otherwise easily searched.
- They can be sorted by any field, including name, date, time of check-in or check-out, host name or more. All of the visitor’s info is easy to read.
- They can be searched quickly and efficiently by computer.
- They take up only a small amount of digital storage space.
- They can store other records with the log, like non-disclosure agreements and waivers.
- The time is logged automatically by the electronic device, and therefore the time cannot be falsified.
How Long to Keep Records?
When it comes to keeping organizational records, we often fall into two camps.
- Throw Everything Out: It frees up a lot of physical and mental space. (There is a reason Marie Kondo is so popular.) However, if you throw out records prematurely, you could find yourself needing them for reference; financial audits are the perfect example.
- Keeping Everything Forever: This can be beneficial when you need to reference information, assuming the records are kept in an organized system. If, however, you keep everything indefinitely AND your system is disorganized, you might as well just take a bulldozer to your files.
As is usually the case, the best scenario is somewhere in the middle: you may have reason to go back in the records two, five or ten years, depending on your organization’s needs.
If you are keeping paper records, it is likely they will either be thrown out long before this, or filed away in a manner that it is unlikely to be retrieved. Digital records can be automatically archived or deleted after a certain length of time. Even if you choose never to delete the records, they take up so little space that keeping them will be no hassle at all.
Wrapping it all up
Keeping a visitor log, preferably in digital form, is the final step in a comprehensive visitor management process. A guest is greeted, identified, signs in, meets up with the host and signs out. Then, the log of these visits is filed away to the benefit of all the different parties who might have need of them. It is the final link in the chain of a successful visit and an efficient process.