As guests visit your business premises, you want to keep a record of their names, dates and times when they arrive and depart, their reasons for coming, and the people they are visiting.
Firms maintain visitor logs for a variety of reasons ranging from security requirements to sales information and even regulatory compliance.
Your primary choices boil down to two broad categories: a visitor sign-in sheet, a traditional method that uses a paper visitor logbook, or digital visitor management using virtual reception software, such as Greetly.
This article examines which is best based on cost, productivity, company size, post-visit follow-up, security, and efficiency.
Once upon a time businesses that wanted to keep track of their visitors opted for a visitor sign-in sheet where a receptionist (or other check-in personnel) asked visitors to jot down who they were visiting, their name, and the nature of their business. Fast forward to today where an office of any size has the affordable option of using a digital visitor management system where visitors enter their name into a tablet computer, and they’re on their way. Visitor sign-in sheet versus iPad or Android receptionist – which one wins?
Visitor Sign-in Sheet
On the surface, a paper visitor logbook costs just a few dollars. However, if the company expects usage, it requires the company pays a salary to a receptionist or other check-in personnel to oversee the visitor sign-in process. What happens when the reception is away? Before hours, after hours, or over lunch? Visitors often wander the building trying to locate the person they’re there to see which is disruptive and can compromise security.
Digital Visitor Management
With a virtual receptionist, like Greetly, a company of any size can maintain an electronic sign-in sheet at a very low cost each month. The digital management system doesn’t require breaks or vacations and never takes a sick day. Visitors check into the system safely and securely.
Security and Efficiency
Sheets of paper can get lost or stolen plus the handwriting is often difficult to decipher. The records are public because anyone who stops to sign the sheet can view everyone else’s name, and who they were there to see, as well. Every salesperson knows to look through the book to learn who they are competing against.
With a digital visitor management solution, there is no handwriting to decipher because visitors type their names on the electronic keyboard. It’s also completely private because there is no paper trail for every other visitor to see. And it’s more secure because there are no pieces of paper to steal or lose.
When using a traditional sign-in sheet, it’s often a bit chaotic at the front desk. For instance, when there’s a package delivery or a certain person needs to be tracked down, the offices located near the front desk are often disrupted while the right person is located.
A virtual receptionist app allows visitor logging by entering their name and the nature of their business and then the proper personnel is instantly alerted through text message, email, voice phone call, or even instant messaging tools like Slack. There are no requests made of personnel near the front to track down certain people. Also, the person who would traditionally serve as receptionist or check-in manager can be routed into a more productive role when they aren’t being used to check-in visitors.
Most businesses have to be big enough to afford a receptionist or admin to oversee reception. In addition to salary and benefits, hidden costs include office space, a computer, and other equipment so they can do their job.
Businesses of any size can use a highly affordable digital check-in system, and not be required to have a space dedicated solely to your business. If you share space with other businesses or use a popular coworking setup, a system like Greetly is a great option.
When visitors sign a sheet by hand it’s often illegible, visitors can forget to sign in altogether, or even leave off important contact information. And with traditional pen and paper, someone will have to enter that information, into a separate CRM system. This makes follow-up a hit-or-miss process.
With a digital system, there’s no hard-to-read handwriting, forgetting to sign in, or incomplete information. Great offers a robust legal document electronic signature feature that clearly associates signatures with the visitor's first name, last name, and email address. That document is then stored in a cloud-based visitor log and can easily be added to your CRM database. You can easily download the visitor data or use our Zapier integration to automate the process.
You have to wonder, does a paper visitor sign-in sheet actually serve any purpose? Or is it just a process for process’s sake?
It’s clear that a digital visitor management system like Greetly wins out over the traditional sign-in sheet for many reasons including cost, security, efficiency, productivity, and the usefulness of the data. A visitor check-in app is also a great way to impress your customers and show them how innovative your company is which can give you an advantage over competitors and help recruit great employees.