You’ve heard of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and likely even have a special software to help you. It keeps track of all the various customers, clients, vendors, networking partners and members who you regularly connect with for business purposes. It sets you on the right path to build relationships. But do you have a Visitor Management System?
While many people give significant thought to how they are managing regular contacts, visitors might not always be given the same consideration. However, a visitor management system can be a crucial part of your CRM and security strategies.
A Visitor Management System (VMS) is a conscientious strategy and standard system for handling all the guests who visit your organization. Like contact relationship management, having a visitor management system takes your visitors’ experience to the next level, eliminating chance from the equation.
Having a system in place also helps your employees. Employees expect guests all the time, like colleagues visiting from another office, job candidates, vendor reps, local inspectors and food delivery personnel. If your employees know what their visitors’ experience will be like, they can prepare their guests for what to expect, as well as rest assured that the visitors will be taken care of.
A truly good VMS will have a number of different components to ensure that visitors of all types are handled with the appropriate level of care as desired by the organization.
Some organizations have taken care to ensure that certain visitors are greeted warmly and given the red carpet treatment. Hotels treat their guests well. Colleges greet prospective students with gifts and tours and pull out all the stops for potential donors.
But what about the boiler or telephone repair person? What about the pizza delivery gal? What about the person who wanders in off the street lost and needing directions? Will these people immediately receive the help they need? Will they be directed to their host or task with utmost efficiency?
A great visitor management system has a plan in place for each kind of visitor.
Visitors come into your organization for a reason. Whether they are there to repair the window or the meet with a top-level executive, a visitor has a mission upon entering. Your VMS is in place to help them move past the awkwardness of an unfamiliar location as quickly as possible.
Part of the goal of having a visitor management system is to keep your organization as secure as necessary. A set protocol for every guest and guest type is an important way to offer a higher level of security. Some ways to increase security include:
When truly used effectively, a visitor management system helps your organization thrive. All of the factors that we’ve just outlined set your organization up for improved relationships with the various visitors who are a part of your operation.
Most workplaces have some form of visitor management system in place, though it is not always one that has been consciously considered or formalized. There are several types of visitor management systems, and you’ve probably seen many versions.
Some workplaces are very loose about protocols. Informal rules for guests might exist, but are often broken. Some co-working locations and flex workspaces might fall into this category. A no-system location might look like this:
The visitor information desk in a museum is an example of a designated receptionist. This person’s primary job is to assist visitors in having a great experience. Hospitals also tend to have designated receptionists, both for patients checking in and for visitors coming to see a patient. Guests of employees may use a separate entrance and be greeted by a different person altogether. In many of these cases, visitors are required to check-in, and provide personal information that must be entered into a database.
A semi-dedicated receptionist greets and orients guests as part of their primary responsibilities. However, in many offices, such receptionists serve additional functions. Often, the face of an organization is the administrative assistant to a director or manager and is also responsible for handling this person’s schedule, typing letters and memos, and otherwise keeping the office organized. Visitors interrupt this person’s additional work. It is an expected interruption, but an interruption nonetheless.
As automation becomes more prevalent in so many areas of business, we are seeing the adoption of visitor check-in kiosks. You can now order your own food at McDonald’s, self-checkout at a number of grocery and superstores, and self-check-in at airports. There are definitely benefits to self-serve visitor registration.
When security is a higher priority – and it is becoming a higher priority all the time – a security guard might be the designated receptionist. Security guards often bring an authority presence to a building entrance. They may or may not require ID and log information into a visitor log, though doing so adds an additional layer of security. Additionally, some will provide guests with a designated visitor badge or card that provides access. One benefit to utilizing a security guard in such a capacity is their training; they may be more able to properly handle unwanted guests or visitors acting in a suspicious manner.
Museums, public gardens and many other locations may have some form of guest book. This is generally a fairly informal log, and not everyone signs in. On the other hand, some organizations require visitors to sign a paper logbook. Considering a paper log can be difficult to read and fill pages and pages, it is a rather inefficient way to track visitors and their purposes. It requires a person to scan or manually type the information into databases for data collection purposes. If the logs are stored for any period of time, they may take up boxes of space in a storage room.
When constructing a visitor management system, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an all-or-nothing approach. Many of the above systems can work in tandem with each other for optimal effectiveness. For instance, a self-serve kiosk with a semi-dedicated receptionist can offer efficiency for both the guest and the employee. An electronic visitor log that is maintained by a security office who requests ID offers great security.
No matter the size or structure of your organization, having a visitor management system in place can save you and your guests a lot of headache and time. When everyone knows what to do, how to do it and what to expect, things just run more smoothly. Your organization can benefit from improved relationships with all your visitors and from an organized approach to collecting visitor information. Your visitors will be pleased to achieve their purpose – meeting you and the members of your organization – in an efficient and welcoming manner.