Regardless of whether a business offers a service or product, it will have visitors at some point in time. Different visitors will have different needs; some may just need to ensure a delivery reaches the correct recipient, while others will return to the building regularly to clean or perform work for a company.
How an office or building decides to manage visitors can be as unique as the establishment itself. A number of businesses may already have a formal system in place, while others are comfortable greeting guests as they come.
There are multiple solutions for greeting and managing guests, but digital receptionists are proving to be increasingly valuable to a wide range of workplaces. We’ll explore why this is, and why this option could be a viable choice for you.
Traditional receptionists vs. digital receptionists
Traditionally, it has been up to people to help other guests who enter an office space or building. It can be very comforting to speak with another human being, especially if you are unfamiliar with where to go or who to ask for.
However, people need breaks which means the entrance or front desk may not always be supervised. Furthermore, not all companies have the budget to pay someone to manage guests full-time.
If resources are limited, bringing on a digital receptionist could be a reasonable option. A digital receptionist is usually a software system that is responsible for things like visitor sign ins, notifying hosts or employees about guest arrivals, offering directions and granting permissions.
There are several different types of digital receptionists to choose from; basic programs help people or companies that are apprehensive about technology, while intricate systems may provide businesses that deal with sensitive information additional peace of mind. Some programs will integrate with other access control features. Others may be a part of a larger office management software platform.
There are even mobile apps that enable visitors to check in and out using their own mobile devices. Visitors can simply scan a QR code on a poster or sign, and the app can alert a designated person every time a visitor arrives.
Combining people and technology, instead of replacing one with the other, is often the best strategy. However, there may not be a budget available to have both a traditional and digital receptionist. If that is the case, management is encouraged to consider which solution will provide the building or company with the most value for the cost. Think of this as an investment rather than an expense.
Benefits of using a digital receptionist
There will always be a demand for human receptionists, but adding a digital component to your visitor management process can increase customer satisfaction, safety and staff productivity, too.
- Improves the visitor experience
A good visitor management system ensures that guests are cared for as soon as they walk onto the premises. What might an interviewee think if no one helps them for several minutes after they arrive? Or, how would an important client feel if they can’t reach the person they’ve come to see? Poor first impressions can easily jeopardize valuable relationships.
A digital receptionist gives guests information that will help them understand what’s going to happen next. There is a point of contact they can access, even if no one else is around.
If the digital system has the ability to notify the appropriate staff member after they have signed in, guests don’t have to wait around hoping that they will be noticed.
To really make your company or facility stand out, try to find a program that allows for preregistration. This way, forms can be delivered to guests before their scheduled appointment. This significantly streamlines the check-in process. Once preregistration forms have been submitted, visitors that arrive onsite can either scan a QR code or speak to an employee to complete their check-in.
- Enhances safety
Maintaining a safe and secure work environment is important to every company. Not only does a preformatted digital sign-in system ensure all key information is collected from each guest, but some systems like Office Control will capture photos of guests. That way, even if someone is not entirely truthful about who they are, your company has a record of what this guest looks like. The system may work with an ID reader or business card scanner to record information even faster. Having an electronic way to capture visitor information ensures accuracy.
The program may be able to print visitor badges or cards on the spot, and that pass may come with limited authorizations so that guests can enter spaces that they are required to visit.
For example, a contractor is going to need access to different spaces than an interviewee. The system may be able to differentiate visitor types, and provide a different sign-in process, and permissions, based on the reason a person has come to the office.
Digital receptionists also help to keep visitors safer. Imagine if a fire started and everyone in the building was instructed to leave immediately. Guests probably wouldn’t know where to go. However, a digital receptionist could use the information that the guest submitted when they signed in to email or text them emergency evacuation instructions.
- Generates a database of useful information
When visitor information is stored digitally on a cloud, management can review day-to-day activities from any device that connects to the internet. But that comprehensive database can give them so much more.
Management can unlock useful insights and answers about how many visitors require parking, which companies or departments receive the most guests, how long guests are generally in the building, when guests are most likely to show up, and much more.
When decision-makers are connected to backend operations, they can see things that they may have overlooked before. Perhaps they didn’t understand how many people need guest parking. As a result, these leaders can make changes that will help provide better experiences for guests and employees.
- Frees up time for busy staff
A digital receptionist will give human staff more time to attend to other responsibilities. Instead of having guests approach an employee for help, or getting the person at the front desk to do all of the sign-ins, the digital receptionist will automate and streamline the check-in process and take care of simple guest needs.
Employees can and still should assist guests who have more complex requests or questions. Otherwise, they can focus on tasks and projects that cannot be completed by a software system. This ultimately saves the company or building time and money.
Visitor management helps create a safe and welcoming environment. There are several different types of visitor management systems to choose from, but combining people and software to assist guests is often the ideal solution.
A simple visitor management system combines technology, security, communication and analytics. An effective visitor management system is flexible, customizable, and integrates with your existing processes and software.
Having a digital receptionist at the front of your building or office makes your check-in process more efficient and accessible. Not only does it streamline the process for guests who are unfamiliar with the facility, but it also creates a valuable database for decision-makers and leaders.