Switching to a modern visitor management system may seem like a no-brainer, especially for people who want their workplaces to look and feel sophisticated.
It’s clear that having your visitors check in via a sleek touchscreen tablet — or even simply using their personal devices to check in in completely contactlessly — is much cooler than being handed a clipboard with a ballpoint pen attached with a chain.
Because signing into the lobby is often one of the first things that visitors do, it’s important to make a good impression.
But you shouldn’t necessarily rush into adopting a digital visitor management system for your office. Their advanced automation and safety features can actually cause confusion and even open your business up to legal risks if you aren’t careful.
Here are four signs that your office isn’t ready for a digital guest-check-in system (and how to make sure you’re ready).
1. You haven’t mapped out ideal check-in procedures for each visit type
If you’re unclear on just which visitors need to formally check into the office and what information each type of visitor needs to provide, it’s too early to introduce a digital guest check-in system.
For example, will you have the people making routine deliveries sign in? When others arrive for a meeting, will you collect their personal contact information? What about office contractors who are on site to repair the copier or refill the vending machine — what information will they need to submit in the office lobby?
Asking for too much unnecessary information will frustrate visitors, create delays in the lobby, and cause confusion and extra work for your front desk staff. But if you neglect to collect the key information that you need from visitors, there’s little point in having the digital guest check-in system at all.
You essentially need to know the “why” behind each piece of information that you’re collecting from each type of visitor. For most offices, the “whys” of visitor data collection boil down to these points:
- Safety: Collecting personal information and contact information for each visitor means that visitors can be accounted for in case of an emergency evacuation of the office. It may also help ensure that visitors stick to the areas of the office where they are qualified to go (for example, staying off of a manufacturing floor).
- Office administration: Keeping track of when and why people visit the office helps your staff manage the office more effectively. Office managers can use visitor data to improve staffing levels, supplies, and office design.
- Security: Checking and verifying the credentials of visitors can help keep the wrong people (namely, criminals and corporate spies) out of your workplace. Taking visitor photos can ensure that visitor badges are valid and help confirm that each visitor is indeed who they say they are.
- Compliance: Some industry regulations require companies to keep clear visitor records in order to demonstrate that they’re taking steps to keep their facilities safe and secure.
Those are just some common reasons that organizations decide to collect visitor data. Assessing your bigger-picture objectives will help you design the most effective (and considerate) check-in processes for everyone.
2. You don’t know how privacy regulations may affect your data collection
Here’s another reason to be thoughtful and deliberate about designing your visitor check-in processes: Collecting too much visitor personal info indiscriminately could actually get your company into legal trouble.
Some governments are getting serious about protecting consumer privacy and passing laws that require businesses to treat consumer information with greater care and responsibility.
That generally means collecting only the information you actually need, making sure to delete it once you don’t need it anymore, and giving people the ability to opt out of having their personal information collected.
We explain some of the finer points of these privacy laws in our post on how the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulation has affected visitor check in, but it’s worth noting that similar regulations are well on their way to being adopted in the United States — and already have been adopted in states like California.
For these reasons, you shouldn’t start collecting visitor information until you have a good process in place to protect visitor data.
3. You haven’t clarified employee responsibilities regarding visitors
Digital visitor management systems like The Receptionist are capable of much more than collecting and displaying visitor data in a sophisticated way.
These systems are also equipped with notification features that can alert employees when their visitors have arrived. This streamlines the check-in process and keeps front desk managers from having to repeatedly stop what they’re doing to contact employees about their guests.
Employees may also pre-register guests to make their time in the lobby as brief as possible, which can be an important perk in the COVID-19 era since people want to limit their time spent in indoor communal spaces.
Systems like The Receptionist also have features that will notify an entire group of employees when a certain type of visitor arrives. For example, it may notify everyone in the HR department when a job interview candidate checks in. Users can also set up backup contacts if the first person designated to receive the guest doesn’t respond to the notification in an appropriate amount of time.
If you don’t have a plan to take advantage of these features, you’ll be wasting part of your investment in visitor management software. Plus, neglecting to set up these features properly may cause confusion among the front desk staff and employees about whose responsibility it is to officially register and welcome guests.
4. You haven’t nominated a “director of first impressions”
All of the factors we just mentioned (classification of office guests, observing best practices for privacy, and establishing guest responsibilities internally) will change the guest check-in system over time. Employees will come and go, and notification settings within the visitor management system will need to be updated accordingly. Your company will change and grow, too, which means that new types of people may come to visit regularly, and you’ll need to modify check-in processes.
The best way to make sure your guest check-in system continues to reflect the needs of your office is to make it someone’s official job responsibility. In our post The Case for Hiring a “Director of First Impressions,” we suggest that many offices can benefit from hiring someone exclusively for this role.
Here are other responsibilities beyond check-in that tie into the work of guest management:
- Understanding the legal aspect of guest management (such as making sure certain waivers are signed or safety videos are viewed before a visitor gains access).
- Making sure that emergency evacuation procedures are updated and understood by staff and visitors.
- Making sure that lobby supplies (refreshments, coffee, water) are always ready to go.
- Keeping the front office design updated and brand-aligned, such as with seasonal decor or new furniture.
All that said, if your office is too small to warrant putting someone in this position exclusively, you can certainly add the responsibility to another employee’s plate. The most important thing is that someone takes ownership of the success of the guest check-in systems.Someone on your team should take ownership of the success of your office’s guest check-in system. Click To Tweet
Is Your Office Ready for a Digital Guest Check-In System?
If you’re feeling good about your office’s level of readiness for a digital check-in system, the next step is to start checking out specific options.
If this describes you, we hope you reach out to us at The Receptionist for iPad.
At The Receptionist, we pride ourselves on being one of the top-reviewed digital guest check-in systems on the market — thanks to our amazing customer support. We also offer a fully featured, obligation-free, 14-day free trial so you can try the program for yourself.
We hope to hear from you soon!
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