How do you create a better visitor flow in your office?
When someone visits your office, your top priority is to deliver an excellent experience so that your visitor will leave with a positive impression of your organization. There are many components to delivering a positive visitor experience, such as a welcoming reception and a clean and tidy office setting, but perhaps the most important component is managing the visitors’ path from the entrance to the exit.
Many organizations overlook the importance of it, but managing the visitors’ path can make a huge impact on how your visitor feels about your organization and their likelihood of referring others to you. If you care about your visitors, you must carefully consider the path they take from entering your doors to arriving at their desired destination to exiting your office and beyond.There are many components to delivering a positive visitor experience, but perhaps the most important component is managing the visitors’ path from the entrance to the exit. Click To Tweet
In this guide, we’ll discuss tips on how to create an efficient path for your in-office visitors.
Why Your Visitors’ Pathway Should Be Intentionally Designed
Before we get into the how let’s discuss the why. Why is it important for you to worry about the physical path that your visitor takes when in your office? Can traveling from point A to point B truly impact your visitor’s impression of your organization?
Absolutely. If you intentionally design the path that your visitors take through your office, you will reap the following benefits:
Walking into a new office building can be confusing for a first-time visitor. By mapping out the visitors’ movements through your office from the entrance to the exit you’ll be able to anticipate the optimal path for them to take. Having a pre-planned route in place will reduce or completely eliminate their initial confusion. Because you have taken the time to consider the best route that your visitors should take, you will be aware of possible points of confusion along the path and you can then place signs at those points to direct visitor before low-level panic takes over.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of security concerns affecting the modern place, ranging from workplace violence to personal privacy risks. One way to mitigate your vulnerability is by mapping out your visitors’ physical journey through your office. After all, having visitors wander around your office space by themselves is definitely not great for security.
In an ideal setting, you would escort the visitor from the reception area to their ultimate destination and also escort them out to the exit. However, you may not have the staff or the bandwidth to be able to personally escort each and every visitor who enters your office.
This is why it’s crucial for you to create the best path for your visitors ahead of time. If you’ve mapped out the ideal route for a visitor and have given them instructions with reinforced wayfinding signs on how to get there, you and your staff can immediately know if a visitor is off course.
You can also configure your office so that restricted areas are not directly accessible from the most common visitors’ paths. Careful visitor management will Improve your in-office security.
We’ve all experienced this: Wandering around an office aimlessly, from corridor after corridor. And after a while, all corridors start to look the same. Before you know it, the office space turns into a maze with the subtle feeling that, at any moment, a minotaur would pop out.
This is something you want to avoid when managing your visitors’ experience: Getting lost because it wastes time and increases frustration. All of the time that your visitors spend wandering down the hallways and possibly getting lost will impact your staff’s overall efficiency.
Consider how a guest who may have been lost for five minutes can throw off the rest of the day’s schedule and delay everyone else’s appointments. Not only will being lost negatively affect one visitor, but it can lead to unhappy visitors for the rest of the day.
Taking the time to plot out your visitors’ paths and ensure that they never get lost along the way can have a positive effect on your ability to see all of your visitors in a timely manner.
Make a Positive First Impression
Last but certainly not least, by simply mapping out your visitors’ path through your office, you can make a positive impression on your visitors. It’s the little things that show that an organization truly cares about the visitors’ experience.
Visitors may not be able to put their finger on exactly why they enjoyed their experience, but when you provide an easy and almost intuitive path from beginning to end, you will certainly positively influence your visitor’s impression of your organization.
By crafting every aspect of your visitors’ experience, you can minimize any negative experience.
How to Map an Efficient Visitor Pathway in Your Office
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of mapping out your visitors’ pathways in your office, let’s get practical. Here’s how to do it successfully:
Evaluate What’s Working and What’s Not Working
The first step is to take a cold, hard look at the current path(s) that your visitors take to get from point A to point B. Observe your visitors for at least a week to see the choices they make to get to their destination. You can also directly ask your visitor about their experience walking through your office space. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Is the most common path the best one?
- Are there any confusing points along the path that may cause your visitor to get turned around?
- Did they understand your current directions?
- Did they get frustrated along the way?
- Is the destination too far of a walk?
- Were there too many turns to take?
- Did they understand how to exit or were they confused upon departure?
All of these questions can provide necessary insight into your visitors’ journey. You can use their feedback to develop a better pathway for the future.
Create Visitor Personas
One great way to begin your journey to developing a better visitor path is by identifying each type of visitor you commonly welcome into your office. Once you’ve determined the visitor types, you can create visitor personas.
A visitor persona is a fictional representation of the actual visitor. So if your most common visitors are clients, delivery personnel, contractors, and employee hopefuls, you should have four different visitor personas for each visitor type.
For each persona, you’ll assign a fictional name and a set of demographics. (It’s a lot like a customer persona template if you’re familiar with that type of document.) The ultimate goal for creating a visitor persona is to clarify the purpose of the visitor’s journey, along with common frustrations or hindrances that may prevent them from reaching their destination successfully. For example, a potential frustration may be the lack of proper signage which can prevent a delivery person from knowing where to go to deliver a package.
Define the True Start of the Visitors’ Journey
It may be tempting to think so, but the visitors’ journey doesn’t begin when they enter your office doors. In fact, it begins before they arrive. If you operate in a shared office building, it begins before the visitor enters your office. They’ll need directions from the entrance to your office space.
But that’s still not the beginning.
The visitors’ path begins once they step out of their starting point, whether that’s their home or office. The directions from their point A to your office begin their journey. Don’t just rely on a third-party map, like Google Maps, to do all of the heavy liftings. This is especially true if your office is in a busy area that shares a common address with other offices. Be sure to provide additional information on how the visitor can reach other your destination, along with easily-identifiable landmarks. It may be useful to add a map drawing on your website or in the appointment confirmation email to eliminate any confusion that a visitor may have.
Once the visitor arrives, also make sure that they know how to navigate your parking situation, whether it’s a lot or deck. Some office buildings may need to have additional parking, especially if dealing with a smaller lot. If a lot is full and you have a second lot for overflow, be sure to include highly visible signs to let the visitor know where they may find additional parking.
Draw a Map
Earlier we mentioned the usefulness of drawing a map of your office space and putting that map on your website or in your appointment confirmation email. You can also draw a map of your office space and have that readily accessible to your visitors upon arrival. The visitor can check in via your visitor kiosk, and upon check-in receive instructions on how to proceed to their destination via the phone or a map on the kiosk screen.
If the path is particularly complicated, you may benefit by having a printed map located directly beside your check-in kiosk. Invite the visitor to take the map and use it to guide them through your office. Ideally, your map should have the visitors’ path marked.
In addition to a printed map, you can also post “You are here” maps in strategic spots throughout your office. Doing this will give your visitors a spatial awareness of where they are in your office and how close they may be to their ultimate destination.
When drawing a map, first decide on and then design the optimal path to every destination in your office. Next, draw the map as a guide to that path. It doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective.
It’s a best practice to choose one way in and one way out. Be sure that your staff knows the optimal path, in case they personally escort visitors from point A to point B. This prevents confusion if a visitor returns on a subsequent and needs to follow a map instead of being escorted.
Implement a Visitor Management System
One way to ensure that your visitor has a pleasant experience while navigating your office is by implementing a visitor management system. A visitor management system is a solution you can use to automate your visitors’ registration process. You can also use this system to track visitors as they enter your office and move throughout it.
A visitor management system that will include a check-in kiosk that’s located in the front of your office. This check-in kiosk will welcome your visitors and invite them to check in on their own without the need for a human receptionist. The check-in kiosk does not eliminate the need for your human receptionist, it simply frees them up to focus on higher-level tasks such as answering in-person questions and taking phone calls.
Not only will your visitor management system streamline the check-in process, but it will make it easier for you to provide standard directions to your visitors. Upon check-in, the kiosk can display directions to the visitors’ next destination, whether that destination is the waiting room or the spot where they will meet the host.
The visitors who opt to do contactless check-in can receive directions on their phones.
Implementing a visitor management system can positively impact your visitor’s impression of your organization.
Plan for Pit Stops
Not every visitor will follow the common path of heading to the reception area, checking in, going to the waiting room, and then proceeding to their ultimate destination. For some visitors, there will be deviations along the way. For example, a common deviation is a restroom stop.
When you’re making plans for your visitors’ path through your office don’t forget to account for these stops. It’s important that your visitors know where the restrooms are, but also where there may be a vending area, too.
Finally, your visitors should always know where the emergency exits are in case they need to make a quick detour and exit your office space safely. Use signage and your printed maps to highlight common pit stops and emergency exits for your visitors.
Prep the Waiting Room
Will your visitors wait in the reception area? If so, you have an opportunity to better prepare your visitors for their journey to their next destination. In addition to printed maps or the instructions that you may provide upon check-in, you can also include maps in the waiting area. These maps can serve as office orientation. They’ll help the visitor understand where in your office they are currently and where they can find the restroom and other important areas.
Use Wayfinding Signs
Once the visitor is on their path, they need helpful signs to let them know that they’re on the right path. Some visitors may prefer signs over maps. Having both will ensure that you accommodate the varied preferences of your visitors.
The most effective wayfinding signs are simple and easy to read at a glance. They may include directional arrows to clarify a path.
Empower Your Staff
Every member of your staff should be willing and able to help a lost visitor get to where they’re going. Not only should your staff know the best path to every destination in your office space, but they should also be comfortable with proactively approaching visitors who may seem lost on their path. Some visitors may be reticent to seek out the help of staff, which is why your staff should extend a helping hand if they witness a wandering visitor and not wait for the visitor to initiate contact. This is part of delivering an impeccable visitor experience because sometimes, despite our best efforts, the instructions may not be clear for every visitor.
One way to ensure that you’ve delivered an excellent visitor experience is by carefully designing your visitors’ pathway through your office. Start managing your visitor experience by implementing the above tips.
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