As I visit many of the biggest offices around the world, I wonder “wow” what a nice office. And almost immediately that wow is replaced with angst as I get ready to go through the elaborate, unwelcome and quite frankly unnecessary sign-in process. Of course, my details will have to be captured and my movement within the building restricted for the duration and purpose of the visit. But is the visitor experience balanced with the security needs? And does it always serve the purpose?
So let’s start with what’s going on now.
On the one hand, there is the paper log book that the receptionist asks you to sign-in. While this is less painful, I don’t see the purpose of this. Once I sign in and the paper is clipped to my pouch and hung over my neck, there is nothing much to show that I have signed in. The security manager or a facilities manager wouldn’t be able to figure out “how many visitors” have visited my office over the course of the day, a week, month or a year and which of the buildings are most visited. And are there any visitor who shouldn’t be coming in. Well, one would assume that this is such a crucial piece of information that every security manager would beat others in the line to get their hands on. But seldom in practice.
On the other hand, it is overdone by security guards asking for name, address, telephone number, email address, company, ID proof, Laptop details, photograph, NDA, host name and purpose (11 individual pieces of information). And at the end of it, I get an incomprehensible printed pass. And it takes anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes to complete the whole process. In one financial centre in Mumbai, there is even a code sent to my phone which I had to repeat to sign-in. The visitor system is so inefficient and queued up all the time that I turn up at least an hour before to sign-in on time.
If sign-in is so exhausting, the sign-out process is even more complicated at a major FTSE 100 HQ. The little piece of paper unassumingly stuck around my neck the whole day had to be signed by my host when leaving the building. On one occasion, the host had left by the time I finished up with my work. And I was stuck for 15 minutes to get the all clear from the Security guards (luckily a gentlemen on his way out recognised me and signed me out).
It’s hardly surprising then that most visitors never bother to visit again owing to the poor Visitor experience. Now, imagine if the visitor was a potential customer, shareholder or investor?
Visitor sign-in should be simple, seamless and secure. In my opinion, all that is needed to capture the visitor details are just 4 fields. Name, Company, Telephone/Email and the Host. The phone or email should only be used for emergency alerts or help with sign-in quickly for repeat visitors. All additional details should be optional and used only when there is a definitive need. For instance, an NDA or photo may be essential for a research office but the same may not be required for a sales office. All other details should simply be done away with. For instance, getting the serial number of the visitor’s laptop is totally unnecessary and so is ID details. Minimal but essential data on Visitors will lead to better data protection and lower system costs.
I was personally fed up with the long queues, too many details, wasted papers, staring at the receptionist to make one more call to my host, and wasted opportunities. And that’s why we created Vistas.
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