At some point in our lives, we have arrived in an office or facility that requires us to register ourselves. We have all stood there, sometimes just plainly waiting for the front desk receptionist to return to their seat so that they can help us sign-in.
With the COVID situation getting better in Australia at least (yay!), there are several visitor sign-in systems that we have definitely encountered. Visitor sign-in systems are definitely a necessity in today’s context, given that visitors’ details are needed for contact tracing. Other than having a front desk receptionist, there are several visitor sign-in systems which organisations can adopt to ensure smooth onboarding of visitors.
Types of Visitor Sign-in Systems
With so many systems in place, let’s now break down the different types of visitor sign-in systems as well as their advantages and disadvantages. They are:
- A dedicated front desk receptionist
- A visitor log book – Pen and Paper
- A security guard
- Locked doors and entrances
- Visitor sign-in kiosks
Dedicated front desk receptionist
One of the visitor sign-in systems is having a dedicated front desk receptionist. The main responsibility of the front desk receptionist is to greet, welcome and direct visitors when they arrive. On top of this, they also have to receive and forward phone calls and organise the daily mail coming in.
With a dedicated front desk receptionist as a visitor sign-in system, this means that there will be regular staffing and visitors will be less likely to be faced with an empty desk upon arrival which can be confusing and off-putting for visitors.
With the front desk receptionist, visitors will not be left wandering around. Organisations will no longer face the security and safety issue of visitors wandering off into the office.
Besides that, having a visitor sign-in system that is human also means that a friendly face will greet visitors! This addition of a personal touch can make a good impression on visitors and make them feel welcome. Increased connectivity between visitors and your organisation, making them think that they are well taken care of.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides to having a dedicated receptionist as a visitor sign-in system.
First, hiring a person whose only job is to assist visitors can be a costly proposition for some organisations, especially those of a smaller scale. In order to optimise the company budget, most organisations prefer to hire people who can create a more considerable impact rather than just attend to visitors.
Even with the COVID situation improving bit by bit, some organisations are taking the safer approach – restricting the number of visitors allowed into the building. This does not justify the cost of hiring a receptionist for them to just attend to a few visitors each day. Who wants to hire a person to sit idle at the front desk?
A visitor logbook is a visitor sign-in system that requires the use of pen and paper. The pen and paper are the original visitor sign-in system. This has been around for many years. With this system, visitors are required to self sign-in, noting down their particulars before they enter the building.
There are definitely benefits to using a visitor sign-in system that is so old-school. Everyone is familiar with the good ole pen and paper. It is easy for visitors or receptionists to use with minimal training needed. With this being pretty much self-explanatory, staff can just point out to the register, and visitors can sign themselves in.
Since it is not about using new technology, there is nothing too complicated and it is low cost. This manual visitor sign-in system is nothing more than a book. As there is no need for software, organisations can save money on licensing fees or additional system components. Also, a visitor logbook takes up very little space at the front desk and requires no power source.
One of the biggest cons of using a visitor logbook is the lack of confidentiality. Most of the time, visitor logbooks are exposed, which can reveal your organisation’s visitors’ information for anyone wandering around to see. This can cause security and safety issues as well.
Since manual visitor sign-in systems are not able to add photos to the visitor badge, the organisation can’t verify if the visitor is the person who they say they are, further jeopardising the organisation’s safety. Besides, records collected through this method are often unreliable due to the lack of legible signatures, and approximation on times.
Sometimes, organisations also double up their security guard to help visitors sign in. For organisations who have a mind toward security issues, having a security guard posted at the entrance of the building or office might be a strong consideration. Being responsible for the security of the building, it is a no-brainer for some organisations to use their security guard as a visitor sign-in system as well.
The most significant advantage of having a security guard as a visitor sign-in system is that they are more likely to have undergone extra training and would know how to handle unwelcomed visitors. They would also learn how to spot suspicious behaviour and deal with other emergency situations, ensuring the safety of everyone in the organisation.
Further, having a security guard projects a professional aura and helps protect the organisation brand.
As a security guard is in many ways similar to having a dedicated front desk receptionist, albeit a more specialised one, one of the main disadvantages is cost. By hiring a security guard as a visitor sign-in system, it will most probably cost more than having a dedicated receptionist. This is because security guards would need to undergo formal training.
With the primary responsibility of the security guard being to safeguard the safety of the building, signing in visitors is technically not in their main job scope. They are also not necessarily trained to attend to visitors. This lack of focus and priority on signing in visitors may result in an unpleasant experience for the visitor.
Locked doors and entrances
Another visitor sign-in system is using locked doors and entrances that allow visitors to come in with visitor passes.
Some office and apartment buildings do utilise locked doors and entrances. Visitors are then required to hit the doorbell and speak through an intercom. They will only be allowed to enter when staff approves of them and let them in. This visitor sign-in system is often used simultaneously with a security guard or a dedicated front desk receptionist.
One of the perks of having locked doors and entrances as a visitor sign-in system is that it is semi-automated, making it easy to use. With this, there is no need to have any staff operate the counter, which saves some cost.
Further, it is also beneficial towards the organisation’s safety, and security. This is as an alarm will be set off when there are uninvited visitors. Also, people in the building or organisation have control of who they let into the building. This ensures every visitor will be accounted for.
Although being semi-automated is a significant advantage of locked doors and entrances, it is also one of the biggest cons. With the whole visitor process not being automated, people from the building will still have to come down and receive visitors. This makes it more troublesome as only authorised people can access the building.
As with all sorts of technology, there is always a chance that it will malfunction or break down. In this case, it might take longer than usual to bring visitors in, causing them to feel frustrated and unhappy.
This is also not a fool-proof visitor sign-in system. This can be easily defeated when an unwelcomed guest follows an authorised visitor through the locked doors and entrance. To ensure that this system is entirely secure, organisations will still need to appoint a staff to monitor to prevent unapproved access.
Visitor sign-in kiosk
Visitor sign-in kiosk is a visitor sign-in system that is entirely automated. Such visitor sign-in kiosks usually come in the form of iPads, but some organisations opt for a kiosk made specifically for visitor management purposes.
Using this visitor sign-in system, visitors can check themselves in without the assistance of anyone in the building or organisation. Kiosks can also be stationed on a counter desk or even as a stand-alone device. These kiosks are increasingly used by aged care providers to manage their visitors.
First off, as the visitor sign-in kiosk is fully automated, it helps organisations make a better first impression. By letting visitors experience a seamless sign-in process, it helps cement a good first impression as they will feel welcomed and happy with the whole process. When an organisation opts to use a visitor sign-in kiosk as their visitor sign-in system, visitors will understand how valued they are.
Unlike having a receptionist or the security, the visitor sign-in kiosk is always there and always on. Sometimes, receptionists or security guards will have to attend to something else, leaving the front desk unattended. With this kiosk, visitors will never be left unattended.
As compared to the visitor logbook, this visitor sign-in system allows for visitor information to be stored digitally, which can also be further analysed if needed by the organisation. Organisations will be able to find out the times of peak periods so that they can prepare for an influx of visitors.
The visitor sign-in kiosk can sometimes be seen as impersonal. As the kiosk is the first contact visitors make upon entering the facility, visitors might feel that it lacks a human touch. However, this lack of human interaction might be a small problem for some. This is as visitors will be in contact with the person they are visiting after they sign in.
With every technological visitor sign-in system, it always comes with a cost. Organisations will have to purchase software licenses as well as maintain the kiosks regularly. Nonetheless, this cost is relative as the cost of hiring a receptionist may be even larger.
The onset of COVID has highlighted the crucial need for a visitor sign-in system for effective contact tracing. With so many different types of visitor sign-in systems available, organisations have to evaluate and consider their advantages and disadvantages along with the organisation’s needs before deciding which system they should go for.