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We write articles mainly about visitor management, which helps you to know who is (or has been) in your facility. It is just part of an organization’s physical security processes that protect people and property within and around a building or campus.

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Do visitors enjoy their stay at your facility?

by Paul Kazlauskas

visitor badges, visitors in the lobby, visitor management

Facilities of all types should spend time developing a security policy for visitors. Whether you are a school, hospital, or business, it is important to think about what to do once a visitor of any type comes to your facility. Visitors can range from contractors to vendors to parents to volunteers, but regardless of the type of visitor, each facility should develop a plan for how to deal with them coming to the building.

A visitor management system (VMS) with visitor badges should be used so your employees can see an unfamiliar individual has been processed at the front desk and belongs in the facility. That visitor management system also helps the security department know how long the individual was in the facility, when they left, and who they came to visit. A lot of effort and planning goes into a security plan for what to do with individuals when they arrive on-site, but what about from the visitor’s point of view? Are their needs being addressed? Is there a way to improve communication so they are comfortable with what is expected of them and where they should go when they arrive?

Here are some ways to improve the experience of visitors when they come to visit your facility and reduce their anxiety or questions about what to do once they arrive:

Communicate with visitors before their planned visit. Some ideas include:

  • Directions for getting to the facility
  • Where to park
  • Which entrance to use
  • What to bring for their visit (e.g. a valid driver’s license)
  • What to say to security personnel they encounter

Once at the facility, provide signage explaining where to go.

  • Clearly label the entrance visitors are supposed to use.
  • Provide well-defined instructions on what to do to once inside (e.g. proceed to reception desk in the lobby for a visitor badge).
  • Post directions for registering with the visitor management system (if they are supposed to register themselves) and the reasons for this security protocol.

Create an inviting lobby.

  • Provide comfortable chairs or couches to sit on while they wait.
  • Offer refreshments.
  • Provide up-to-date reading materials.
  • If there is a TV, don’t have it with the volume too loud or tuned to something controversial (e.g. anything to do with politics).
  • Keep the visitor’s wait in the lobby as short as possible.

Don’t be late for your appointment with the visitor.

  • Set up an alert in your work email (or on your cell phone) that will give you a 15-minute warning that your meeting is coming up. That way, you’ll be able to wrap up a previous meeting, project, or discussion with plenty of time to get to your visitor and not let them feel like they may have been forgotten.
  • Some visitor management systems also allow for notifications to the host once an expected visitor has signed into the VMS. Combined with the previous bullet, this functionality can be utilized as a last-minute notification to get to the lobby quickly to meet your visitor.

Follow up after the visit

  • After the visit, email or call your visitor to ask how they felt about their experience and their interaction with your visitor management protocol. 
    • Did they know where to go and what was expected of them?
    • Are there any areas for improvement in the visitor experience of coming the facility?
  • This tactic is rarely used today, but the effort will show your visitor that your facility really cares about their experience.

How else can facilities of all types improve the experience of visitors? Please join the conversation and add your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.

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Posted on 1/17/2018

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