Visitor Management Software and the Power of First Impressions
As a business, the first impression you make on visitors is crucial. In many cases, the initial point of contact they make with your business in person is at the front desk. This interaction is important in setting a tone for how that visitor will identify your business as a whole.
That’s why Gregory Blondeau, Founder and Director of Proxyclick, and his team designed a customizable and intuitive web-based software that manages office visitors from the time they walk in to the time they leave. His goal is to have the visitor management experience benefit both businesses and the visitors who interact with them.
At its core, visitor management seems to be about making a great first impression. As a business, how important is that first impression you give visitors and what exactly can visitor management do to enhance that?
Blondeau: You know the saying “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” It’s absolutely critical. Everyone has visited hotels, restaurants, and even offices where you’ve had a bad interaction at the front desk and that can ruin your meal, your stay, or your meeting. If someone is rude or not treating you well at the front desk, that can impact people’s overall experience of your company.
It’s very important to portray a good image. The opposite can also be true in that you always remember when you’ve been treated well. You remember when someone hands you a cappuccino because they know you drink cappuccinos. The positive is as strong as the negative in a sort of exponential way and that’s what we’ve tried to embed into our application.
We spent weeks developing and designing a really nice invitation email so when people receive it they say “wow, I’m impressed with the way I’m being welcomed at this company.”
Can visitor management software help create safer workplaces for employees?
Blondeau: Safety concerns that are easy to collect and identify with a visitor management system include if a certain person is on a watch list or if their license is up-to-date and valid. Is a particular person really who they claim to be? We have an I.D. match feature that allows you to compare a picture taken on an iPad to their I.D.
That doesn’t prevent people from entering the building, but it’s collecting data about the visitor to ensure they are who they say they are. They need to be authorized and certified people who have been signed in successfully. These are the type of security features we provide.
Speaking of security, there has been a host of new rules and regulations pertaining to personal data that have been introduced in recent years. Why do you think data protection has become a top priority for European companies?
Blondeau: Generally speaking, we’re much more sensitive to that here in Europe than in the U.S. Data privacy is also perceived differently in the U.S. than in Europe. I think what has made data protection even more of a priority for European companies is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
We have customers around the globe and the U.S. is our biggest market. Most of our U.S. clients are really satisfied having a European company handling their data because the GDPR is so strict and data privacy is so important in Europe. Our U.S. customers know it’s been ingrained into our offering.
We also have a standard feature which allows people to define the data retention period of a visitor. By default, it’s unlimited. That said, you can define it to six months, twelve months so the data is being deleted accordingly.
A lot of people who check-in at an office using visitor management systems are there for in-person meetings. With many workplaces adopting new ways of working, how do you see those having an impact on office interactions and visitor management?
Blondeau: I don’t think face-to-face meetings are going to disappear anytime soon. When we see the number of registered visits, we recently crossed 15 million visits. You will, in most cases, have to meet people face-to-face at some point in a business relationship even if they work remotely.
If you’re a large organization and you have sites around the world, there will always be an office where you go to meet your contact person. In that process, you will validate or collect data about people you work with. The backbone of check-ins and who is entering your offices all over the world will always be needed.
What do you see for the future of visitor management? What do you think it will look like over the next 10-15 years?
Blondeau: There will always be visitors, what will change is the way they are controlled, authorized or validated at the front desk. Most buildings today still use pen and paper and sometimes a security person will check your I.D. All of these interactions will change.
Businesses will move towards tablets and iPads instead of pen and paper. We already have customers using robots. The user interface, in that case, is not a tablet or iPad, it’s a robot. Face recognition, fingerprint recognition, eye recognition will all become standard. Your phone will even be able to be used as an I.D. to enter the building.
Whatever the user interface, you will always need to check if that visitor has a valid license to work on the site or if they’re on a watch list. You still need to collect that data somewhere.
Today, everywhere we go, gates are closed. We need to show that we are good people and then those will open. When I was younger, I could arrive at the airport about 40 minutes before the plane and today you need 1-2 hours for a national flight and even 3 hours for an international flight. Everywhere you go today, there are queues of people because they need to be checked — I think that can’t last.
In the future, all those gates will be open. You will be welcome everywhere, but the gates will close if you have bad intentions. It’s the opposite logic in a sense. Today, everything is closed to everyone and then it opens with good intentions.