You know that old saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression?”
That’s true with everyone you meet—and it’s also true with visitors to your office.
Guests and visitors who come to your office have expectations, and it’s up to you to meet them. The easiest way to do that is with a visitor management system that handles the entire experience from when your guest steps off the elevator to when they head back out the door, plus everything in between, like check-in, security, and navigation.
If you ever have visitors or guests coming into your office, you need a visitor management system. But what if you’re not sure how to choose one that’s right for your office needs?
Visitor management systems can come with a lot of features and functionality. Read on to learn about all the options, and to see how you can choose a system that has the right features for your needs.
Visitor Management System Basics
When beginning to wade through all the features that can come with a visitor management system, a good place to start is with the basics. And when we say “basics,” we mean these are the most basic requirements for a visitor management system to be worth your consideration at all. These are the must-haves—if you’re looking at a system and it can’t do even one of these things, move on.
Ease of Use
First and foremost, can you figure out how to use it? A visitor management system should be so user-friendly that your staff and visitors are able to navigate it with little-to-no training or assistance.
That means the system needs a clear interface that isn’t cluttered with text or icons. And the workflow as visitors go through the check-in process should be extremely clear, so anyone who visits your office can sign in quickly and easily and you make the first impression you want.
In our increasingly tech-heavy work environments, everyone has different preferences about notifications. Some people prefer email. Others prefer a phone call. Some would like a Slack DM. Some people are constantly connected as they work, and others like to put their heads down and work away with minimal distraction from incoming notifications.
That’s why any quality visitor management system should be able to notify employees of visitors in whatever way they prefer. And keep in mind that many people will likely want smartphone notifications when their visitors arrive, so you should look for a system that offers unlimited text notifications.
Installed solutions generally come with a hefty up-front price tag. That’s why the visitor management systems that you should be considering are cloud-based SaaS products.
Cloud-based software is simple to install. You aren’t required to perform any extra maintenance because software updates can happen automatically. And, with a cloud-based system, you can access your data from anywhere, not just inside the office. Just make sure your cloud-based system is GDPR compliant so all your data stays secure.
Most businesses make it a goal to grow over time. And your visitor management system won’t be a good fit if it can’t grow with you—all the way up to becoming a large enterprise. That’s why it’s important to find a system that’s scalable and can handle large-scale data. You’ll also want to look for a system that can work in multiple locations, so if your business spreads, you’ll still be able to have safe and secure visitor tracking across the entire organization, not just by location.
The last absolute must-have in your visitor management system is the ability to generate the reports you need to learn about your visitors. Those reports should be filterable by date and time, include real-time data, and be exportable in CSV or PDF formats so they can be distributed and analyzed by stakeholders across the organization.
While these are the absolute must-have features for a visitor management system, there are so many other features you should be considering.
Visitor Management System Essentials
Some features are so common in the highest quality visitor management systems, they’ve become essential to businesses investing in visitor management. At the end of the day, this software should be eliminating pain points and making life at your office easier, which is why you should consider all these essential features when looking for the right system.
Ability to Pre-Book Visitors
To keep the check-in process as streamlined as possible, it’s great to be able to pre-book visitors prior to their arrival to you office. It’s even better if your visitor management system integrates with Outlook so you can autofill guest contact information.
Customizable Check-In Workflows
Not all check-in processes are the same for all guests. A great visitor management system should increase office security and help automate the check-in process by providing necessary documents (like NDAs) as needed, and by printing guest badges automatically.
Instant Notification for Hosts
When visitors check in at your office, their hosts should be immediately notified, no matter where they are. A good visitor management system will have the capability to send a variety of different kinds of notifications: SMS, email, push notification, Slack DM, or even a phone call. And remember from the must-haves: Hosts need to be able to choose the type of notification that’s best for them and customize the system to reach them that way.
Reporting that Can Offer Valuable Insights
A visitor management system must be able to generate visitor reports, but it’s even better if those reports can be used to gain insights about your office’s visitors.
Being able to search dynamic reports by criteria like Visitor Type, Entry Time, Departure Time, and Access Authorization can help create a clear picture of things like peak visitor hours when your office might need increased security measures.
Visitor Photo Capture
Taking photos of visitors during their check-in process makes them instantly recognizable to their host and others within the office. This also increases security for the office, so photo capture is a great feature for the best visitor management systems to have.
If your visitor management system has all the features we’ve listed so far, you’re in good shape. But there’s still more that the best visitor management systems can do, so you might want to consider some of the more deluxe features as you’re looking for the right system to fit your office’s needs.
Deluxe Features for Visitor Management Systems
The best of the best in visitor management software will come with some deluxe features that aren’t strictly necessary, but will certainly improve the experience of using the system.
Integration With Other Software
Does your visitor management system integrate with software like Outlook and Office 365. What about Azure AD? Slack? Operate? OfficeRnD?
Visitor management systems should increase your office productivity, which means that if you already have systems and software in place, the visitor management system you choose should accommodate that, not the other way around. Look for a system that’s designed to integrate with all the systems you already use and save yourself (and everyone else in the office) the headache of having to change things up to accommodate a new system.
Cost-Effective Hardware Options
When purchasing SaaS software, there are usually ongoing monthly costs for leasing the system. The last thing you want to add to that is expensive hardware to run the system.
Look for a visitor management system that can be run on low-cost, common hardware, like any touch screen devices and computers you already have in your office. Avoid systems that require expensive proprietary software that will be costly to purchase and maintain.
Having your visitor management system stop working because you’ve reached a usage cap would be the opposite of productive. Even if you know exactly how much you’ll be using your system, you should still look for one with unlimited usage at a fair, flat price so your system can scale with your business as it grows.
More Features than Just Visitor Management
What if your visitor management system could offer your office so much more than just visitor management?
AskCody’s visitor management system and Welcome+ offer all the features above, plus a suite of other office solutions like meeting room management, meeting room displays and activity view, workplace central, office wayfinding, and insights and analytics. AskCody integrates seamlessly with Outlook and Office 365, is fully GDPR compliant so all your data stays as secure as your office, and all solutions are supported in eight major languages.
How to Choose the Right Visitor Management System
Finding a visitor management system that has all the features listed above is ideal. But at the end of the day, the right visitor management system for your office is the one that meets all of your office’s needs, and those won’t be the same for every customer.
To determine which features your office needs, there are a few steps you can take.
First, think about your visitors and your reception area. Consider what pain points currently exist. Put yourself in a visitor’s shoes and think about how you would perceive your office if you were a guest.
From there, assess your visitor management needs. What can you offer visitors to make the check-in process more comprehensive and seamless? How can you improve the impression your office gives to guests when they arrive? How can you keep track of guests and keep the office secure?
Once you have a clear picture of the challenges your office faces and what you need in a visitor management system, it’s time to start researching solutions. Refer back to the features list above to help evaluate systems as you consider them.
Choosing the right visitor management system isn’t easy, but ending up with a system that’s missing essential features will make life harder for your office, not easier. Using this checklist, finding a visitor management system that meets the needs of most offices should be a breeze.