So you’re thinking about replacing your paper logbook with an electronic system? Good! There are many many benefits to it.
Such a visitor management system consists of 2 applications: (i) an iPad on which visitors check in and (ii) the visitor logbook used by your reception team.
This article focuses on the characteristics of a great electronic visitor logbook. After reading this article, you’ll have a very good idea of what to look for in an electronic logbook.
The starting point of a great electronic logbook is a neat understanding of what the end user (in this case a receptionist) would like to achieve. In other words: What jobs does (s)he need to be done?
At Proxyclick, this notion, was next to the technological evolution, the main driving force behind two successive redesigns of our electronic visitor logbook. Over the last few years, we spoke with thousands of receptionists, our main dashboard users. These conversations shaped tremendously the design of our product.
So, what is the job of a receptionist at its core and what are the implications on a great electronic visitor logbook?
5 Jobs-to-be-done by the reception team…and their implications for great logbooks
1. Answer to diverse questions immediately
Receptionists need to answer to a diverse set of questions throughout their day: “Did they deliver my package?”, “Who returned badge number 887 the last?”, “Is my visitor here?” What makes the job of the receptionist so challenging is that these answers must be given immediately. There is no time to think and come back later with an answer.
Therefore, front desk officers (A) need the visitor information to be up-to-date instantly, (B) they must find the information quickly and (C) the system must be fast.
Making real-time information possible meant for us implementing real-time updates to the dashboard. For example, when a visitor checks in on the iPad, he immediately appears on the logbook, without the need to refresh.
Similarly, if the host replies to a check-in notification with “I’ll be there in 5 min”, that information appears immediately in the logbook for the receptionist to see.
Helping receptionists to get real time information is one of the most important features of an electronic visitor logbook
These seemingly unimportant details actually make a lot of difference in the life of a receptionist.
Receptionists also need to have different ways to get info quickly: a search field, quick date navigation, but also advanced filters by status or by any dimension you decide. For instance, visualizing which visitors are currently in Meeting Room “Paris” needs to be very fast (see video below).
Nothing is more annoying, than having to wait until a page loads, but even more so if somebody is waiting for you. So loading time is an important criteria too.
2. Be on top of things
As a receptionist, you need to have a good overview of your visitors. How many visitors are in the building, from which companies, how many visitors are expected in the next hour and so on. This is especially true for busy receptions.
The first version of our logbook displayed 5-6 visitors per screen. Although this was perfect for SMEs, we realized we needed to give receptionists at our larger clients “more space to work”.
We reduced the space taken by navigation menus on the left and the top of the visitor logbook and we reduced the size of visitor rows. Front desk officers can now view more visitors and columns per page, allowing a helicopter view on what is going on.
3. Reduce time of repetitive tasks
Time, as we learned, is the most valuable resource for receptionists. We know that receptionists sometimes can lose precious time in doing repetitive tasks.
This means that a good electronic logbook needs to make it very easy for receptionists to do bulk operations. For instance, in Proxyclick, instead of updating information one-by-one, multiple visitors can be selected (e.g. to pre-print badges or change their visitor status).
Furthermore, excel sheets with visitor information can be uploaded (e.g. if a group of visitors is expected). Our help center article has further tips and tricks for the reception.
4. Provide visitor information during an emergency
Fortunately, this part of the front desk officer’s job is very infrequent, yet so important. In case of emergency, the reception needs to be able to provide a list of people currently in the building. The visitor information on the list must be (A) accurate (B) up-to-date and (C) easily and quickly accessible.
Parts of the implications take place even before the receptionist looks at the dashboard. Accuracy of visitor information (e.g. avoiding typos) is improved when visitors check in via the iPad app.
As mentioned above, visitor information is pushed in real-time into the dashboard and is therefore always current. The fact that visitors can be checked out in different ways (dashboard, self-check-out on the iPad app, check-out email-reminders or automatic) helps to keep the list up-to-date as well.
To not lose valuable seconds searching for the emergency list, the list needs to be accessible from the main navigation. For instance, at Proxyclick, we added a clearly visible icon directly in the dashboard.
Emergency icon directly in dashboard
A printer-friendly format also allows the receptionist to print without configurations. This can be done from any computer connected to the Internet. No access to a computer? No problem, the list is also available on your smartphone.
5. Enforce specific process
No company is the same. Many of our clients want to know and/or collect highly specific information of their visitors during check-in. Some need to know the country of origin or whether they signed a certain NDA (More examples).
Therefore, the receptionist needs to access the relevant information and enforce a specific process (e.g. hand out helmets if visitors visit the manufacturing facilities).
We believe it is our client’s logbook and thus their columns, not ours. Receptionists can decide what they want to see and what not to see. Custom columns have been therefore another big improvement from version 2 to version 3 of the visitor logbook, together with the possibility to filter and add more columns if need be.
We hope this article helped you better understand what makes a great electronic visitor logbook.
Is our logbook perfect? Is our job done? Not quite.
We believe that the jobs-to-be-done approach is not a check-list, but rather a mindset that will hopefully also guide us in the future to make the right choices in our product design.
Another job-to-be-done of receptionists I see emerging is to anticipate the visitors of the day and plan better in advance (e.g. for events). I am already excited about what design changes this job may indicate.
Are you a receptionist? Let us know what other jobs-to-be-done we could integrate in our product design.