The terms virtual receptionist, digital receptionist or video receptionist are often used in a confusing manner. Indeed, if you search for these terms, many times entirely different solutions will be showing, such as visitor management systems.
This blog is an attempt to de-clutter the lingo and try and explain the different ways the front-of-house has evolved in the past few years, and where possible, help you decide what the best solution for you is.
Visitor Login systems: The doctor will see you now
Visitor login systems are widespread and the chances are you have already used one: most GP practices now have them, for example. They are fully automated systems which aim to streamline the visitor flow to the building by entirely removing human interaction.
A visitor would typically walk to a tablet or small touchscreen and be taken through a simple workflow: who are they and who are they visiting? Visitors are then typically directed to a waiting area while their host is notified through text message or email, that their guest has arrived.
While this process typically can create some health and safety gaps (visitors are not typically logged out, though the better systems on the market address this problem), it remains a very cost-effective way to manage visitor flow. Though there is no human interaction, there absolutely is a space for these solutions. The market is full of cheap options at the low end, and there are also quite a few high-value operators such as Vpod, the quirky Bringme or Inventry, to name just a few.
The Digital Receptionist – more than a Virtual Receptionist
A Digital Reception system, often mistakenly called Virtual Receptionist (who are more typically telephone call-answering providers), instead keeps the human at the centre of the visitor experience. Through a process not dissimilar to a Zoom call, which we are now all familiar with, the guests interact with a real human being. The main difference with a traditional, manned Front-of-House experience is that the receptionist is not located behind the desk, but behind the screen and therefore, can be physically anywhere in the world.
Because they are in fact away from the actual front door, digital receptionists, or video receptionists, are not able to fully replicate the face-to-face experience one may find entering the lobby of a top law firm, for instance: they can welcome you in but cannot take your coat; they can invite you to sit but cannot make you coffee. However, most of the actual responsibilities, such as personally greeting a guest in a professional manner, signing them in, notifying the host of the guest’s arrival etc, are easily managed by remote staff through a good quality video interface. And even the coffee is an issue some suppliers are working on.
A front-of-house solution with significant cost savings.
The price point for such systems is typically a little higher than most visitor login systems, and there is a debate in the market on whether they can really replace on-site staff. Certainly, when it comes to cachet, or visitor (or sometimes management) expectations, while the interface can provide a “wow” factor, the added presence of a concierge on-site is hard to beat.
Nonetheless, the hugely significant cost savings when compared to a full time, dedicated member of staff, mean these solutions also have a market in buildings where either there is a restriction on the budget available (up to £50,000 per annum in Central London) or where space is an issue, for example, as digital solutions do not require a desk.
There are only three main solution providers active in the UK today for digital receptionist systems: Vgreet, Teleportel and Lares Digital. They each have their strengths and weaknesses and we will explore those in our next blog.
Here is a comparison of standard Visitor Login systems vs Digital Receptionist solutions
About Lares Digital
Our Digital Receptionist system represents the merging of human interaction with technology. We offer an internet-based Visitor Management System truly fit for the 21st century, combining front of house service with the rest of the building’s systems, delivering the same in-person interaction to visitors, through striking technology interfaces.
At Lares Digital, we follow the latest trends in PropTech to ensure our digital receptionist technology sets your building apart from your competition. Book a demo to visit one of our client sites and see for yourself how our digital receptionists work in practice.