The receptionist retiring resulted in a search for a replacement hire or new approach to visitor management. Without a receptionist to greet visitors, employees close to the office entrance would have to pick up the slack and be frequently interrupted. A visitor would have difficulty in finding where they should go when they arrive. Maintaining visitor logs would be challenging. On the other hand, because of the low number of daily visitors to the office, hiring a full-time employee for this role was not seen .
Improve efficiency using technology while providing a user-friendly and dynamic way to manage their lobby at low recurring cost.
Many companies today want to stand out to their clients, be memorable, and move forward with the times. Jitasa is one such company. When they needed to replace their receptionist – who was retiring from the company – they started hunting for a different solution.
Because the number of visitors to the Jitasa office on any given day is not partially high, hiring a replacement receptionist to dedicate to this role was something management questioned. They considered the option of not filling the position at all and having office staff listen for visitors when they arrived. They determined fairly quickly that this approach would be disruptive to the staff and would also feel less professional for the visitor.
At one point during these discussions, a comment was made about hiring a robot to do the job. Someone took that idea and did a quick search on Google to see if there was a technology solution that actually addressed these issues. It wasn’t long before they were reviewing ALICE Receptionist.
“We didn’t really want to fill a full-time position for just fielding visitors so we looked at other options. When we found out there was an automated solution, we were pretty excited about that.” Says Aaron Tevis, Manager of Quality Assurance. Aaron received an MBA from Boise State and spent a year as a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints before joining Jitasa as an accountant seven years ago. “We looked at similar products, but it seemed like Alice Receptionist was better suited for our needs than the others.”
By choosing an automated receptionist solution like ALICE Receptionist, Jitasa no longer needed to dedicate a staff member to greet visitors. ALICE Receptionist provided the futuristic feel and user-friendly interface the company was searching for at a price that was more appropriate for the front desk duties it performed. With ALICE greeting visitors, providing information and connecting guest with employees, staff members could remain productive and focused.
Why ALICE? They wanted a high-tech, future forward solution that had a low recurring cost and involved a simple implementation process. ALICE gave the the ability to have a fully functional receptionist for much less than the cost of a traditional one. ALICE greeting and managing visitors allowed staff members to stay productive — only being interrupted when ALICE notified them that a visitor had arrived. ALICE could also track visitors activity on visitor reports that were self-maintained and easy to review.
They did have some reservations: how long would the hardware last? How often would new hardware have to be purchased? Was maintenance difficult or expensive? Do they go with a big wall mounted screen, or a sleek kiosk Where do they put it in the lobby so guests know to come and interact with ALICE? ALICE staff was on hand to help Jitasa answer these questions and give advice on the best options for their lobby. They even worked with staff to train them on how to manage the employee list, maps and other content on ALICE. In addition to the training, product software was included at no additional charge and ALICE’s support team is available to assist when needed.
The implementation process for ALICE was smooth. The ALICE system was preconfigured and tested prior to being sent to Jitasa. When ALICE arrived, Jitasa simply needed to plug in the 24” all In One Nye desktop and work with the ALICE Support team to finalize configuration settings and testing once the system was connected to their network. It was an easy process. With ALICE’s image gallery widget configured to show guests the building layout, visitors are able to find where they need to go with ease. Ring groups were also added for guests that do not know who to see. Visitors simply click a “Receptionist” button that dials a list of staff members who are able to assist them.
Over $20k saved annually with no front desk staff and low subscription costs
Enhanced lobby space that looks professional and technologically advanced
Employees are more efficient, no longer leaving their desks to check for guests in the lobby
Easy set up and maintain
Improved visitor experience – visually dynamic and easy to use software
With ALICE Receptionist managing their lobby rather than a full-time employee, Jitasa is saving over $20,000 annually while simultaneously allowing their employees to be more efficient. Staff can continue working at their desk and are notified and connected with guests only when needed, eliminating multiple trips to the lobby and interruptions from salespersons and unexpected visitors. This allows employees to screen guests quickly and remain productive.
Clients of Jitasa are impressed with ALICE’s technologically advanced look and feel. Jitasa took advantage of ALICE’s highly configurable abilities and widgets, implementing the ALICE weather widget and a map of the building layout, providing guests with important information in easy to understand visuals
In summary, ALICE Receptionist has provided company employees with the ability to control how and when they interact with visitors without the need for hiring someone to direct traffic or putting additional duties onto their staff. With ALICE’s easy to use, visually dynamic technology, Jitasa has enhanced their lobby and visitor experiences while maintaining an efficient and productive work environment for staff members.
When Meissner purchased the new facility, they realized that the lobby would be downstairs and the offices would mostly be upstairs. A lobby management system was needed. Says Mike, “We didn’t think it would be fair to man the lobby with a person who would be isolated. Instead, we thought that automating the receptionist function would be a great idea. As we were planning the lobby, we did some research on the Internet and found the ALICE product, which led us to engage in several calls with the WinTech people.”
“I had the opportunity to be in Las Vegas for a conference and I stopped by the WinTech facility where they gave me an in-person demo. I was very happy with the product so we decided to get a touch-enabled device and purchase a license for ALICE. We then did an in-house proof of concept in our existing building.” By doing the proof of concept, Meissner learned that they could register ALICE directly with their Cisco VoIP telephone system. Basically, ALICE acts like a VoIP Phone, which simplifies things when planning a visitor check in system. “Because we did the proof of concept, we were able to tailor the system to our specific environment,” says Mike. “Then when it was time to install the system in our new building, it was quick. It took less than a day to install the system.”
Here’s how ALICE Receptionist visitor check in system works at Meissner: When you enter the lobby, the motion triggers a video prompt on the ALICE kiosk telling you to press the receptionist button. Then, using a video call, you are connected with the person in the receptionist role who puts you in contact with the appropriate employee. That role rotates among several administrative people. You then create a badge by entering your name and pressing the print button.
ALICE also has the ability to look up people and call them directly. A number of contact cards are displayed on the kiosk and the visitor simply touches the one for the person they are visiting. ALICE calls that employee directly from the lobby and, optionally, can initiate a two-way visual conversation, providing truly interactive visitor check in. As Mike puts it, “Our visitors and employees think ALICE is really cool.”
The ALICE software works off the shelf, but can be easily modified to tailor the look and feel of the kiosk. For example, Meissner added the functionality for visitors to sign out. The company needed a lobby management system which tracked when someone is in or out of the building. Since ALICE is the replacement for the manual visitor book, Meissner wanted to add the sign-out feature. Mike says, “We were able to add that feature ourselves. We really like the fact that any Windows developer is able to go in and make additions and modifications. It’s very flexible.”
“Working with the WinTech people is fantastic. They are responsive, they are friendly and they are knowledgeable. For example, we wanted to do the integration with our network directory services. We reached out to WinTech and discussed the functionality needed. They had a solution available and deployed it within a week. WinTech support people have definitely been a major factor in our success.”
In regards to return on investment of the new lobby management system, Mike says, “ALICE is effective because we don’t have to have a person manning the lobby. Even if we had a part-time receptionist it would cost us about $20,000 a year. The cost of the ALICE license and yearly proration of the cost of the kiosk is less than $2,000 a year. That gives us a payback of one to two months! ALICE is incredibly beneficial. I would highly recommend the ALICE system because we were able to accomplish what we wanted to do and it works perfectly. We’re a highly technical facility and reception is one of the tasks that we’ve automated. It’s been great to have been able to do this.”
Hobie Sheeder, Vice President Real Estate and Workplace Services, says, “We wanted to create lobby areas with a sophisticated, high-tech and innovative look and feel.” TiVo introduced a new workplace model in 2014, creating lobby areas called “Discovery Rooms”, which are secured vestibules that demonstrate various TiVo products and services, such as program guides, analytics, search and recommendation tools, and patents. TiVo wanted to give employees and visitors an experience that they call “Watch, Listen, and Play.” Says Hobie, “The concept was to have visitors come in and ‘discover’ what TiVo was all about. We also wanted our employees to experience TiVo in the same way with every office.” To maximize the efficiency of the Discovery Room, Sheeder started looking for a virtual visitor registration system and visitor induction software.
TiVo first became aware of ALICE Receptionist visitor registration system through a consultant who was helping to monitor and manage the content that streamed into the Discovery Room. Hobie says, “Our goal was to find a solution that was cutting-edge, and we felt that ALICE was the right product. “We did our due diligence with WinTech and had a lot of demonstrations. Whenever we saw ALICE in action, the team was very impressed and we agreed that it was a great solution.”
When a visitor enters the Discovery Room, a motion sensor triggers ALICE visitor induction software to display a welcoming person offering four options: Shipping, Deliveries, Office Management, and Office Directory. If a visitor is there to see an employee, they touch “Office Directory” and scroll through names to find that employee. They simply touch the name desired and ALICE calls that person. While they wait, they can experience the different components of the Discovery Room. Hobie states, “Both visitors and employees think that ALICE is helpful and welcoming.”
Hobie has high praise for WinTech, “I like the team that we work with. They are very responsive and proactive. We’ve got multiple build / remodel projects happening at TiVo, so it’s good to have them managing us and keeping us on track. They know the product really well. They’re very good at helping us troubleshoot whenever we come up against hurdles. When we started rolling out the ALICE product in Burbank and in Boston, two offices that do not have Lync, they came to the table with our IT, telecom and facilities teams and made ALICE work with our Avaya VoIP system.”
Hobie concludes, “There are two big reasons why I am satisfied with ALICE. First, WinTech itself is a great team. They care and they want things to be done right and they want the customer to be happy.
The second reason is the flow when you are actually using ALICE. It’s very easy. You don’t have to stand there and try and figure out what you’re supposed to do. It’s very user-friendly and makes us look great.”
Stone Energy was hit hard by the $60 per barrel drop in the price of crude oil. The reduction triggered investor sell-offs and the implementation of dramatic cost-cutting measures. Every operational budget was cut and headcount was reduced.
Brad Breaux, Manager of Infrastructure Services, says, “Whenever oil and gas prices fall, like they did in the middle of 2014, one of the first personnel cuts we make is the full-time receptionists at the remote office locations.” There is not a lot of foot traffic at the remote offices, but there is still a need for a visitor management system without having somebody actually sitting at the front desk.
Brad’s number one requirement was ease-of-use. He says, “To perform the receptionist functions, we needed something that would allow visitors to walk up to it and, without explanation, be able to use it. We were impressed enough with the way ALICE Receptionist functioned that we put it in production within a week. We didn’t evaluate anything else because ALICE immediately served the purpose we were looking for.” Stone Energy is using ALICE Receptionist at all four of its office locations. ALICE Receptionist visitor management system senses motion when someone walks into the lobby. An automated greeting is activated, and ALICE can even print a visitor’s badge.
ALICE Receptionist is tied to Stone Energy’s CISCO Unified Communications Manager (CallManager.) To Cisco, the ALICE Directory looks just like another node on the telephone network. When a visitor touches a name on the screen, ALICE places a call through Call Manager to the selected employee. For its content, Alice visitor management software is synced with Stone Energy’s existing Microsoft Active Directory. Whenever there is a change in the company staff, the names, titles, phone numbers and photos of the employee directory are automatically imported into Alice. Stone Energy has a desktop system with a 42-inch Elo touch screen mounted to the stand. Brad says, “It’s noticeable as soon as you walk into the lobby. It has our logo. It’s personalized to our company.”
“ALICE Receptionist has been a big win for us. The office managers’ workload in greeting and handling visitors has gone down quite a bit. Visitors love it because it is really easy to use. They just walk up to the screen, touch a button and get an immediate response.”
ALICE Receptionist visitor management system can handle reception functions at one tenth the cost of a full time employee. For companies in cost-cutting mode, like Stone Energy, the implementation of ALICE Receptionist has an immediate cost benefit. Brad concludes, “In the year and a half that we’ve been working with ALICE we have found the people at WinTech to be very personable and responsive. If I have a question, I get a call back within a few minutes. We get somebody that understands our network and our deployment. Whenever I call to get help, I don’t have to explain to them how it’s set up. They are responsive and personal, the two things that I enjoy the most about working with them. For us, ALICE was the right choice.”