Doug Hewitson, the Managing Director of G4S Secure Solutions (UK) discusses first impressions and customer service. Doug writes: “It’s often said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Indeed, far too many companies discover this to their cost, when the wrong customer experience damages their reputation and their profits. In light of this, companies with front-line staff of some description will almost certainly be investing in customer service training to ensure they know exactly what is expected of them and can ensure customers are treated in the way they expect. This training can often make all the difference to the customer experience, whatever the reason for their visit.
“So why invest in similar training for security officers? Well, it is security staff who will often be the first point of contact when visitors arrive at any site, whether that involves simply welcoming them and checking tickets, or conducting detailed searches. Whatever security procedures are in place, security officers need to be able to fulfil them without sacrificing a warm welcome for the sake of efficiency. Unless that all-important first impression is a good one, visitors will still leave with a negative memory of the event, regardless of its quality.
“This training is certainly essential, but there is so much more that can be accomplished when security and customer service are brought together, in terms of both great first impressions and a higher standard of security. All companies appreciate the importance of both security and customer service, but for far too long they have been seen as mutually exclusive. It is only recently that forward-thinking security companies have begun exploring the possibilities of integrating them by broadening their officers’ skillsets.
“For example, it does not usually take an unreasonable amount of time to train security officers to the point they are able to answer questions from visitors during exhibitions, potentially even quite technical ones, depending on the nature of the event. This serves several purposes. Firstly, it ensures that there is always someone readily available should guests have any questions. Secondly, it allows security procedures to be more effectively integrated with other aspects of the event, such as stewarding and hospitality, leading to a more efficient operation.
“By bringing these two areas together, the end result is greater than the sum of its parts. Security officers are perfectly placed to deal with any emergencies, should they arise, yet this extra level of security actually enhances the customer experience rather than detracting from it. This can make all the difference to the customer experience at events like conferences and festivals, where visitors expect their experience to be safe and secure, but also relaxed and enjoyable.
“Even outside of events like this, extra customer service training for security officers will often prove to be an excellent investment. For example, in residential buildings, security officers can be trained to act as concierges, welcoming residents and providing a little extra help when it comes to things like carrying shopping bags to their front door. Indeed, any place of business that welcomes customers or visitors on a regular basis could benefit from this sort of training.
“Once again, it’s all about maintaining those all-important first impressions. Make them count!”
Doug Hewitson has over twenty-five years of experience in the security industry, having started out in 1987. He joined Securicor following its acquisition of Shorrocks in 1996, where he had been Regional Director for Scotland. After working as Area Director for Securicor in the North, Doug was appointed Managing Director of Securicor Aviation in 2001. The same year he became Managing Director of Securicor Security, serving until 2005 after which he worked on the integration of sectors following the merger of Group 4 and Securicor creating what is now G4S. He has been Group Managing Director of G4S Secure Solutions UK since February 2007 heading up the manned security arm of G4S in the United Kingdom.
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