Cross-skilling security and front-of-house employees requires balance that gives prominence to customer service while guaranteeing security functions are not diluted, says Chiara Di Rienzo.
06 November 2018 | Chiara Di Rienzo
One of the best ways to use training to add value is by cross-skilling security and front-of-house (FoH) staff.
This creates an efficient and customer-centric workforce, but care must be taken not to compromise a site's security.
Acuity provides combined security and professional reception services at the British Medical Association's (BMA) HQ in London, and the contract is an excellent example of how a multiskilled team allows the site to function at its best.
The HQ draws 1,500 visitors a day through three main entrances, from couples getting married to journalists and corporate clients. This requires a coordinated, well-trained and highly skilled FoH and security delivery.
Reception and security teams are linked in specific areas. They are tasked with maintaining a secure working environment for employees, members and visitors, and ensuring that all who enter the building receive a five-star hotel-style welcome, and are processed efficiently.
Providing customer service and 'first impression training' to security officers will ensure that standards are consistent. But it's also vital for reception teams to be trained in key security skills through conflict management training and Project Griffin (City-of-London-based counter terror initiative), for example. This will enable teams to work better together.
A bespoke training plan was designed for the BMA, which includes leadership and coaching skills, change management, customer service, communication, and first impression training.
Lobby brand ambassador
A lobby ambassador role in the security team ensures that there is a dedicated point of contact between the two teams who understands the customer service requirements of the reception teams while also wearing a 'security hat'.
Communication is arguably most crucial during handovers so that events which have happened or are expected to happen during a shift are properly communicated. At the BMA, security officers often cover the reception after business hours; keeping service standards consistent is vital.
This is often unstructured and helping the team understand exactly what data should be passed on and how best to record it is beneficial. Every building is different so this process would be need to be customised for each site and reviewed regularly.
Staffing levels & checklists
We studied the daily footfall at the BMA, looking at peaks and troughs and understanding visitor activity, as well as the opening and closing requirements for the building.
Using data from the visitor management system/events software, we've created detailed staff resourcing plans that ensure essential FoH and security presence, and allows the team to deliver the BMA brand experience at all times.
We have also been able to review specific job tasks undertaken by the FoH and security teams to eliminate duplication. Opening and closing checklists is crucial for FMs to make sure security officers and receptionists follow specific steps in shared areas so the workload is better distributed. This is especially vital in staff handover periods. Common themes for any FM managing a service include:
Verifying security and welcome processes;
Getting teams service-ready for arrivals, events, security issues, fire/safety tests;
Liaising about any meetings, events and issues; and
Resolving issues at handover.
A thorough audit
An audit will specify the client's vision and goals, outlining objectives, an implementation plan and a service level agreement -essential to determine the cross-skilling process.
Chiara Di Rienzo is director of Acuity, the Axis Group's FoH division