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.”