Receptionists are the face of your business, but what if the tasks associated with this position are all automated? Amber Kempeneers, receptionist for a multi-tenant building, evolved into the position of Office Coordinator after the reception functions were automated. We sat down to hear her story about how it’s done.
Hi, Amber. So, what were your duties as a receptionist?
Well, I was mainly occupied with greeting visitors and suppliers, sorting the mail, receiving and sending parcels, taking/transferring phone calls, etc. Bringme’s accommodation in this building included the installation of a Bringme Box in the hall, which made handling parcels and greeting couriers and suppliers a thing of the past almost overnight.
How did the automation proceed?
This was done in several steps. After automating deliveries and parcels via the box, ‘Send & Collect’ was activated so that employees can send and return parcels from the box themselves too. As the reception is often used for handing over IT material, samples, contracts, car keys, etc., it was decided to place a second box in the centre of our building, which is purely used for these ‘internal logistics’ things. A lot of my daily tasks disappeared because of this, too.
Subsequently, all departments were instructed to digitise paper correspondence from customers and suppliers as much as possible. Even to the extent that, at a certain point, traditional mail was returned to the sender in order to oblige the supplier to work digitally. This is not only a good step for the environment, but it was a boring task that disappeared as well.
I’ve also seen a strong evolution in recent years with people communicating more by mail and less by phone. Therefore, we’ve decided to have the remaining phones consolidated into a professional call center so that the employees are not disturbed. Instead, they get an email stating who is trying to call them and why, so that they can schedule the call-back themselves. It’s a huge timesaver for me.
Which change had the greatest impact on you?
Of course, it’s a never-ending story, but the Bringme Desk, which was the last step in automating our reception, was a real nail-biter. Visitors can log in completely autonomously without assistance, employees are automatically notified, and the system is constantly reminding the employees so that they don’t keep their visitors waiting.
We used to have a tablet for the visitors’ reception, but it didn’t work independently and I always had to help visitors register. It also gave the wrong impression that I didn’t want to make the effort to register our visitors, which isn’t a nice feeling.
Did you feel like the digitisation was a threat to your job?
I have to admit it wasn’t always easy to let go of the reception duties altogether. Personally, it took me a while before I could leave the reception desk completely unmanned. But, to be honest, I experienced more advantages than disadvantages very quickly.
I was particularly afraid that my social interactions with colleagues would dwindle, but I’m currently working full-time with my HR colleagues and the interaction has only improved. For the first time in my life, I have the feeling that I really belong to a team. The life of a receptionist can be quite lonely sometimes.
But you still work here, don’t you?
Absolutely, because I had the opportunity to become an Office Coordinator. I now manage the fleet, the building, and travel management. I make sure that people are able to do their job properly and try to create the right environment and provide the right tools.
What a transformation!
Yes, I’m actually glad that I’ve been relieved of those daily tasks and in return, I’ve been given a much more valuable position with more responsibilities. I really feel that I can now do much more for my colleagues and the company than before.