Everywhere you look there are more security personnel. This is one reality we share all around the world. In airports, hotels, shopping malls, schools, corporations and public spaces, we see an increasing number of security personnel among us. Often security staff are the first and most visible point of contact with your customers. This trend will only continue in a world fraught with dangers. But is there an opportunity here as well?
Security is, by itself, a service. We all recognize the value of being protected, or at least feeling a bit more secure in our daily activities. Is there a way to turn this growing presence into a more valuable service experience? Rather than being a visible reminder of threat, can your security team members become a symbol of service excellence? In this uncertain world, can security actually enforce, if not enhance, your service brand? Recently I have seen that it can.
I travel all over the world as I work and visit family members, so I have the opportunity to see many security personnel in action. At a hotel I was pleased to watch security guards at the entrance greet guests with wide smiles, opening doors, chatting as they waited for taxis, offering directions and advice. While their attention may have seemed diverted, these guards were actually getting to know the guests better – and identify who might pose problems. At the same time they were making the hotel look good with a personable service mindset that was infectious.
At a large urban shopping mall security guards were wearing “Ask Me” buttons, engaging with shoppers looking for stores or recommendations. At a crowded water park resort, security personnel stopped along the pathways, offering to take photos of families and couples, or offer helpful rides to seniors. Again they were getting to know the guests in this bustling environment. They were paying attention, improving security, and providing better service.
And at a large retail bank, security staff have been trained to “run the floor” at branches – directing customers to the right queues and bank staff. They know about the bank’s basic services and can answer questions to help customers. And standing in the lobby, in their neatly pressed uniforms, they are also the most easily accessible personnel in the bank.
Sometimes contracted security team members even wear the uniform or logos of the organizations they serve. They become part of the service brand – part of the team to serve your needs.
This stands in contrast to many other organizations where security staff are notably uninterested and disengaged. They look more at their mobile devices than at the people around them. They seem to be filling a slot in a schedule, not fulfilling security, or company, or customer needs. The organization, the customers, and even the security staff themselves don’t really want them to be there.
In some special cases integrating security personnel into the operations and service culture of an organization may not work. But where it can, the first impressions of the security team member, as well as the company he or she is protecting, is much more positive. Personally, I believe we are more secure with people who are engaged in their jobs and engaged with the other staff members and customers around them.
Whether at the front door, the entry way, the guard house, along the pathway or in the corridors and aisles – your security personnel may be the first and most visible contacts with your customers.
What can you do to make positive security a stronger component of the service culture of your organization? What has been your experience?