Touch Screen Printer
The original ticket printers only allowed for a single push button, although there was a provision for a card reader early on which was used for regular callers and pre arranged appointment. While this worked well, the cost of suitable cards at the time lead to it being phased out. One of the alternatives was an early touch screen login process but this proved to be unreliable with the hardware available at the time. With the original installations being in offices where the initial wait to be seen could be over an hour simply due to the need to cross reference manual records at that time, issuing a ticket on arrival was all that could be done anyway. As office proceses improved, a fast flow reception started being used to filter those callers who did not need an in depth interview. In many offices these days, the wait on 'fast flow/meet and greet' is short enough not to need to be monitored, and so ticket printers have moved behind the desk.
Nowadays touch screen is a much more practical option, with the vast range of tablets and touch screen monitors, and can provide more than a simle enhancement to the ticket printer. Also 2D barcodes provide an alternative to card readers as these can be printed on an appointment letter, or displayed on a mobile phone. So there are a number of options to fast track visitors to an office. The simplest mechanism is used on NHS type systems, where appointments are accessed using a date of birth which takes this group of callers out of the reception queue. This can be provisioned by a self service desk equiped with a touch screen monitor and printer, and can be enhanced by the use of a simple USB camera.
Handling cold callers can be a little more complex depending on the way the office works. Normally the identity of the caller is an essential piece of data in establishing the next officer who should see them in some departments. Where callers are handled anonymously, a simple question check list can place a caller in the relevent queue, but this may result in the need for a receptionist to be replaced by an inital call by the staff in that department to establish who they need to see. Using the appointment self service desk could be made more practical if regular or returning callers have a barcode that they can use. This can be augmented by perhaps including a barcode of some type on material relating to application forms. Taxi licence/ Blue card/ bus pass renewal can be fast tracked perhaps with a check list that they have all the relevent documents before forwarding them to the relevent queue.
That some callers will need assistance in being processind initailly is a given, and this can be provided either by retaining a reception position, or with current tablet technology, staff could float in the entracnce and direct people to the self service positions, or assist them where additional data needs to be entered. The grey area is whether the self servic positions would be enhanced by the inclusion of a keyboard. While many people will be comfortable with an on screen keyboard, not everybody will be comfortable. It may wll be that a 'meet and greet' staff member may be more productive if they have access to a proper keyboard when a more complex problem arises. One element of this is that some sites do not resort to issuing a ticket, using the text to speech to call by name, which requires that every ticket has a name attached, but removes the other problems of handling tickets. If the need for a ticket number is removed, potentially callers could check in direct from their mobile phone.
Self Service Options