From guards to greeters
FREEPORT, Maine—Viewpoint CRM is aiming to not only replace or augment guards, but replace or augment property management and customer service personnel as well. The company, which expanded its headquarters in 2009 after experiencing what company CEO Brad Gordon said was “100 percent growth, year-over-year” for the previous three years, is now furthering the reach of its value proposition of replacing expensive on-site personnel with cost-effective, as-needed virtual personnel by adding concierge and information service offerings to its dealers through new Interactive Kiosks.
For example, Freeport Village Station (comprising outlets from LL Bean, Calvin Klein, Van Heusen, Coach and Brooks Brothers, to name a few), based here, is a 120,000-square-foot shopping plaza that has been using Viewpoint’s remote guarding and Interactive Kiosks since its grand opening in the summer of 2009. Mike Hanlon, VP channel sales and marketing at Viewpoint, said the agents who interact through the kiosks are equipped to handle just about any request end users on site might have.
“Agents take everything from ‘I’ve locked my keys in my car, can you send help?’ to … ‘I’m looking for a restaurant in this facility, and it has to be Mexican, and I want to know if they have openings right now. Can they seat me right away?’” Hanlon said. “The role here can be security focused, but at the same time they can be more of an information spot, and building-entry control point, for commercial buildings. The applications have really evolved. In a world where we’re replacing guys on site, this is the answer for ‘We used to have an information desk. How do we fill that role?”
Stephen McParland, president of Berenson Associates, which manages both Freeport Village Station and Northline Commons, a similar property using the kiosks in Houston, said the remote guarding services combined with the kiosks simply saves money. “The most significant costs associated with the management of retail shopping facilities, especially in urban areas, are insurance and security. Security needs to be at the optimum level in order to even qualify for insurance,” McParland said via email. “With labor costs, salaries and benefits, continuing to soar, Viewpoint CRM has keyed into a state-of-the-art solution with the perfect balance of personnel and technology. The result is a cost/benefit dynamic that makes ‘personnel-only security’ a concept of the past.”
By way of demonstration, Hanlon, on-site at Freeport Village Station to display the solution, was able to quickly and easily interact with a Kiosk and ask the Viewpoint agent where different shops were located and how to get there from his current location. Camera feeds of both he and the agent were displayed on the Kiosk’s screen in real time. Other potential uses on campuses and in hospitals include access control and mass notification solutions, according to Hanlon.
“How robust can this be? You can put anything in there that the client wants,” Hanlon said, noting that when an agent is not engaging through the Kiosk its screen can stream facility-specific advertising to recoup costs. “Our value proposition to the client is to say, ‘Not only do you not have to pay us to sit around doing nothing when no one needs our assistance, but we can put behind the Interactive Kiosk agent all the intelligence they need to get all the answers and make all the decisions that your client or tenant or customers need.’”