The Rise of the Virtual Receptionist: Redefining Front Desk Operations

Discover how a virtual receptionist can revolutionize visitor experiences by reducing wait times, handling calls, and offering 24/7 support.

Front desk operations are more than just the entry point to the workplace—they’re the cornerstone of a building’s visitor management. Creating an efficient flow of personnel through active support and access controls is fundamental to the visitor experience, which is why so many building resources are allocated to the ground floor. The long-established practices for operating a front desk may seem like a solved problem—but now, new virtual receptionist services are transforming standard expectations.

A virtual receptionist works around the clock to support building access, workplace communications, and visitor management. Building managers can use these new services to save on expenses and augment their reception desk’s functionality with remote support.

Transforming Visitor Experience with Virtual Receptionist

Introducing a digital receptionist to assist with building operations can transform everything from budgets to customer service. Buildings that adopt virtual receptionists can offer an unmatched level of support in various capacities. As remote services become more widespread, visitors will likely come to expect the convenience digitization can bring to the front desk.

But what are these perks exactly? Let’s dive in further.

How A Virtual Receptionist Enhances Customer Service

People often have an instinctive aversion to automated customer service. Building managers often worry that removing the warmth of human interaction at the front desk might diminish the visitor experience. However, what if a virtual receptionist had that welcoming human touch?

Some of the most advanced digital receptionist services allow visitors to interact with a real human receptionist through a screen. Whereas some virtual receptionist solutions rely solely on cold and unintuitive AI automation to handle customer interactions, the leading digital reception services combine the latest technology with the support of fully trained staff capable of interacting with visitors through on-site terminals. This allows for more efficient front desk support services without losing the ease that comes with human interaction.

Notably, digital receptionists also improve the visitor experience by offering 24/7 support to on-site staff and visitors. Visitors can receive prompt service regardless of when they reach out—and buildings can provide this around-the-clock service with trained virtual receptionists that can answer questions and provide prompt service across multiple sites. The resulting ability of the virtual receptionist to service multiple visitor touchpoints from a remote location can also result in significant cost savings.

remote receptionist

Streamlining Front Desk Operations with A Virtual Receptionist

A building’s front desk is the access point to every business it houses. It handles an intensely high volume of people every day—so it’s vital that operations run at maximum efficiency to avoid bottlenecks.

A virtual receptionist is the key to operating at the speed necessary to avoid wait times. This can be done through several key features, first and foremost of which is remote in-person wayfinding. The remote receptionist routes customers to the appropriate office right away, minimizing wait times for employees or visitors by handling influxes of customers more efficiently.

The virtual receptionist can also use existing calendar software to book meetings and rooms. This can eliminate friction in the customer service process for building visitors and callers, who can get support without a wait.

Financial Benefits of Adopting Virtual Receptionists

The customer service benefits of integrating virtual receptionists are compounded by the fact that incorporating remote services can be more efficient and, thus, much more cost-effective than expanding on-site staffing levels. The ROI of a digital receptionist makes the service essential for building managers trying to improve their visitor experience without going beyond their budget.

On top of these budgetary benefits, you can scale up and down factors such as video call volume requirements based on need. Building managers can optimize costs by tracking visitor volume to scale up service during peak times and down during slower hours.

The Role of Hardware: Supporting the Functionality of Virtual Receptionists

Once a building decides to implement a remote in-person receptionist via a digital service provider, the next step is establishing the screen infrastructure required to create a physical presence at the front desk. This requires considering what the ideal visitor flow and service functionality look like for the building. Factors like access control, visitor check-in and management systems, digital communication content, and interaction should all be considered.

The digital receptionist’s physical hardware location should reflect the traffic flow through the lobby. Oftentimes the virtual receptionist can reside at a check-in kiosk on an interactive touchscreen; this allows the visitor to interact with the real-life human presence on the screen to receive support. However, the system will require additional accessories if the digital receptionist is going to manage functions like access control. Hardware components such as card readers, biometric scanners, and door controllers are typically required for seamless integration with the front desk and visitor management systems.

However, in the case of the Sentry Interactive Tower, we do not require a reader for mobile access to be integrated with our digital front desk and remote in-person receptionist product.

virtual receptionist
Source: Sentry Interactive

Embracing a Modern Solution

The bottom line is that integrating a virtual receptionist can cost-efficiently improve a building’s customer support infrastructure. Visitors can avoid long wait times in the lobby.

Virtual receptionists streamline front desk operations by handling critical tasks such as visitor check-ins, remote in-person video calls with a receptionist or concierge, and meeting or room scheduling.

But only the most sophisticated virtual services continue to prioritize keeping the warm human feel of the reception desk—so it’s important to invest in the best technology available. Sentry Interactive offers the leading virtual receptionist solutions; their digital front desk systems can create a truly seamless visitor experience.

Sentry’s visitor management solution can issue digital access passes and manage controls through the app. The system customizes individual passes to operate within certain timeframes, which supports increased security measures.

Sentry combines the best aspects of human intelligence with digital capabilities to provide a more efficient service—yet still leverages the unmatchable level of support that customer service agents can offer.

Reach out to learn more about Sentry Interactive’s virtual receptionist.

William Bainborough

Board of Directors

William is an experienced British entrepreneur, founder, and accomplished board executive and advisor for a number of businesses. He is the CEO and co-founder of Doordeck, the world’s only true cloud-based access control aggregator. He is also the managing director and founder of Group Secure, a leader in providing security, CCTV, and access control solutions, products, and installation for high-net-worth individuals in the UK. 

William established his first business at just seventeen and brings 20-plus years of in-depth experience and industry knowledge. He has a proven track record for building businesses from the ground up—and then leading them to profitability and a successful exit across a myriad of sectors including hospitality, retail, security, telecommunications, and e-commerce. William’s leadership, vision, and experience in creating cutting-edge SaaS-based technology platforms will prove invaluable for Sentry Interactive moving forward.

Denis Hébert

Denis Hébert


Hébert began his career at Honeywell International where he held several leadership positions including Managing Director for the Automation and Controls business in France and eventually President of the NexWatch Corporation from 1999-2002. Hébert led HID Global as President & CEO over a transformative 12-year period from 2002-2015, where he provided strategic guidance and grew the business tenfold through a mix of strong organic and acquisitive growth. Most recently, Hébert was President of Feenics Corporation which is a cloud-based access control company that was successfully sold to ACRE LLC at the end of 2021. Hébert also served on the Board of Directors for the Security Industry Association (SIA) from 2009-2020 and was nominated to be Chairman of the Board for SIA from 2016-2018. He is currently Chairman of the Board for Nightingale Security based in Newark, CA.

Stephen Taylor Matthews

Board of Directors
Stephen is a very accomplished attorney, member of the Texas State Bar, licensed commercial real estate broker, and an avid philanthropist. He is an experienced executive board member, serving in leadership positions for more than 20 community councils and corporate boards—ranging from Boy Scouts of America to the ABBA Business Leaders Council, and most recently the American Bank BOD, the Real Estate Council of Austin, and the Marbridge Foundation BOT. With more than 35 years experience, Stephen and his firm, Barrond & Adler, L.L.P. are devoted to eminent domain cases in Texas.

Jon Davis

Board of Directors

Mr. Davis is an Experienced corporate board member, having served on boards of public, private equity-backed, and venture-backed companies. Jon possesses deep industry expertise in dairy, food processing, food technology and manufacturing, and food, beverage, and entertainment services. 

During Jon’s tenure of 25 plus years, he’s led operations, research and development, and mergers and acquisitions. He’s served as CEO and has been the founder and active board member for many successful enterprises—from startups to billion-dollar corporations. While COO and CEO of Davisco Foods International, Jon built a state-of-the-art cheese plant which was awarded the United States Dairy processing plant of the year in 2005 by Dairy Foods magazine. Currently, Jon is active with several non-dairy projects, including investments in local real estate, the Wayzata Brewworks, and his latest venture the new CōV restaurant in Edina’s Galleria.

Joe Caldwell

Founder and Chairman of the Board

Joe is an American entrepreneur, investor, and accomplished executive. He has co-founded, founded, and led many successful businesses, including US Internet, a leading fiber internet service provider, Securence, a leading provider of email filtering software, and Ravon, an industry-leading digital voice communications service. 

It was Joe’s venture, Municipal Parking Services (MPS), that inspired him in 2020 to start Sentry Interactive, an advanced touchless and staffless detection platform.

Caldwell currently serves as CEO and Chairman of the Board for Municipal Parking Services (MPS), a global tech company based in Austin, TX responsible for inventing and patenting technologies that assist in parking and security enforcement.

Joe was named one of Minnesota’s 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders for the past two years—and is a seasoned corporate board member. He’s served on boards of public, private equity-backed, and venture-backed companies—and has deep industry expertise in all aspects of digital technology.

Jason Bohrer

Jason Bohrer

Board of Directors

Jason Bohrer is one of the visionaries behind our mission to bring people back together safely and securely, in any environment, through Sentry’s advanced digital communications and detection platform. With over two decades of senior leadership experience, Jason’s track record of success spans across sales, operations, product innovation, strategy, and technology for domestic and global companies like Bexar Technology Partners, CPI Card Group, HID Global, and Motorola, Inc. Prior to launching Sentry Interactive, Jason was actively involved with several key technology transitions across multiple industries, including the contact and contactless EMV transitions in the U.S. payments industry and the adoption of smart card and mobile technologies in the global access and identity market. Jason was an inaugural member of the University of Chicago Executive Institute and holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves as the Executive Director for two industry-leading not-for-profit organizations: the Secure Technology Alliance and the U.S. Payments Forum.
Brent Terry

Brent Terry

Chief Operating Officer
Brent Terry leads the operations and solutions organizations at Sentry. This includes all product innovation, development, and operations management. A veteran in the technology space, Brent has more than 30 years of experience across a myriad of industries, like physical security technology and building automation, SAAS, hardware and software product development, internet, digital TV, interactive TV, digital media, telecommunications, and medical products and services. Prior to Sentry, Brent has spun up successful startups and led high-performing teams for some of the biggest global, Fortune 500 companies, including ARRIS, Conerco, Motive Communications, SeaChange International, and IBM. Brent holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Louisiana. He also is the committee Chairman and Program Director for a non-profit organization responsible for the rollout of smart cards for physicians and first responders.