THE EVOLUTION OF THE SECURITY OFFICER
The primary purpose of security officers is to protect people and property. But the officers’ requirements are quickly evolving from purely physical protection to include customer experience, visitor management and brand value.
This evolution has also allowed a major move in the people we now see filling the security officer role. Gone are the days where you only expect to see a burly man in a security uniform.
THE VALUE IS IN DIVERSITY
The environments security officers protect are very diverse: the needs of the building, its customers and its visitors are all unique. So it only makes sense that the people skilled to protect these environments are diverse in their training, experience and physical attributes.
There are some places that actively encourage people to enter such as galleries, theatres and shopping centres. And other places where it is the officers’ role to actively discourage people from entering such as trading floors, government departments, data centres and warehousing.
In an open environment such as a shopping centre, customer experience plays a major part of the security officer’s role. They must be approachable and friendly with good communication skills as most of their day will probably be about helping people – such as way finding or reuniting a lost child with its parents. But the officer must also be vigilant – patrolling the centre and carrying out relevant checks.
In a closed environment such as a high security bank or office building, the security officer has more control over who can gain access. It is likely that security officers will also become familiar with regular building users, which may make it easier to spot any suspicious activity or potential threats. Closed environments do sometimes have guests too, so guards do need to be able to be friendly and warm whilst still making them feel safe.
HONOUR THE CUSTOMERS’ BRAND
But what is consistent in any environment is the need for the security team to honour the customers’ brand. The experience a visitor has with a security officer can influence their perception of the place and the brand. Offering the correct first impression is essential to making visitors feel positive about their experience. Officers must tailor their behaviour and actions to align themselves with the customers’ brand.
A security officer at the entrance of Louis Vuitton or Bentley is expected to present themselves in a very different manner than an officer at a Wetherspoon’s. From what they wear to the language they use – it all forms part of the customers’ brand: is the officer expected to open doors and encourage people to talk to them; is the officer employed to support a strong, defensive image; or are they expected to resolve conflict, and how. The officers must be emulating and protecting the customers’ brand whilst protecting the environment and its occupants.
WE CAN’T ALL BE CHAMELEONS
It’s safe to assume there are only a small number of security officers who can effectively flex to any environment and brand image; like chameleons, they have the ability to mould into their surroundings. But the true value of security officers is felt when they have been individually and specifically matched to the customers’ needs and environments, and more importantly, to the customers’ brand.
Only when the security provider fully understands its customer and their property, environments, visitors and brand can the provider deliver a true security solution that effectively protects its customers’ people, property and reputation.
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