What do you think of when you hear “security professional?” Maybe a big, burly guy in a suit, arms crossed, with a perpetual scowl on his face? Or maybe he’s in uniform, complete with a holstered gun and impassive gaze. The “unapproachable” look has been a standard for many years and basically fell in line with the job the security professional performed. However, as the need for security expands into different markets, the job of a security officer is evolving.
Security officers are now found in an array of places, including hospitals, college campuses, retail settings, and more. While their primary duty is still the protection of a facility and its inhabitants, they are providing those duties in a public environment, with employees, customers, tenants, etc., in the vicinity. In fact, the security officer is often the first individual a person will encounter when entering one of these establishments. For this reason, employers should look beyond the traditional image of a security professional, and consider their customer service abilities to be as important a skill as asset protection.
College security officers are doing more than patrolling buildings now. They offer safety information to students, help with vehicle and dorm lockouts, assist students, faculty, and/or visitors to find campus locations or information, and more. They act as a representative of the school and provide a safe and welcoming presence.
The same applies to hospital security; however, these individuals have the added burden of providing help and services to visitors who are sometimes in an emotionally compromised state. Concern for the well-being of their loved ones can lead to distress, panic, and even hysteria. Personnel in this security role must have the ability to stay patient, calm, and empathic in emotionally-charged situations.
For these reasons, when recruiting security personnel, it’s important to be transparent about the work environment, by detailing how often they can expect to interact with customers or other members of the public, and what is expected of them in various situations. The ideal recruit should be both approachable in appearance and demeanor, and have the ability to greet and interact with individuals, regardless of their attitude or emotional status, in a manner which reflects and upholds the reputation of the company.
Using a selective hiring process, defining the expectations ahead of time, offering thorough training on both security duties and customer service skills, and giving regular performance feedback will help your security professional become a strong representative of your company and foster a friendly, yet safe environment for your customers.