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  • Nick Hague and Paul Hague

Flushing out great customer experience

We've written thousands of words on customer experience and to our shame, we've not discussed toilets. As you read this opening line you may think that we have flipped but we assure you that toilets have a very important part to play in customer experience.


We should qualify this point by saying that toilets figure only in certain types of customer experience – a visit to a restaurant, a pub or someone's offices. In all the surveys we have carried out where someone may need the loo, we find that the toilet experience can exceed all others. It certainly is the case for visits to pubs and restaurants. A dirty loo is a killer for customer experience. On the other hand, a survey of customer experience among bingo players (remember when people could actually mix with each other?) elicited this comment:


"I love playing bingo at XX. You go to the toilets and they have fresh flowers on the wash basins. It is so clean and you feel that if they take such good care in that area, their kitchens must be sparkling".


It is interesting that our American cousins are coy about using the term “toilets”. They refer to them as “the bathroom”. And yet, though we are experts on this subject, we’ve yet to see a facility with a bath in it. It must be that the subject needs handling with decorum. Now we’ve raised this subject you no doubt can think of examples where toilet comments have been shared by your friends. A recent visit to the Ivy restaurant in Manchester prompted someone in the group to comment on the facility being wallpapered floor to ceiling in flowers and everyone felt the need to visit and return with their opinion and observations.


You see, we make judgements on businesses that provide a service from what we can see and measure. We can't necessarily visit the kitchen in a hospitality venue but we can surmise that the owners will have a common attitude to cleanliness throughout the building. For example, a company whose business is renting out storage units carried out a survey of customers and found that they had an indifferent customer satisfaction score of 7 out of 10. They had a makeover of their toilets, which many customers needed only occasionally, and it raised the customer satisfaction score to 9 out of 10. Since it was the only change they made, we have to assume that it was this alone that prompted the stellar increase.


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