Ten "Hygiene Factor" Secrets that will Transform Your Customer Experience
The (almost) Leicester City-free, Loo Guru Issue
Welcome to this issue of my newsletter - I hope you had a relaxing Mayday weekend! I'd like to offer a particularly warm welcome to our new subscribers. Please do let me know what you think of the newsletter, and feel free to share it with colleagues who might find it useful.
Last month I gave a speech at the Professional Speaking Association's Thames Valley regional meeting (you can watch it below). The title was "It Started With a Smile" and the topic was the key strategic importance of the Customer Experience, which (according to Walker Research) businesses believe will be the key source of competitive advantage by 2020.
I shared my STARS Customer Experience diagnostic tool and planning model, explaining how simple it is to identify and align the five key components of a customer-centric organisation. You can read a recent case study, in which I find STARS very much in evidence in an unexpected place, here.
Back to "It Started With a Smile": during my speech I went on a bit of a rant about a basic "hygiene factor" that many organisations seem to ignore - loos, ladies and gentlemen!
Health Warning: Some readers may find it distasteful or unappealing to spend the next ten minutes reading about, or looking at pictures of lavatories. It is for precisely this reason, I assume, that so many brands are undermining their investment in products, services, experiences, technology and marketing by ignoring this vital component of the customer experience. So, with a (mild) apology for any offence taken, I invite you to read on:
Regular readers of this newsletter will know that I'm exercised about the variable, and often deplorable, standard of presentation that these basic (and essential) facilities present in many shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and visitor attractions. I've previously shared with you a visit to Chatsworth, hosted by the late, Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, who unforgettably took me into the gentlemen's loos to show me the hand-painted, Minton tiles and gleaming chrome and porcelain.
“It’s attention to detail,” she told me firmly, “the loos are the first thing people see, and probably the last as well. They must be done as well as everything else here.”
You will also know that I've promised to give you my Top Ten Loo Do's and Don'ts: so, by absolutely no public demand whatsoever, here it is:
Your loos are as much a part of your brand experience as every other aspect of what you do. Spend as much time poring over every detail of the physical and sensory experience as you do on your core offering.
When designing or redesigning your loos, imagine what they would be like if designed according to your brand values and your marketing messages - then design them based on that!
Beware theming - your loos are there for a basic reason, not as part of the entertainment. They should say "we care", and that is probably sufficient. Other than saying "we REALLY care".
If you must go down the theming route, think about function first (including cleaning and maintenance). Then, think about taste (as in good) - how much of your brand experience should be/needs to be associated with this facility? (For example - a garden centre chain has designed its urinals to look like flowers - a surreal experience not aided by the fact that they smell like... dirty loos!)
On the subject of branding, use your logo and other branded elements sparingly in this area. I don't necessarily think better of your brand because it's applied to crooked, grubby notices apologising for a urinal being out of order.
If you are spending a lot of money on your loos - great! Don't however fall into the trap of creating architect-designed loos bristling with technology or design-led equipment. I regularly visit a retail outlet centre facility where, time after time, I watch customers struggling to work out how the hand-dryers (hidden in the taps) work. At a National Trust property, in an expensive, new visitors centre I spent literally five minutes trying to find the urinal, amid a confusing array of brushed chrome surfaces.
Hand-dryers should be clean, environmentally friendly, and emit a reliable, powerful blast of WARM air. Alternatively, hand towels should be plentiful, of good quality (recycled) paper and there should be adequate litter bins for their disposal.
Lavatories should be scrupulously clean at all times. Think about the practicalities of this when you are designing them - then ensure they are checked at least hourly, or additionally at peak periods. "Checking" should include cleaning, replenishing soaps, towels, etc - ensuring the facility is maintained to your brand standard at all times.
If you can't afford or justify spending a lot of money on your loos, do what you can: fresh paint, fresh flowers and cleanliness make a world of difference.
Consider all the senses when creating your loo experience - especially smell! For example, what do your customers see when they enter, or whilst in a cubicle? What do they hear? Is it too hot or too cold in there? As to taste - well I'd suggest that food menus (especially those displaying otherwise appetising photographs) do not belong in the loos!
(BONUS tip) Now you've addressed your customer's loo experience, what about your team's? Assuming they have separate facilities, do they say "we care"/ "we REALLY care" too? Remember that if you have unhappy customers, the chances are you have an unhappy team!
Speaking of Customer Experience...
I've been busy sharing the secrets of better communication (It's a Zoo Around Here) and better Customer Experiences (Project STARS) over the past few weeks. You can watch me on video here (Communication) and here (CX).
Quote of the Week
"If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get to the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” - Henry Ford
“The flush toilet, more than any single invention, has 'civilized' us in a way that religion and law could never accomplish.” - Thomas Lynch
Service Moment of the Week
Well it had to be a "Loo Guru" moment! There's no particular story - just the fact that I discovered a loo that ticked all the boxes... in a pub.
For designing and maintaining a clean, stylish, functional and occasionally intriguing facility (with recycled art on the walls, as throughout the pub), the Magdalen Arms in Oxford delivers my Service Moment of the Week.
Congratulations to Leicester City Football Club, 5000-1 outsiders who have won the English Premier League. As a lifelong supporter of Leicester's nearest rivals Tottenham Hotspur, it's great to see the top two clubs this season showcasing homegrown talent, with outstanding team spirit and work ethic fostered by two very different, but equally committed managers.
On top of this each team has played brilliant football this season. In summary, two great examples of POSITIVE Leadership, Communication/Teamwork and a compelling Customer Experience.
Get YOUR Team Playing Like Champions...
Better communication leads to better teamwork, better customer relationships... and more sales, loyalty and referrals.
It's a Zoo Around Here contains the secrets of our unique, practical and fun communication programme. Easy to read, remember and put into practice, this book will help your team to communicate better, with each other and with your customers.
ORDER NOW at our special online price of £10 (RRP £15.99).
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British Hope Stores Read my blog on the latest retail casualty, and lessons to be learned.