Nov 1, 2006

Bathroom Blogfest : Would you put your money in your bathroom?

While more fortunate consumers in some parts of the world talk about issues like softness of toilet paper or adding personal touches to public wash room India we deal with base level issues like 'whether the loo is clean' (that is the first question i remember asking anyone who'd visit a public loo - too reluctant to try it out myself) or 'whether there is a loo at all' ?

Untill i started to travel and live out of my country, the notion that some one could invest in clean wash rooms for the use of citizens was alien to me. We grew up learning how to exercise bladder control and made our way to a public wash room / toilet only in dire circumstances . Even as recent as a couple of years back, horrified at the state of the ladiesroom at my workplace and despite many explicit requests to the admin staff I relented by carrying my own toilet paper ! And I distinctly remember how thrilled i was when switching jobs i discovered that the ladies room at my new place of work was well equipped and bright.

Of course the situation is changing slowly - with the advent of Malls, Multiplexes and MNCs, Indians are finally waking up to cleaner wash rooms though establishments offering such facilities are still few and far between.

This throws up several questions in my mind...As we go ahead

- Do businesses need to invest in great looking or even clean washrooms?
- Would a consumer's opinion about a washroom facility, impact his / her opinion of the business it is part of? Or are we so accustomed to bad loos of yesteryears that we'd consider the poor state of wash rooms a given!
- Would the presence and state of a wash room dictate my choice as a consumer i.e. would i chose one restaurant over another based on their loo?

I would be fooling myself if i'd think that the state of a wash room would influence we haven't reached that stage yet. But that does not negate the other two statements. I don't think i'd decide against going to a mall / restaurant or not join a place of work if it had an unclean toilets, though i know a finicky friend who does check out the loo whenever she goes for a job interview.

But i most definitely would remember an organization / business establishment where i encountered a clean one. And given that there is such a dearth of the such types why would it not stand out in anyone's memory ?

It also cannot be denied that a, well equipped washroom signals to stakeholders that you CARE about them & their most basic requirement.

The question therefore is would businesses want to invest in such facilities and if so, for what in return? When considering such decisions, people need to bear in mind that such investments involve not only a one time effort but a recurring effort not only in terms of money but also in terms of time and energy

Everything cannot be attributed to monetary returns and providing such a facility (at least given current realities in india) creates a strongly positive experience for the consumer. Susan talks about how such facilities register as a part of the total experience and can act as a differentiator to your business. Clean loos in India is not just a 'hygiene factor'. They are viewed as a comfort, if not a luxury by most. People always talk about loo encounters good, bad or ugly. They may not go shouting from the roof tops but the news does get around through whispers.

So if you haven't cared enough to look into the wash room facilities you provide...remember

Clean restrooms = Happy Customers &
Dirt = Disorder

PS - while 10 years back my search for a good loo ended at the Taj, today it is the golden arches of the ubiquitous McDonalds I look matter where i am in the world...and I am never disappointed. Now what does that tell you about customer care & consistency in standards!

More on bathroooms and customer experience

Susan talks about how even bathrooms count in creating an integrated customer experience using the 4 p's framework

Sara has a few confessions to make & comes up with some real innovative ideas on how to encourage people to 'wash hands'

Stephanie illustrates well designed bathrooms she has comes across here. Don't miss the kid friendly hand wash area

For businesses who dont think washrooms are worth their time and money, read Linda's post that starts with Paco Underhills nerve racking question...Would you want your wife to pee in this place?

Christine has some halloween bathroom horror stories to share

Maria recounts how she is so comfortable with starbucks washroom, that she does not mind working in there.

customer experience, bathroom blogfest, ladiesrooms

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