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Customer loyalty starts in the loo

16 November 2018

Excellence in cleaning is the first requirement in any hospitality business – and the washroom is one of the main battlegrounds where you can win over customers. Here, Bob Cotton OBE, a member of P&G Professional’s Expert Advisory Council, explains why

Loyal customers are the most treasured asset any hospitality business can possess, yet many operations spend time and money constantly trying to attract new customers, rather than focusing on improving customer service. One simple solution: start with the toilet or washroom. 

A window into your business

Recent research has told us that in order for customers to return, quality cleaning is essential for providing good customers service. Often, the toilet can be amongst the first of guests’ experiences in both restaurants and hotels, and it certainly has significant influence on their overall impression. In fact, over two thirds of people will question cleaning standards after encountering one unclean area in an establishment*. Specifically, 60% of people will question an establishment's overall hygiene if the washrooms are not properly maintained*. 

Consumers like to think that the kitchen is kept clean, but they have to rely on the managers and health and safety inspectors that standards are met. They will form their opinions from the areas they can see. If the toilets (which are very accessible to customers) are dirty, it will reflect poorly on the back of house – especially how people will view the hygiene in your kitchen where meals are being prepared.

In a restaurant, however famous the chef or skilled the kitchen and service staff, if the washrooms are not pristine, with sparkling sinks and toilets, clean floors, and streak-free mirrors, everything else is worthless. The customer will make the decision not to re-visit. One third of people would pay more money to dine at a restaurant that had clean and hygienic toilets.

In a hotel, cleanliness is equally critical. The first impression in the bedroom goes beyond pristine bed linen and fluffy towels. Above all else, they expect a spotless toilet and bathroom. If an hotelier fails this test the guest will not only fail to return but probably check out straight away, and rightly so. With 85% of people stating they are happy to share their poor hygiene experience with friends, family and co-workers, oversight in the toilet facilities can also prevent new business*. Guests are now looking to social media and review sites to seek out cleaning and hygiene reviews when determining accommodation. Three quarters of people have sought hygiene review in hotels and almost 60% for restaurants*.  

The essentials: Equipment and training

The reason so many businesses fall short in this area of washroom cleanliness is their failure to recognise its importance and impact on the customer. It is imperative the employees are given the right equipment and cleaning materials, along with adequate product training. Each member of staff must understand the significance of a well-maintained washroom. Investment in professional cleaning products, that are simple, trusted and effective, like those in the P&G Professional range, deliver quality results quickly. Ensuring they’re aware of the correct quantities of products efficiently helps increase staff productivity. Auto dosing systems, including the Flash Professional system, simplify cleaning and help to reduce costs. Products are simply labeled and colour coded with clear instructions, to help staff identify the right product for the job. While correct dilution is delivered with one push of the button.

Nothing is more important than excellence in cleanliness in the hospitality industry. With people increasingly looking at ratings and reviews, specifically related to hygiene, when searching for a place to eat or stay, washroom facilities will play a crucial role in customer decisions. It is one of those key ingredients which procures that great customer experience in any hospitality business which leads to the ‘holy grail’, a loyal customer.

Bob Cotton OBE is a member of P&G Professional’s Expert Advisory Council.

* Research carried out by OnePoll for P&G Professional in June 2018 amongst a sample of 2000 British adults.