Image Enhancement – Customer Satisfaction

Image Enhancement – Customer Satisfaction

According to multiple studies, customers value cleanliness more than many other factors when deciding to do business with an establishment. The image that a clean facility creates is a lasting one. Many managers perceive cleaning as an operational cost, but a dirty facility with a poor image will cost businesses direct revenue. Dirty buildings can also create risks such as slips and falls, leading to higher insurance and legal costs. Consumers have many choices. When given the choice, consumers would rather do business with companies that are dedicated to a positive image and a clean facility.

The Cleanliness – Satisfaction Connection

In 2010 Procter & Gamble (P&G) conducted a cleanliness satisfaction study of the leading fast-food or quick serve restaurant (QSR) chains in the United States. Survey respondents identified cleanliness as the number one driver of customer satisfaction. Cleanliness was ranked higher than value, speed, convenience, variety, and accuracy of the order. When QSRs focus on cleanliness, they have a better chance to win market share.

More than 1,000 respondents between the ages of 18-64 were invited to participate in an online survey from a panel of more than 5 million Internet users. Age, gender, and ethnicity of the respondents reflected the respective distribution within the national population. P&G queried all respondents on their past 3-month usage of 28 QSR chains, their overall cleanliness satisfaction for each chain and whether there were any chains that they avoided due to cleanliness.

Out of twenty aspects of QSR cleanliness, respondents chose the four factors that most annoyed them and the four they found dirty most often. They were then given an opportunity to further define their most annoying cleanliness aspects. The top most annoying factors were the most common across all QSR chains.

  • Restaurant cleanliness matters to QSR customers – it is the most important attribute among the 15 customer satisfaction measurements. More than 6 in 10 QSR users agreed that if a fast-food restaurant is really clean, they go there more often.
  • Some aspects of QSR cleanliness that are “most annoying” to QSR customers are also found to be dirty most often: dining room tables & chairs, bathroom toilets, litter on tables and floors, and floors in the dining room and bathroom.
  • In the dining room, sticky tables, chairs, and floors are the biggest obstacles to cleanliness.
  • In the bathroom, unpleasant odors, clogged toilets, soiled floors, and sticky floors are all issues for QSR users.
  • Other aspects are often found dirty but are less annoying (perhaps because QSR customers have a lower expectation in these areas): condiment dispensers, garbage receptacles, and bathroom sinks.

Figure1-mostannoyingcleanlinessaspects
Figure 1: Most Annoying Cleanliness Aspects Found Most Often in QSRs

Store interior - shelves with home decor products

Retail Store Image Enhancement

Chain Store Age, a magazine for retail executives, examined “store atmospherics,” the variety of elements retailers put into stores to make shopping more appealing. The results of the Chain Store Age survey revealed that customers view cleanliness as the most influential element of the shopping environment. Consumers rate cleanliness the most important by far among 13 aspects of store atmosphere. The magazine set out to answer a couple of key questions: What matters most to shoppers? How important are such basics as cleanliness and store temperature? To find out, Chain Store Age collaborated with Leo J. Shapiro and Associates to survey a national sample of 956 United States consumers age 16 or older. Respondents were divided equally between men and women. Households with children represented 35 percent of the sample (Chain Store Age, 2005).

Consumers segregate the elements of store atmospherics into three “tiers:”

  1. The basic condition of the store, such as cleanliness;
  2. Passive atmospherics, the essential but relatively static aspects of the store such as lighting and temperature;
  3. Active atmospherics, the more interactive elements such as music, product demonstrations, and in-store TV.

Retailers who are able to orchestrate all three tiers in a deliberate, strategic way will create significant competitive advantage. In the shopper’s mind, atmosphere translates to well-being. “As retail becomes increasingly vanilla box-like, one of the most powerful differentiators is the well-being of the consumer in the store,” says George Rosenbaum, chairman of Leo J. Shapiro and Associates. His colleague, Ken Rice, adds, “Atmosphere is what creates that sense of well-being. Properly managing all the elements in the atmospherics repertoire has enormous competitive advantage, particularly in a self-service environment where the shopper has to work the store on her own.”

Furthermore, the tiers build on one another and are interrelated. If the store is not clean, it will receive little credit for passive characteristics. For example, better lighting reveals more dirt, and flooring and fixtures become unsightly. If the store falls short on passive criteria, it will receive little credit for active elements. Passive and active atmospherics can work at cross-purposes if active elements divert shoppers from making purchases.

The Chain Store Age survey found that store atmospherics as a whole (cleanliness, passive and active elements) are most important in food stores, ahead of nine other types of retailers in the study, including apparel stores, where cleaning ranks second in importance of store atmosphere.

Fancy-Restroom-SinkRestroom Cleanliness Survey

A Harris Interactive Survey independent study conducted for Cintas Corporation further confirms the importance of cleanliness in customer choice selection from hospitality to healthcare experiences (Cintas, 2011). It discovered that 94 percent of 1,000 adults surveyed would avoid a business in the future if they encountered dirty restrooms. “Dirty restrooms cost businesses lost sales, customers, referrals, and repeat business,” said Mike Thompson, Senior Vice President, Cintas Facility Services. “This study reaffirms that if customers are not satisfied with the state of a restroom, they will take their business elsewhere” (Cintas, 2011)

Respondents were asked what specific types of businesses they would avoid if they encountered dirty restrooms. Their responses are shown in this table.

table-avoiding-business-dirty-restrooms

Studies illustrate that levels of cleanliness are not just important to building occupants and their work productivity, but also factor into customer decision making, which can impact a business’s ability to meet revenue expectations. It can be extrapolated that if a business has a formula for indicating revenue projections on a per-customer basis, the revenue impact of cleaning improvements can be calculated by factoring in a percentage of customers turned away due to undesirable building image and cleanliness. For example, if one in 20 customers is turned off by dirty restrooms, that is worth an estimated X dollars of lost revenue, which can be reduced to a more favorable ratio if cleaning improvements are implemented.


About ISSA

The leading trade association for the cleaning industry worldwide, ISSA has a membership that includes more than 6,100 distributors, manufacturers, building service contractors, in-house service providers, and others interested in the cleaning industry. ISSA helps its members and their employees make valuable contacts through the industry’s largest cleaning shows, produced in conjunction with Amsterdam RAI, under the brand name ISSA/INTERCLEAN®.

ISSA also helps increase professionalism and networking opportunities through its global Web site, ISSA.com, and by offering business tools, industry standards – including the popular CIMS/CIMS-GB program – and legislative and regulatory services. It is through these initiatives that ISSA increases awareness of the true value of clean and its impact on human health, the environment, and a better bottom line. The association is headquartered in Lincolnwood, IL, USA. For more information, visit www.issa.com.

Dan Wagner

Dan Wagner is ISSA's Director of Facility Service Programs and has been with ISSA since November of 1999. He is primarily responsible for leading the association's sustainability and facility service programs, including the Cleaning Industry Management Standard & CIMS-Green Building Certification Program and Transpare. Dan has published numerous articles and spoken at various conferences, workshops and seminars on CIMS, standardization, management principles, and the true value of clean.

Dan is also a noted "subject matter expert" on green cleaning and a sought after speaker on environmental preferability, sustainability and green operations and maintenance. He has served as an SME for the International Facility Management Association and IFMA Foundation and is a co-author of the Foundation's "Global Guide on Green Cleaning," as well as a primary contributor to the "Business of Green Cleaning" manual.

Dan is also the association's Director of Facility Service Legislative Affairs and in-house legal counsel, having received his Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University in 1998. He is also a licensed attorney in the State of Illinois; a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, the American Society of Association Executives; and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Floor Safety Institute.

About ISSA

The leading trade association for the cleaning industry worldwide, ISSA has a membership that includes more than 6,100 distributors, manufacturers, building service contractors, in-house service providers, and others interested in the cleaning industry. ISSA helps its members and their employees make valuable contacts through the industry’s largest cleaning shows, produced in conjunction with Amsterdam RAI, under the brand name ISSA/INTERCLEAN®.

ISSA also helps increase professionalism and networking opportunities through its global Web site, ISSA.com, and by offering business tools, industry standards – including the popular CIMS/CIMS-GB program - and legislative and regulatory services. It is through these initiatives that ISSA increases awareness of the true value of clean and its impact on human health, the environment, and a better bottom line. The association is headquartered in Lincolnwood, IL, USA. For more information, visit www.issa.com.

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