The Impact of Restrooms on Customer Satisfaction

Scott Campbell, Global Product Manager, Hydro Systems

With an increasing number of people vaccinated, businesses are seeing a steady uptick in traffic compared to months prior. While this is a breath of fresh air, it does present new challenges for facility managers. Specifically, restroom cleanliness has become more vital to customer satisfaction than ever before. Consequently, managers need to prioritize restrooms and streamline the cleaning process to give guests the best experience during every visit.

Small Space, Big Impact

Even before the pandemic, restroom cleanliness significantly influenced customer satisfaction.

Bradley Corporation’s 2019 Healthy Handwashing Survey found that 64% of consumers will make a conscious decision to choose a business based on whether it has clean restrooms.

The pandemic has increased concerns about the cleanliness of these spaces. For example, a 2020 survey found that 42% of Americans have used public restrooms less than they did before the onset of COVID-19. While these results can partially be attributed to the fact that people were visiting public buildings less frequently at the height of the pandemic, it demonstrates how sensitive people are about communal environments.

Well-maintained restrooms are essential because they have a positive impact on both an organization’s employees and its customers. For example, a recent Harris Poll found that 90% of Americans believe that employers that pay consistent attention to workplace restroom cleanliness care more about their employees.

Clean restrooms are just as important as friendly staff and efficient service for enhancing the customer experience. Research conducted during the pandemic found that 62% of Americans will spend more money at businesses with a clean restroom, marking a 17% increase from the prior year. Thus, the investment associated with upholding restroom cleanliness is well worth it considering the impact it can have on the bottom line. Whether you operate a restaurant, hotel, or retail or convenience store, regular restroom maintenance is a must.

Resetting your Restroom

Facility managers consistently rank restrooms as difficult to manage. The 2021 CMM In-house/Facility Management Benchmarking Survey Report revealed that four in 10 facility managers say restrooms are the most problematic area to maintain. Consider the following best practices and strategies for keeping your restrooms cleaner:

  • Clean, then disinfect – Effective restroom maintenance is rooted in a two-step approach: cleaning followed by disinfecting. Cleaning is the removal of surface soils like dirt, dust and residues. In comparison, disinfecting inactivates viruses and removes bacteria to help reduce the spread of illness. A national survey in 2021 found that 89% of Americans will be more conscious of germs than ever before. By equipping your facility with a chemical dispenser, you ensure chemicals are diluted into spray bottles and mop buckets accurately and reliably. This guarantees that chemicals are at the appropriate concentration for effective cleaning and disinfection. In addition to the traditional wall-mounted chemical dispenser, portable units are an ideal option for facilities that want the added flexibility of dispensing chemicals wherever employees are cleaning.
  • Reserve ample time to clean restrooms – Ninety-eight percent of U.S. adults surveyed in 2020 believe restroom cleanliness is important. For this reason, businesses must provide employees with enough time to clean and disinfect restrooms, especially at the beginning of the day and after busy periods. Rushing the cleaning process makes employees more prone to error and can yield poor cleaning performance and appearance. This in turn can lead to negative reviews and lost revenue.
  • Implement ways to reduce the spread of germs – Heightened concerns over cleanliness can greatly impact brand reputation and an organization’s future success. For example, the 2020 Bradley Corp. survey found that 70% of Americans are more likely to return to a business with touchless fixtures like automatic hand soap and sanitizer dispensers. Meanwhile, 60% of Americans say touchless paper towel dispensers in public restrooms would improve their perception of a facility’s cleanliness. Carefully considering restroom design and infection prevention measures helps prevent the spread of germs while giving customers greater peace of mind. Additionally, portable equipment that enables foaming and spraying in large or hard-to-reach areas, like in locker rooms or at amusement parks or campgrounds, is instrumental for thorough cleaning that reduces the spread of pathogens. Select units that enable multiple dilution rates and can easily switch between foaming and spraying.
  • Keep restrooms appropriately stocked – No one enjoys finding an empty dispenser for toilet paper, hand soap or paper towels in a restroom. As a matter of fact, three in four consumers report being dissatisfied with restrooms if soap dispensers are empty. Periodically check and refill restroom essentials to prevent lapses in hygiene, complaints and reputational damage. Automatic dispensers help conserve supplies by delivering the proper amount of hand soap or paper towels to avoid overconsumption.

Washing your Hands of the Pre-pandemic Mindset

Some businesses are growing closer to pre-pandemic levels of foot traffic and others have already achieved this goal thanks to widespread vaccine availability and mandates and restrictions being lifted. However, customers are not returning to pre-pandemic expectations of cleanliness. Businesses that refine their cleaning practices and procedures set themselves apart on the road to recovery. By prioritizing restrooms, managers can successfully adapt to new demands from both customers and employees.

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