Bathrooms and Customer Experience

BB_2009-200x320-buttonYes, it is that time of year when the Bathroom Blogfest comes around and our thoughts turn to those forgotten spaces where the customer experience, and customer perceptions, are still impacted. Yes, even the bathroom at your establishment (restaurant, retail store, hotel) reflects on your brand. As you know, here at Customers Rock! there is a strong focus on looking at your business from the customer’s perspective. Sometimes, that perspective takes place in the restroom, and this blogfest focuses on exactly that.

The Bathroom Blogfest 2009 has been taking place all week this week, with a variety of bloggers providing insight. While this is the fourth year of the Blogfest, I have participated in it since 2007 (see the end of my post for links to my previous posts as well as links to other Bathroom Blogfest bloggers). My previous posts have featured interesting bathrooms from Disney (both Disneyland and Disneyworld) as well as from the airport in Maui, HI, and Las Vegas.  This year’s Bathroom Blogfest post looks at bathroom theming in the guest rooms at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. (Note: I took these pictures last year when I was at the Disneyland Resort for the NACCM Customers 1st Conference, where I am giving a keynote speech this year at the event in Phoenix, AZ. My speech will be about using social media for customer loyalty.)

Special thanks go to CB Whittemore for pulling together the Bathroom Blogfest this year and for our first ever Bathroom Blogfest sponsor Kaboom! (Disclosure: Kaboom! sent me a Bathroom Cleaning Kit to trial.)

Find the Hidden Mickeys

Mickey Hand Vanity

A popular game for Disney enthusiasts is to find the “Hidden Mickeys” throughout the theme parks (images of Mickey Mouse’s ears). This bathroom had Mickeys everywhere, including his hands. Take a closer look at these lights around the bathroom vanity. Mickey Mouse’s hands are holding the lamps – thanks, Mickey!

Mickey Mouse wallpaperCheck out that wallpaper; nice pattern, huh? Now take a closer look. The pattern actually incorporates Mickey’s entire image – welcoming us into the water closet.

Disney Vanity SneezyThe vanity itself is decorated with the Mickey ears as well as Sneezy, one of the Seven Dwarves, above the tissue container. Clever!

Mickey Bath GelMy favorite part, however, are the toiletries. Mickey ears adorn the top of the shampoo, conditioner, and hand lotion containers. These little beauties definitely came home with me!

These are just a few examples of the way branding can be carried through in even the smallest details of the guest experience, all the way down to the toiletries in the bathrooms. As a Disney fan, I was completely delighted with the entire hotel experience, but having these surprises in the bathroom told me a few things. One, Disney is very focused on making sure their brand continues to stand behind Mickey Mouse and his unique ears – and they should be. Second, Disney likes to pay attention to details, so I can feel confident that I will be taken care of throughout my entire Disney vacation experience. Third, these little touches are very clever, and they had me looking forward to my visit in the theme park so I could be surprised even more!

What Does Your Bathroom Say?

Whether you are a retail establishment, a restaurant, a service (such as a doctor’s office) or a corporate business, every aspect of your customer experience speaks volumes about your brand, your organization’s culture, and the way you conduct your business. While you certainly don’t need to “decorate” your bathroom with as many details as they did at the Disneyland Hotel, you do need to ensure at least the basics are met:

  • Bathroom is neat and clean
  • Bathroom has all the necessary supplies refilled on a regular basis
  • Bathroom has the appropriate services to help meet your patron’s needs (purse hook for ladies, for example)

Ideally, your bathroom can also go a bit further and be a clear reflection of your brand or business. Carry through the color or decorative theming from the rest of your facility. Add a small something to “surprise and delight” your customer – could be a sign, a nicely framed photo or picture, or a fun color theme. (A note on fun – Macaroni Grill, a casual-dining Italian restaurant, has “learn to speak Italian” lessons playing over the bathroom speakers instead of music!)  Whatever you decide to do, don’t let your bathroom be an after-thought, or your customers may decide they don’t want to think about you anymore, either.

Bathroom Blogfest Resources

Here is a list of the other Bathroom Blogfest bloggers; go and check out their varied perspectives on bathrooms. You can also find them via tag #ladiesrooms09 on Twitter. Below the list are my links to Customers Rock! Bathroom Blogfest posts from previous years.

• Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroadshttp://www.customercrossroads.com
• Reshma Anand at Qualitative Research Blog http://onqualitativeresearch.blogspot.com/ 
• Shannon Bilby at From the Floors Up http://fromthefloorsup.com/ 
• Shannon Bilby and Brad Millner at My Big Bob’s Blog http://blog.mybigbobs.com/ 
• Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop http://www.laurenceborel.com/
• Jeanne Byington at The Importance of Earnest Service http://blog.jmbyington.com/
• Becky Carroll at Customers Rock! http://www.customersrock.net
• Leslie Clagett at KB Culture www.kbculture.blogspot.com
• Katie Clark at Practical Katie http://practicalkatie.blogspot.com/
• Iris Shreve Garrott at Checking In and Checking Out http://circulating.wordpress.com/
• Julie at Julie’s Cleaning Secrets Blog http://cleaningsecrets.greatcleaners.com/
• Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution http://www.resultsrevolution.com 
• Maria Palma at People To People Service http://www.people2peopleservice.com/ 
• Professor Toilet at Professor Toilet’s Blog http://www.professortoilet.com/ 
• David Reich at My 2 Cents http://reichcomm.typepad.com/ 
• Bethany Richmond at The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog http://www.carpet-and-rug-institute-blog.com 
• Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose http://spiritwomen.blogspot.com 
• Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology http://experienceology.blogspot.com
• C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer http://flooringtheconsumer.blogspot.com and Simple Marketing Blog http://www.SimpleMarketingBlog.com
• Linda Wright at Lindaloo.com: Build Better Business with Better Bathrooms http://lindaloo.com/

Customers Rock! Bathroom Blogfest Posts

The Disney Experience

Luxury Disney

Door Signs

Hawaiian and Venetian (Sort of)

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8 Responses

  1. Becky,

    This blogpost ROCKS! I love the photos, the details [especially the Mickey ears on the shampoo!], and the sound advice you offer for making the bathroom experience an absolute customer rock! experience! [I had forgotten about the Marcaroni Grill Italian lessons.Another great examples].

    Thanks for being part of Bathroom Blogfest and making this year’s event such a success.


  2. I agree with C.B. This post rocks.

    In a public retail environment a bathroom tells the truth about that brand and their commitment to their customers. It seems obvious. But then again, so much of customer service seems obvious and obviously true. So, then why do so many brands lose connection with these truths and then their customers and employees?

    One good thing that results are great posts like this.


  3. I loved the Italian lessons in the restaurant bathroom concept!

    I wish that places that deal with food would be aware of your bullet point re. cleanliness. It’s shocking how many don’t!

  4. Loved the Disney reference!

    Disney gives incredible attention to even the most minute portions of the customer experience and rarely misses an opportunity to establish creative branding.

    Creative branding is also the local businesses key to success, but few realize this or make an attempt to make a branding statement.

  5. When customers see dirty, filthy bathrooms, this obviously does not help to create good customer expercience. Apart from being clean and tidy, I always appreciate when there are flowers and candlelights, just to make everything look a bit more comfortable.

  6. Becky, great topic once again.
    I remember on a visit to Hong Kong in the late ’80s, retailers would disparagingly call the Hong Kong Tourist Association the Hong Kong Toilet Association. Turns out that the HKTA focused retailers on tourist’s biggest complaint – unpleasant, unclean, unsanitary, and otherwise uncomfortable bathrooms.
    It made a huge difference in customer satisfaction, and even the travel guide books mention the facilities in guiding customers.
    In my surveys of consumer behavior and customer satisfaction, it’s often the most-memorable incidents (good or bad) that make the difference. The bad ones seems to make the best stories that people like to tell others about, whether in person or through online social networking be it twitter or facebook.
    I won’t describe the conditions that even this hardy camper didn’t enjoy, so just use your own imagination to consider how it might be on a hot, steamy, tropical day.
    After all, I went there for sight-seeing, not for smell-smelling.