Lessons of Bathrooms and Customer Experience...


Bathrooms have always been close to my heart. 

I once oversaw a project to improve bathrooms for customers at Tesco. Many of my CMO peers from other industries thought this was a little strange. After all, no one was going to visit a store just because of the quality of the bathroom. However, the project came from a simple customer insight: if you can't keep a bathroom clean and tidy, how can you be trusted to keep food safe?

It taught me something that Disney has always preached: everything speaks. As a marketer, it was easy to focus on price, promotion, and product assortment, as they attracted customers to the store. And to keep an eye on the most visible aspects of the shopping experience that could push customers away: product availability, checkout service, and staff attitude. Yet it turned out that less obvious details such as poorly managed car parks, cluttered entrances, lines at customer service desks, and messy bathrooms also revealed much about the competence and priorities of the business, and made it less likely that customers would return.

Today, the challenge of managing the customer experience is even greater. In a world of omnichannel retailing, there are many more ways to interact with a business. Virtually every department in the business is involved, and each interaction says something about the brand. Moreover, the overall opinion that a customer then draws from these experiences can now be shared at the touch of a button, shaping future customers' perception of the brand.

There are many techniques that can be used to manage the experience, from constantly walking in customers shoes to sophisticated customer journey mapping and measurement. But there was another lesson I learnt from the bathroom project. The best bathrooms weren't just the result of policy and procedures, or investments in quality materials. Rather, they were found in stores where the manager had built a positive team environment, focused on serving the customer. To deliver a great experience in today's omni-channel world, such a culture needs to exist across the whole business...