Cleanliness Is the New Key to Customer Experience
To help customers feel comfortable doing business with your brand, you need to improve and promote sanitary practices.
With economic reopenings around the corner or already underway, even as the coronavirus seems like it will stick around in some capacity for the foreseeable future, businesses that prioritize and publicize cleanliness will be the ones that excel at creating a great customer experience.
In doing so, these companies will be the ones more likely to weather this economic storm. And similar to how the virus cuts across economic strata, companies of all sizes have an opportunity to excel at cleanliness.
Don’t Discount the Importance of Customer Experience
The increased focus on customer experience in recent years has helped many brands differentiate from competitors and keep customers coming back in an age where it’s easier than ever to comparison shop. If companies fail to provide a great customer experience, customers can easily search for and access alternative options.
‘Even if people love your company or product, in the U.S. 59% will walk away after several bad experiences, 17% after just one bad experience,” finds PwC research.
While factors like providing personalization to customers and incorporating sustainability into a brand still matter, cleanliness will take on an elevated role in the age of coronavirus, particularly at B2C brands like restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.
Still, B2B brands should also pay attention to this trend and find ways to promote cleanliness as they reopen offices and invite clients back in. B2B companies and freelancers can also help their clients adapt to these changes, such as through new marketing copy, design materials or software that helps keep track of new cleaning protocols.
What Will a Cleanliness-Driven Customer Experience Look Like?
To help customers feel more comfortable coming into your place of business, brands need to take new measures to improve cleanliness and make physical distancing more practical, with the customer’s point of view always in mind.
For example, as the Los Angeles Times reports, hotels will shift from promoting more personal interactions, such as with front-desk staffers, to instead emphasizing their housekeeping teams and contactless offerings like mobile room keys. Hilton has even partnered with the Mayo Clinic and the parent company of Lysol to improve and promote cleanliness. The partnership will potentially include measures such as placing the “Hilton CleanStay Room Seal” on doors to signify that a room has not been accessed since its last thorough cleaning.
Restaurants and other food and beverage establishments also need to make cleanliness more visible, beyond relying on restaurant grades.
Think of the most recent season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. If you haven’t seen it, Larry David opens a coffee shop, “Latte Larry’s,” to spite “Mocha Joe’s” next door. Ahead of his time, Larry puts hand sanitizer on each table for customers to use.
In real life, which coffee shop would you feel more comfortable visiting? One with readily available hand sanitizer, or one next door without? This type of seemingly small detail can make a huge difference on customer experience, and therefore, boost sales.
Companies can also make their cleaning crews more visible. Like hotels highlighting housekeepers, retailers can market what their associates do to keep stores clean, and if they use a cleaning service to sanitize stores overnight, they should promote these partnerships rather than treating this as behind-the-scenes work.
For example, social media posts and commercials sometimes feature stories about retail associates in an effort to create more of a connection with customers. Now, cleaning crew and protocols should similarly be featured to help customers feel more comfortable.
In addition to improving and publicizing cleaning measures, companies can also improve customer experience by implementing and promoting contactless measures, such as curbside pickup, virtual appointments and touch-free payments where possible.
A global Mastercard study conducted over February and March 2020 found that 79% of respondents are using contactless payments, with most viewing contactless as “the cleaner way to pay.”
Giving customers contactless options can also tie into other key aspects of customer experience, such as efficiency and even sustainability. For example, B2B brands that host client events can gauge interest in turning more to virtual meetings, both as a way to physically distance while also reducing the climate effects of business travel.
Ultimately, cleanliness protocols and promotion do not need to necessarily be groundbreaking. By simply tuning into what makes customers feel comfortable while adhering to requirements and recommendations from health and government officials, companies can create a better customer experience that will make it easier to succeed in this new era.