The Importance of Cleanliness


Managing the Customer Service Experience


Lesson Info

The Importance of Cleanliness

Now, cleanliness. Cleanliness means a lot to me, cleanliness means a lot in the restaurant business, but cleanliness is one of those things that is so simple, and so easy to correct, it's astonishing when people don't do so. I almost wrote an entire book on cleanliness, but my editor was like, "Ehh, let's get some other stuff in there." So yeah, cleanliness to me is really really important 'cause it's a messenger of the experience they're gonna have, it's a messenger of your attention to detail, it's the messenger of your intention if you're in business. And this is something that's completely and totally controllable. It's an extension of customer service. It's gonna impact your guests positively or negatively. So who has an example of cleanliness being a positive? What's a positive experience that you've had where something's been clean? Clean and fresh? I mean, when you get into an Uber and it's clean, and it doesn't smell like one of those hanging trees, and it's like clean, this...

is pleasant, you know, and it is noticeable. Yes it is noticeable, right. So in that moment, you step in the Uber, it's clean, it feels good, what happens to you? What's the first leap that you make? Trust. Trust. I trust that driver, like they care about their space, though it kind of jumps that they're probably a safe driver, there's like some intention behind-- That's right, that's right, so they're controlling the things that they can control, right? Cleanliness being one of them, and so it puts me at ease. I feel like I can trust them. On the flip side, when have we seen like a dirty, yucky place, and it makes me go, ohh, no, no, no, never going back there? Yeah? I've actually had people come to my place for the Airbnb because they've left a place because it smelled. That's happened to me twice. I can't believe that. Seriously? Wow. Yeah, they've actually left the place where they were, and come to my place. Wow. So, the experience at the other place was so bad because it was smelly? Right. Right. Yeah, cleanliness and odors, those are in the same little pot there. Yeah, yeah. Exactly. That's exactly right. Evidently, of all our senses, smell is the most memory associative. So when we smell things, it goes right to your memory banks. Unlike visual, unlike taste, okay, smells, like we can remember smells from our childhood. I remember my grandmother after my grandfather died, she moved to our hometown, and she got an apartment, and I had never seen an apartment, we always lived in houses. And I was like, an apartment, how cool is that? Like, made for one person. And then she was moving in, and she unfurled her new shower curtain, and it smelled like vinyl, and it smelled like petroleum products, or something like that, but the association in my head was new and clean, and like freedom. She had this new apartment, this new lease on life in a way, and something about the smell of that shower curtain. Whenever I get even a whiff of that, I must of been about 10 years old, and whenever I get a whiff that's even slightly like shower curtain, I just feel like everything's gonna be great. It's this funny thing, but that's how powerful memories are of smell. So we have to be careful with smell, because it can be a wonderful thing that makes us feel safe and comfortable, it can be a horrible thing that makes us think of bad things that shouldn't happen in real life. So, yeah we gotta be careful of those things 'cause the positive and negative impact are just too close together sometimes. So, we, ooh, missed an s. Cleanliness is expressed through, as we know, a visually clean environment. I know I do a lot of assessments for my clients, which means I'm gonna go in and see what their service is like, and how they're enacting their service, and I always look for cleanliness. So that's the first thing, we always look at stuff to see if it's clean. Is the glass door free of fingerprints? Or is it covered in fingerprints? Is the floor dirty? Even before you enter a business, what's going on outside? Are there cigarette butts and napkins and paper cups on the floor? In the parking lot, what's happening there? Is it clean, or is it a little unkempt? So these are all things that we're gonna look for, and these are all things that again, that message, did somebody pay attention? Or did somebody abandoning the idea of our customer experience in this space? So visually clean is incredibly important, like you say, clean smells. So we want things to smell clean, fresh. Be aware of too clean, right. I was somewhere the other day, and the scent of Pine-Sol was completely out of place. It didn't make sense, it was too clean, and too antiseptic smelling. So it was a little too much in that space, and I was like, oh make it go away. So clean is good, too clean or antiseptic is sometimes out of place. Smells that are in alignment with your business. So, what are smells that would be good for some businesses? If you're a coffee shop, smell like coffee. Exactly, yeah. Coffee shops, bakeries, what other kind of smells? Chocolate. Chocolate, exactly. Yummy food smells, absolutely. I know one of my favorite smells actually is when I go get my shoes repaired, is that shoe shop repair smell. Leather. Leather and polish, that's a appropriate smell for that business. If that were in the bakery, there'd be like, oh my god, what's going on here? Yeah, so there's certain scents that are alignment with a business, and out of alignment. If you go to a spa, or a place to get a massage, it should smell like eucalyptus and lavender, lemon maybe. But if you smell lavender and eucalyptus in a restaurant, it doesn't smell right, that's an inappropriate smell. So make sure that the odors that you have are in alignment with your business. Just 'cause you like lavender, doesn't mean it works in your business. You have to be careful of those things. Order and organization. Has anyone ever been thwarted from buying because there was disorganization or lack of order in a shop that you've gone into or business you've been into? I know it's happened to me a number of times. Right, go in, you go to the shelf, and you're like, it should be right here, and it's not there, and you're like, oh, where is it supposed to be? I'm looking for this thing and it should be here, and it's not there. So organization and order is a really big thing, especially in retail where people help themselves. So when the order is not correct, the organization is out of alignment, this is a really big thing. There was a study done, I think it was students at the Wharton School of Business, and they studied, do you remember Borders bookshop? It was around a few years ago, it has gone out of business. But they discovered, and they coined the term phantom stockout, where there was a book in the store, and because it was a hot book of the moment, or it was on a certain topic, they would move the book out of its usual spot and then put it on an end cap, so that end of the aisle, or they would put it with you know, like staff favorites, or you know, books about politics, whatever that would be, but they would completely move it out of its normal spot and put it there. So people when they were going to look for their book on that political thing, would go to the political place, and they couldn't find it, and they're like, oh they don't have my book, and they would leave. Oh, the book's there, it's just been moved to this highlighted spot. And they realized that they were losing thousands of sales because of this phantom stockout. People think the product's gone, and the product's actually sitting right there. So that comes down to organization. How well organized is your business? Is it organized? Is it orderly? Are things were they're supposed to be? Is it internally organized? Like, when someone comes up and says, do you have that book on politics? And they say, yeah, it's on aisle C3, and halfway down. If it's not there, internally they don't even know, that's a problem. So organization can really be a problem for people, when they can't find what they need, or if you can't find what they want. And then maintenance. (clearing throat) Excuse me. Maintenance is a big one. Every business when they start out, all new and sparkling, right? Looks so good, it's all shiny, and then a year in, the door's a little wobbly, and the table got a little nick, and the baseboards are a little scuffed. Maintenance can send a message that we're not noticing, and again, back to our first lesson, noticing equals what? Caring, right? So when we notice things, people feel cared for, but when we don't notice, people feel like you don't care. So maintenance is a big one. So maintenance could be obvious in your space, of course, it can also be obvious on your site. What are the updates that you need to do so that things can load appropriately? What are some of the options that everybody else is doing and that you're not doing? Regular maintenance of your website's actually really important. Can people access things? Is it up to date, and is it working? So these are all things that we need to think about because cleanliness is not just clean, it's all of these things, organization, maintenance, the odors, and the actual visually clean stuff. We've talked about this, cleanliness will enhance the trust that people have in your business, dirt, disorder, and disrepair will create doubt in you and your abilities, and this is what's kind of astonishing. People don't think that cleanliness actually refers to them, but it does. Now, being a restaurant person, do you all know the Zagat guide? The restaurant guide? So, back before the internet, this little red book, you would find your restaurants there, but the idea is that they divided the categories into three different categories, so the reviews were 30 points for food, 30 points for service, and 30 points for decor. Now, I always thought that was really interesting, because the owner of the Zagat guides, Steve Zagat said that of all the complaints a business gets, actually 75% of them are related to service. So 30/30/30, but wait a second, of all the complaints, 75 are on service, which makes me think that actually, the weight is not equal. Service is a catchall for all these other things. Cleanliness goes into service, 'cause when people are looking around, they don't say, the place is dirty, the cleaning team is no good. They're gonna say, the place is dirty, the service is no good. The place, there's no maintenance, people don't pay attention to the maintenance here, no one cares, and that's gonna fall into service. So we have to be careful, because customer service is the catchall for all the things that people might find dissatisfactory in your business. So you have to be careful for it, 'cause it's a messenger, it's an arbiter, it's something that will carry forth your mission, and if it's dirty, if it's wobbly, if it's not maintained, it's gonna create doubt there, so we have to be careful of that, 'cause that's a big one. That's why I almost wanted to write a whole book on cleanliness, 'cause again, it's so controllable. Look around, create a standard of cleanliness, create training guides for your team. At some places I've created daily, weekly, monthly cleaning tasks. So there's certain things we clean every day, there's certain things that we clean once a week, there's certain things that we clean once a month, and making sure following through, that all those things are being taken care of will keep your operation in good shape, your operation, and also your website. Yes? One other thing is watering your plants. Thank you. I feel like that is really, you walk into a business, and when the plants aren't watered, I feel like that is part of cleanliness too, is like, maintenance of your, the living things that are in your business. That's right, yeah. Plants are a big one actually, 'cause what I look for when I do an assessment is is there dust on the plants? 'Cause in restaurants sometimes you have these palm trees where there's dust all over them, like, oh my goodness, like, dust your poor palm tree, water your hydrangea, you know, like, attend to these living things. And that's, I think it's a really strong message too 'cause it is living. So if you can't keep that thing alive, if you don't have an interest in keeping it alive, then all of a sudden that I notice, I care turns into I don't notice, and I don't care. So I agree with you, plants are a big one. Save the plants, it's important. So just, you know, keep calm, water your plants, it's gonna be good. (men laughing)

Class Description

Why is good customer service such a challenge for so many businesses? Because customers (i.e., humans) can be unpredictable, demanding and sometimes argumentative. Even if you have an exhaustive plan in place, your customers are guaranteed to throw you a curve ball. That means you’ll have to be ready to hit it out of the park.

When faced with an unhappy—even angry—customer, business people can get flustered. Even the best of us sometimes lose our cool and respond with frustration or rudeness. This course aims to prepare you for the most difficult situations, so you can uphold your commitment to customer satisfaction and turn even the most troublesome customer into a fan.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Avoid the common pitfalls of customer service.
  • Address the most common situations you’re likely to confront.
  • Present your brand and your business as courteous, classy and caring at all times.
  • Turn an unhappy customer into a happy camper.
  • Find solutions to problems that work for your customers and your business.
  • Keep your calm even in the most heated circumstances.
  • Know the difference between satisfaction and perfection.
  • Come up with thoughtful language to use for different types of customers and circumstances.
  • Gain confidence in addressing uncomfortable situations.