A smarter washroom
With the adoption of digital technology growing stronger year by year, it’s no surprise that even our surroundings and infrastructure are becoming smarter. The Internet of Things (IoT) – a network of sensors and controls – is automatically monitoring our buildings to provide increased levels of comfort for users while easing the operational responsibility. Using this ‘smart technology’ in buildings not only makes better use of space and creates more pleasant environments, it reduces operating costs, helps meet sustainability goals and enhances brand reputations.
And yet washrooms can be overlooked when it comes to digital solutions. Making washrooms smart can deliver efficiency savings and improve user experiences, while helping to meet sustainability goals — especially in high-footfall venues such as shopping centres, stadia, visitor attractions and airports. Smart technology in washrooms can also have a significant and positive impact on your bottom line and on your brand – in a competitive landscape when consumer expectations are rising.
The customer experience
Every one of the places where your company interacts with customers’ needs to deliver a standard of service, quality and experience that reflects your brand. Customer experience is now a key competitive differentiator. That makes washrooms a critical ‘touch point’ for your business.
Research conducted by Initial shows customers’ perceptions of brands are strongly influenced by the state of their washrooms, with 77% of consumers perceiving a business more or less favourably according to the state of its washrooms. Sustainable business practices are often cited by retail analysts as the second most important reason — after product quality — for consumers to return to a brand. So it is possible that some customers might judge washrooms on how well they appear to support a brand’s commitment to sustainability (according to leaking taps or dryers that go on after the user has finished, for instance).
For various reasons, it’s therefore important that customers find themselves in washrooms that bolster a brand rather than ones that create negative impressions. And yet washrooms tend not to get the same attention as other customer-facing areas of a business. Smart technology provides the visibility, control and insights to help you manage washroom issues so you can create a washroom experience that will delight customers, and yet be environmentally and economically sustainable.
The ‘smart’ benefits
Investing in smart washrooms creates a more favourable impression of your brand and, ultimately, gives a significant return on investment. It benefits your business in four main ways.
- They can provide better washroom experiences for customers, with available consumables, shorter queues and a sense that washrooms are well cared for.
- More ecologically sound facilities can help you meet sustainability goals as smart washrooms use less water and soap by dispensing optimised doses and there’s reduced packaging waste because consumable containers are sized to match footfall.
- Smart washrooms provide more efficient washroom services because cleaning and maintenance is driven by data. Efficiency and productivity of cleaning teams are boosted by planning cleaning schedules based on actual use and predicted busy times rather than at fixed intervals.
- The biggest benefit of smart washrooms is that they provide facilities managers with intelligent insights to help make better operational decisions and plan effectively for the future.
Data flowing from smart fittings can be displayed in an online management portal that provides real-time views of metrics, analytical tools to spot trends and patterns about overall customer behaviour and personalised insights about each washroom – or even about areas inside each washroom. Such information can be used to make quicker and more informed decisions about current operations and future plans. And these, in turn, can deliver better customer experience, environmental sustainability, and operational efficiency.
Weighing up the options
Whether you’re including smart washrooms in a new development or a refurbishment, it’s vital you invest in smart technologies and fittings that are right for your building.
Things you should look for include the following.
- Technology and fittings that can be incorporated into your washrooms with far less disruption and inconvenience than ethernet-based systems.
- Technology that’s easy to use and operate.
- Technology that’s secure and conforms to your company’s existing IT security policies.
- Technology that provides real-time visibility and analysis of consumables and other washroom metrics with an intuitive interface that’s accessible on any device.
- Robust fittings that can reliably cope with the level of demand in your washrooms.
- Beautiful designs that will create a great first impression when users walk in.
- High-volume packs of consumables that mean they don’t run out as quickly, and which reduce refilling and limit plastic waste.
Digital hygiene — the smart choice
Customer experience, sustainability and service efficiency are all key concerns for building owners and facilities management teams. Investing in smart hygiene solutions can deliver significant benefits — especially in high-footfall venues such as shopping centres, stadiums, visitor attractions and airports. The effect of deploying the right smart washroom technology on brand reputation, customer loyalty and customer spend could also be more significant. The question is not whether you should invest in digital hygiene solutions, but whether you can afford not to.
For a more in-depth view of smart technology in washrooms, the research behind the technology, and what it could mean for your business, download our whitepaper – Smart washrooms: hygiene for the digital age.