How smart washrooms improve user experience

Businesses know that creating the right environment in their buildings will improve the experience and wellbeing of customers and staff. It’s not just aesthetics like decoration and furniture that make people happier; stimulating the senses can also fuel a feeling of positivity. 

Finding the ideal balance for optimum comfort and positivity requires cleanliness and improving conditions that include temperature, air quality, scent, noise and light. For high-footfall locations such as shopping centres, airports and leisure businesses, promoting sensory perception in this way can bring significant rewards. Customers are more likely to spend longer on the premises and recommend it to others, while staff will be happier and more productive.

Customers may not be conscious of their levels of comfort all the time, but they do notice it instantly when they stop feeling comfortable. One of the more obvious areas where that might happen is in a washroom: a facility that can leave a lasting impression of a whole business. What customers see, smell and touch in a washroom are key drivers to how they’ll feel about their overall experience. So how can smart technology improve users’ sensory perceptions inside a washroom?

Visual and fragrant cues improve the washroom user experience

There’s no doubt that first impressions count, so what a user first sees upon entering a washroom is important. It should be bright and clean, well-stocked with toilet paper and soap, and with modern cubicles and fittings that are strong enough to cope with high footfall. A good impression will maintain the feeling of positivity the user had before entering the washroom.

Waiting in line

According to queuing theorists at Ghent University, women wait for an average of six minutes for a vacant cubicle. The wait in line is particularly uncomfortable for anyone with young children, in a rush or just desperate to go.

Queuing frustrations ease significantly using smart cubicle lights on or above the door. With a simple, automatic red or green-light system, users know instantly which of the cubicles are in use. It avoids a common error of thinking a cubicle is busy when, in fact, it’s available. And it prevents that awkward moment when you push on an apparently empty cubicle door only to find it’s locked. Smart cubicle lights also report usage levels to service teams in real time via cloud connectivity. The smart technology means overly busy cubicles can be shut down, forcing people to use others. Spreading usage in this way allows a balanced consumption of toilet paper and allows for more effective maintenance schedules.

One of the most common washroom complaints is that consumables such as toilet paper or soap run out. However, in a smart washroom, sensor technology in dispensers alerts cleaning teams when refills are required. Larger soap containers also mean fewer service visits are needed. Further, maintenance or service visits can be scheduled when the washroom is less busy. All of which means anyone waiting in line will see people before them washing their hands with soap calmly and quickly and leaving without frustration. 

Time to go

A clean and fresh-smelling toilet reassures users. Installing a smart flush system intelligently injects a fragrant, blue cleaning agent with every flush, masking stains and reducing limescale. It gives a just-cleaned appearance that benefits users in a psychological and physiological way. Like the smart cubicle lights, the flush system connects to an online portal that allows service teams to monitor usage and assess precisely when the system requires servicing – doing so at a time when they know users won’t be disturbed.

Using a smart flush system to remove odours in this way makes each visit better. Research from Initial Hygiene shows that smell is one of the first things people notice, either consciously or unconsciously, when entering a washroom. The Washroom Malodour: Experiences, Perceptions and Implications of Smell for Business report notes that a bad-smelling washroom experience results in a 40% increase in emotional impact compared to the same experience with a pleasant smell.

The report adds that 91% of people look around to detect the source of bad hygiene when they encounter a bad smell, meaning malodour drives unconscious behaviours and emotions. And, according to the Initial Aircare Research report, 67% of users try to use the toilet as quickly as possible if there is an unpleasant smell. A smart washroom with a fragrant odour, therefore, means users are less likely to rush and avoid hygiene steps.

Touch – or better still, no-touch

After using the toilet, visitors move on to the basins to wash their hands. Here’s where smart, no-touch water and soap dispensers not only look good – giving the impression of a modern, well-cared-for washroom – they also have distinct advantages. Such products are easier to use – particularly for young children or the elderly – with no fiddly handles or push mechanisms. They are also more hygienic, preventing the spread of germs because users hold their hand beneath the tap or soap dispenser to operate them.

Some smart soap dispensers provide just the right amount of luxurious-feeling foam soap and are never empty (as a result of the low-level alerts sent to cleaning staff). Combined with the temperature-controlled instant running water under a smart tap, the process facilitates a faster handwashing experience. Traffic flows speed up, and the hassle-free visit leaves each user in a positive frame of mind.

Talk to the smart washroom experts and improve your user experience

With businesses wanting to improve customer and staff experience by generating a positive feeling of well-being, smart washrooms have become a key innovation. Talk to the experts at Initial to see how smart washrooms can improve your users’ experience and brand reputation – and make your servicing schedules more efficient.

Jack Lyons

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