"Utilitarian afterthoughts given little actual real thought. Did you say the bathrooms in your discussion were secure? Where in the airport do I "securely" put my luggage (expensive PC in tote) while squeezing my XL frame into the M-sized cubicle? Strangely, in college I remember the bathrooms having shelves and coat hooks ... was I hallucinating?We own a coffee shop. First thing tonight ... we address all your suggestions."Really, this is an exercise in thinking through the customer experience at even this most humble of levels"
We started this one week Bathroom Blogfest as a fun little group project. But as reader Jack captured in the note he sent me, it is a great "exercise in thinking through the customer experience." Which was really the point, and I'm delighted it worked.
This topic really resonated with people. When I told people, the initial reaction was typically a "that's weird" response, immediately followed by personal observations, recollections, frustrations and wishes.
My hair guru, Jonathan Torch, told me how wonderful the Disney bathrooms were for a young family. How these bathrooms were legendary among his friends with young families. The memory was so powerful, I asked how long ago this was... well, his teens were in strollers then, so more than a decade. Turns out lots of people are fans (see resources below).
What we learned
I completely underestimated the power of this issue. Marketers and experience engineers need to pay attention to this issue, because expectations are rising. People care, they remember, they are judging and evaluating all elements.
At even the simplest level of traffic, you have to think that all those people who stopped in to use the Starbucks facilities probably bought something too, just as Linda Tischler reported doing.
With changing demographics, the developed world expects facilities to accommodate them. No one wants to stay home because your bathroom can't accomodate their scooter. And in the developing world, this issue is just starting to emerge. It's going to be big there, just like it was here, when we said "no" to dingy gas station bathrooms and started stopping at McDonald's instead.
How to spend a week without really trying
Without the organizational skills of consultant and author Stephanie Weaver, who pretty much acted as project manager, none of this would have happened. [Thanks Stephanie!].
It was fun, and we may just have to do it again in a year. [Steph, you should be fully recovered by then, right?]. And thanks also to Cynthia Jones who helped with press releases.
Quite apart from the puns and double-entendres, there was some great content too...
This sort of thing just doesn't work as a solo event ... thanks to all the official and unofficial contributors:
Linda Tischler at Fast Company Now networked in the bathroom line-up at Pop-Tech, blessed Starbucks for providing the needed facilities in the needed places and showed us a bus bathroom that puts the airplanes to shame. We felt proud to be in such esteemed company.
Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology gave us an education in what works and what doesn't, with an amazing collection of pictures from around the world. Her latest post makes it clear that you can either extend your brand or detract from it, by how much attention you pay to the water closet. The most memorable ones, for me, were the kid-friendly sink and the urinals shaped like flowers.
Christine Whittemore at Flooring the Customer definitely was our energizer bunny this week, posting detailed and daily with lots of links to cool stuff. And of course, CB was the only one of us who paid any attention to floors, her particular area of expertise. If in doubt that your retail customers notice, check out CB's posts. They notice, they talk, they care.
Jackie Huba at Church of the Customer found good-looking diaper changing tables with diaper-genies to dispose of the smelly aftermath while shopping on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
Sara Cantor at the Curious Shopper examined the whole handwashing and don't-touch-this-it's-got-germs thing. After finding out how many people don't wash their hands, I'm definitely taking the Purell with me in future.
Maria Palma at Customers Are Always toured us from Starbucks to Tijuana and back. She wants a place to put her purse, and I think we all agree on that one.
Sandra Renshaw at Purple Wren joined late, but made up for it with the great signage she photographed, and the world's fastest hand-dryer.
Reshma Anand provided eyes and ears into a very different customer experience, and one that is rapidly evolving, in Bangalore. And lobbied for all of us for better, cleaner airplane bathrooms. We all thank you for that, Reshma!
Dee McCrory at the Ultimate Corporate Entrepreneur, David Polinchok at Experience Manifesto, Bill Kinnon at Achievable Ends, Kent Blumberg at Leadership, Strategy & Performance all picked up on the theme and added their own thoughts. [Apologies if I missed someone here]
I encourage you to check out the bathroom design page at the American Restroom Association, here. It's a volunteer organization, and they are interested in help, feedback and ideas.
Cassworld: Disney bathrooms are documented in more than a hundred photographs on this site. Note the presence of vending machines in many of them, which contain things like diapers and wipes. Note the presence of towel dispensers right above the sinks. MousePlanet has ratings for each Disney bathroom.