The Relationship between Cleanliness & Customer Satisfaction (Part 1)

cleanliness and it's importance to customers

Ming Palace Chinese Restaurant

Understanding customer satisfaction is something critical for any business, because a customer’s sense of satisfaction is a significant predictor of behavioural intentions, in other words, what they are most likely to do when they buy.

Today I am taking my efforts to write a truly useful commercial cleaning blog to the next level, by looking at academic studies done by social scientists around customer satisfaction.

Now as a bit of a precursor to this article, I don’t mind telling you, academic writing is really dry. It took something for me to stay focused and sift through all the jargon. But when I did, I found some really interesting findings that I’m sure most people don’t get to read about, and over the next few months, I’ll be sharing and discussing some of the findings I came across that I think are interesting to anyone who owns or manages a business.

The first study I’m looking at is called:

Perceptions of Chinese restaurants in the U.S.: What affects customer satisfaction and behavioral intentions? By Yinghua Liu and Soo Cheong Jang of Purdue University. The article was first published in the “International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management in 2009 on pages 338–348. You can find the entire paper online here.

Ok, in a nutshell here's what I found most interesting about this article:

1. First, this study used one of the most widely accepted theories of Customer satisfaction, the expectancy – disconfirmation theory.

The expectancy - dis-confirmation theory in an interesting concept. According to this theory, a customers’ satisfaction is the result of comparisons between the customers’ expectations and the perceived performance of the supplied goods or services.

Boiled down into layman's terms, this theory asserts that if the perceived performance of goods or services exceeds the customer’s expectation - the customer will be satisfied, but on the contrary, if the perceived performance falls short of the customer’s expectation - the customer will be dissatisfied.

2. In this study of Chinese restaurants, the authors surveyed 287 people to identify the attributes that influenced their opinion of their dining experience.

The attributes surveyed were designed to shed light on how the physical environment, food and service combined to create a customer’s overall experience of value, and even more importantly, the impacts that their perceptions of value have on their habits around dining out, i.e. the choices they are likely to make in the future when going out to dinner.

3. Twenty-four attributes were studied, and they are listed in the table below:

Highlighted attributes my emphasis – Nicholas Pastras

The study found that the top four attributes that influenced and inform someone’s experience of satisfaction in a Chinese restaurant are taste, food safety, food freshness and environmental cleanliness.

Now here are three very important things that I take away from these findings

    1. There are a lot of attributes in their list, including fair price, food authenticity, food presentation and a variety of aspects about customer service – all of which you’d think would be extremely important when it came to rating client satisfaction in a Chinese restaurant, but they all came in well below environmental cleanliness!
    2. When you consider what the study found to be the four most significant attributes influencing a customer’s sense of satisfaction, the quality of cleaning in the restaurant is relevant to two of them, food safety and environmental cleanliness.
    1. By reasonable implication and extrapolation, this suggests that how clean any restaurant is, is going to have a significant bearing on how satisfied their clients are likely to be.

    Now I realise I am a cleaning company CEO researching and writing about client satisfaction, but even I am surprised at how highly aspects of cleanliness correlated with customer satisfaction ratings, and how important they were to the customers in this survey.

    This certainly makes a strong case to owners of any food business that customer perceptions of hygiene and cleanliness are extremely important to your success.

    Over the next few months, I intend to look at similar studies like this one, done in other commercial environments. I’ll force myself to struggle through the dry scientific preamble and get to the bottom of what scientists think drives satisfaction in business, and share the results with you.

    What I hope You Get From This Article

    I hope you found this article more interesting than the typical lightweight rubbish you find in cleaning blogs online, and if you do, I’d like you to appreciate that my efforts to put something more interesting and significant into our blog, is a reflection of our entire approach at Smart Cleaning Solutions.

    When I started Smart Cleaning Solutions, I wanted to bring a standard of excellence to a cleaning service, beyond what other cleaning companies were doing, because I truly believe in doing things better, and that the quality of what you do makes a difference to customer satisfaction.

    As a CEO, that’s what I stand for in our business, and so does the entire team here at Smart Cleaning Solutions. From the cleaners at the coal face cleaning your business, right through to the account management, office staff and senior management; everyone embraces and shares these same values.

    That’s how we engineer our efforts to stand out in our industry, by doing things better!

    Author Bio: Nicholas Pastras is the CEO of Smart Cleaning Solutions, one of Australia’s fastest growing commercial cleaning companies. At time of writing he has 23 years’ experience in the commercial cleaning industry.