In Singapore last week, on the way out of the mens room at Changi Airport, I spotted this interactive console — which asks patrons to evaluate their experience by touching one of five ratings buttons:

Leaving aside my germaphobe’s resistance to touching a screen after washing my hands, I cast my vote for “Good” — because the restroom was pretty good and because I didn’t want Mr. Liu to suffer if others had somehow given the joint low marks.

Question: Do you think these sorts of things are useful in improving public places? Would they change your experience by making you more conscious of it?

21 Responses to “Emotionally intelligent Tuesday — Part 3”

  1. Amir Chaudhry says:

    Not much use in improving standards if the user is biased by seeing Mr Liu’s face (as you say you were).

  2. Tom Weaver says:

    If ever there was a case for Kinect-like gesture-based interaction, this is it!

    On a serious note, whilst collecting customer feedback is good, I wonder if it is asking the right question? The thought process you followed was less about your actual experience and more about the consequences of your vote. In itself, that means the information you provided was not actually useful in helping the staff take the temperature of whether the facilities are good enough. This may have also been a result of including an employee picture on the image, however.

    It is good, however, that they are paying attention to toilets. In most experiences with a servicescape, from restaurants to hotels to schools, toilets often feature as a make or break component in the guest/customer/learner perception of their experience. In schools, there is significant evidence suggesting that poor quality and poorly designed facilities is causing major health issues.

    My final thought is that this is likely to collect quantitative information, but real service improvement often comes from qualitative information, as this is more likely to provide insights as to what can be improved…

  3. Chuk says:

    For most of those systems where the customer is rating staff performance, anything less than the highest rating counts as a fail.

  4. Yes and yes! I think they’re cool Daniel! I think they make the one responsible for cleaning more aware and they would make visitors perhaps a bit more respectful of the space.
    The bottom line is they tell you the company cares.

  5. Joe McCarthy says:

    I imagine the intended referent of “these sorts of things” are mechanisms for customer feedback [in restrooms].

    However, if you’re willing to accept an alternate interpretation, i.e., that “these sorts of things” may also include examples of displays in restrooms, I wrote a blog post about some of my encounters with urinal-based display marketing and captive micro-audiences a while back that may be of interest.

  6. carolyn says:

    my concern is that others who have psuhed the button had NOT washed their hands! maybe the question asked should be “if you think these facilities are clean please press the green button. If not, press the button on the floor with your shoe!”

    After all, if it’s dirty, you wouldn’t want to press a button, now would you?

  7. Justin says:

    Beyond rating your stay in the restroom, it seems like this type of sign can increase the users sense of responsibility for care of the restroom.

  8. David Locke says:

    A restroom is really a collection of measurements (webpages). Did the patron put the seat down, stand, sit, flush, use toilet paper, user seat cover, wash hands, use air dryer, use paper towels, open door with hand, open door with paper towel, open door with toilet paper, open door via other means, miss targets, use urinal, clean up space afterwords, get spewed on by low-volume toilet? Measure time in stall. How much toilet paper did patron use? Water? Did patron change clothing? Did patron deal with medical processes? Did patron change a dyper? Tons of questions. Find the grammar of restrooms. A single closed question isn’t going to do much.

    Measure without consequences coming into play.

    Then figure out exactly what the numbers mean.

    Am I ever happy in a public restroom? No.

  9. Ida says:

    There is an ongoing debate in Sweden regarding students rating their teachers in primary and secondary school. It is an interesting question. Can teacher grading improve the quality?

  10. Ian Watson says:

    I know some guys who work in facilities management and their views about the hygeine of such boards was a (slightly disturbing) revelation.
    As feedback goes, its pretty simplistic but its better than no attempt to collect feedback at all.
    If they persistently collect a lot of poor / not satisfactory, then I guess that would trigger a more detailed, qualitative investigation but as a first step this is simple and easy for the customer to participate – probably a winner for the company and does give the customer a voice which has to be good, surely?

  11. AFTER they wash their hands, of course! πŸ™‚

  12. Don says:

    Of course, this apparent mechanism for “feedback” is also a “message to” those using it – “we, the airport/restroom staff, care about your experience and your feedback.” Did you feel a positive vibe when responding? If so, perhaps the machinery accomplished it’s mission despite the relatively undetailed data that it garnered?

  13. Paul Dunn says:

    These signs are but one example of why Changi has won 350 plus awards in the past 3 years, Daniel. I’m wondering if you saw the flies in the urinals too β€” a brilliant ‘aiming device’ that, according to the research, cuts down what the researchers euphemistically refer too as ‘spillage’!.

    Let me know if you need some photos.

  14. Alan McNab says:

    Yes on both accounts. Cleaning public bathrooms, I would imagine, is a pretty thankless job but an important standard that must be maintained for everyone’s health and safety. Mr. Liu is performing a service; he needs to know how he is doing, and his customers now have a way to show their thanks or desire to see the service improve. In my experience, Mr Liu probably has a little more spring in his step knowing that he’s taking care of customers and not just toilets.

  15. Andy Smith says:

    Whether or not the user is biased by seeing Mr Liu’s face, the ups and downs of the ratings will give Mr Liu an idea of whether his service is improving or declining, so it’s still useful.

    Also useful to remind users that there’s a human being who has to clean up their mess.

  16. Paul Stanley says:

    I also saw this system in Changi a few months ago (and also took a photo as I thought it was pretty cool). The cleaner saw me doing this and we ended up having a conversation about it. He didnt understand why I found it so interesting (are these systems else where in Singapore?).

    I think it is a great system as it provide a mechanism to get quick feedback. As to whether having a photo of the cleaner is good is debatable in my mind. Good because it makes him visible and so must take responsibility. Bad because it might sway you to leave a good (or bad) piece of feedback simply based on how the cleaner looks.

  17. kathi says:

    Great Idea for all public places human-beings share.

  18. Cathy Mosca says:

    Chuk (comment #3) is right! I got an evaluation sheet for a car dealership where my brother-in-law works. I varied my responses so it would look as if I had thought about it rather than just checked the box for exceptional on every question. He got called on the carpet for not doing his job well! Even though I hadn’t ranked the experience below “very good” on any aspect. Too bad none of this is likely having the effect we’d want, that is, a source of suggestions for improvement, but only being used for punishment. Or, that’s how I feel now, and I’ll never rate any worker or service experience as less than exceptional again.

  19. Will Thomas says:

    I’m not sure if this sort of thing creates a better attitude toward customer service, or simply reflects a better attitude that existed in the first place. What do you folks think?

  20. Nice example Dan! We have actually been working on an evaluation instrument to do ’emotional experience sampling’ in a hotel service environment. I think these tools can definitely help management and service providers get better insight in the experience of their service. However, the example you showed imo is a bit ‘flat’. It evaluates overall satisfaction, but I don’t think it really measures/ evaluates a richer type of experience. In our tools, more distinct emotions are being portrayed by characters (for example see PrEmo, LEMtool, CapturEmo or PanorEmo).
    That way, you can evaluate emotions such as interest, surprise, disgust or boredom. I think a service should do more than just satisfy people, especially in this time and age where we like to indulge ourselves continuously in ‘experiences’.
    In our hotel service research we got some great results and insights to improve specific parts of the service. I do understand that going to the toilet is just one of the touch points in a hotel and not sure whether we should evaluate more than satisfaction here… but well, why not?? Mr. Liu will appreciate your “pleasant surprise” when you walk into his freshly mopped floor πŸ˜€

  21. pablo roux says:

    Consumers being empowered to engage is the best way to promote consumer interests

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