New tool measures perception

18th of May 2023 Article by John Griep
New tool measures perception

VSR director John Griep tells us about a new measurement tool that focuses on perception.

VSR and industry organisation Schoonmakend Nederland have commissioned the development of a new measurement tool. This instrument measures the perception of cleanliness by premises users. This is somewhat different from cleaning quality, which is already measured with VSR-KMS. Why does VSR consider cleanliness so important that we create measurement tools for it?

For nearly 30 years, VSR-KMS has been the measurement instrument for technical cleaning quality in the Netherlands. It was, and continues to be, a huge asset because it is unambiguous, reliable and objective. This is essential in the food industry, healthcare and in laboratories. The flip-side of the coin for offices and schools, among others, is that VSR-KMS measures only the minimum acceptable level of cleanliness (making that the standard). It measures whether a cleaning company adheres to contract agreements.

We feel this is no longer sufficient. Society has changed. The experience economy is dominant and society is more critical. Even when it comes to products, consumers choose not only functionality but also the experience when they buy, receive, unwrap or use the item(s). The consumer and the user are the focus today. And, in view of this, you might well ask: how does it benefit the property user to know that the cleaning company has kept to the contract agreements and achieved the minimum acceptable level of cleanliness?

This social development prompted VSR and Schoonmakend Nederland to commission the development of a measurement instrument to measure the perception of cleanliness. We asked Dr Herman Kok to work on it. He is involved with Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and is an expert in facility management. Kok is currently working on an independent measurement tool that will be similar in structure to VSR-KMS, with a standardised questionnaire, analysis method and dashboard. It will be ready after the summer.

A major difference from VSR-KMS is that this tool focuses on the holistic cleanliness experience of users. This means people perceive their environment as a whole. Individual characteristics such as interior, colour, smell and light lead to a cohesive image. So it is a combination of stimuli that affects the cleanliness experience and the impression a property has on a user.

This means the assessment of the cleaning experience is partly beyond the control of the cleaning company. Improving the cleanliness experience goes beyond a simple focus on capacity. It involves understanding the spatial characteristics in a property and interventions that affect those characteristics (and thus the cleanliness experience).

As a cleaning entrepreneur, what do you actually gain from this? After all, your influence on this perception is limited. Perhaps the biggest change is in your relationship with your client. A shift is needed: from a risk-averse client, who commissions an economically driven performer, to a cooperative relationship between client and cleaning contractor. A relationship based on mutual trust, in which the property user is given an important role.

After all, cleanliness is scientifically proven to contribute to health, well-being, loyalty, satisfaction, productivity, a sense of safety, pro-social behaviour, reputation and study success. Even without a measurement tool, these insights offer plenty of reasons for you, the cleaning expert, to engage with your client about the effect of cleanliness perception on the core process.

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