Into the light: effects of the presence of cleaning staff on customer experience

Martijn Christiaan Vos, Jessica Sauren, Olaf Knoop, Mirjam Galetzka, Mark Mobach, Adriaan T.H. Pruyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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The purpose of this paper is to determine how the presence of cleaning staff affects perceptions and satisfaction of train passengers. Day-time cleaning is becoming increasingly popular in (public) service environments. It is however unknown how the presence of cleaning staff in the service environment affects perceptions and satisfaction of end-users.

Two experimental field studies were performed. Data for the first study were collected on the trajectory between the train station of Assen and the station of Groningen (N = 506) in the northern part of the Netherlands. Data for the second study were collected on the trajectory between train station “Amsterdam Amstel” and train station “Utrecht Centraal” (N = 1,113) in the central part of the Netherlands. In the experimental condition, two cleaners collected waste and performed minor cleaning activities (i.e. empty trash bins, cleaning doors and tables) during the journey. After the first study, cleaners received hospitality training and corporate uniforms.

The presence of cleaning staff positively influenced train passengers’ perceptions and satisfaction. Effects were stronger in the second study, after the second consecutive intervention (i.e. hospitality training, corporate uniforms). In both studies, the presence of cleaners positively influenced passengers’ perceptions of staff, cleanliness and comfort. The perception of atmosphere was only significant after the intervention.

Practical implications
The findings of this study allow in-house and corporate facility managers to better understand the possible effects of the presence of their cleaning staff on end-user perceptions and satisfaction.

The study’s value lies in its human centred approach by demonstrating the importance of day-time cleaning. This area of research has been largely neglected in the field of facilities and (public) services management research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-102
Number of pages12
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2019



  • Hospitality
  • Field study
  • Cleanliness
  • Corporate uniform
  • Day-time cleaning
  • Train journey

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