Application Technology - Odor - Imagination or Reality?
I cleaned it. I neutralized all odours. BUT: the customer says it still smells. Could it be his imagination?
Surely you have asked yourself this question at least once.
A simple example of how this could come to pass: you had a customer who has cats and were asked to clean several rooms where the odour of cat urine was strong. You proceeded to disinfect the areas, cleaned them and neutralized all odours. Upon finishing the smell of cat urine was no longer present in the house. The customer is satisfied and you are too.
A few days later you receive a call from a very put out customer - the urine smell is back with a vengeance.
Is this claim based upon the customer's imagination or is it actually true? Is it actually cat urine odour or is it a psychological odour?
You arrive at the customer's house and take a look and smell at your work and - you do not perceive an odour of any kind. You share this observation with your customer and try to explain in as diplomatic a way as possible that there is such a thing as psychological odour. This type of odour is based upon imagination and in your opinion this is such a case. This statement is rejected by your customer with a loud voice - it still smells like cat urine!
In this case you will not accomplish anything with arguments. It is now a matter of goodwill or...
What is psychological odour?
To explain this we will begin with a classic example in psychology: Doctor Ivan Pavlov carried out an experiment with his dog. Every time he was about to feed his dog he would ring a bell. He repeated this procedure for a period of several months.
After this time the dog was in such a state that it would begin to salivate in anticipation when it heard the bell ring (its mouth literally began to water!), prior to being fed.
At this point Doctor Pavlov stopped feeding his dog in this manner.
Still: anytime the dog would hear a bell ring it would begin salivating in anticipation.
This type of behaviour is the result of a procedure that is called behavioural continioning. In laymen's terms: programming the behaviour in a certain way.
This type of programming is not restricted to dogs or animals - it may also happen to us. When we enter a room that has a pleasant scent, and it turns out that this scent is present when we enter this room repeatedly the possibility exists that one will perceive the smell even when it is no longer there. Of course the same thing may happen with a bad smell, as was the case in the example at the beginning of this article.
Even if this scent is no longer real in actual sense, it is real to the customer since his brain is sending him signals that it is.
This is the fact that makes the situation not only difficult but often explosive: how is one supposed to convince someone from the opposite, if it is absolutely real for the person?
One way to possibly convince the customer is through having lived through such an experience oneself. Should one have made this experience, one can often suceed in convincing the customer by relating the experience in a personal manner - psychological odour no longer sounds bad if it is a shared experience.
How to solve this problem otherwise? Another possibility: try to reprogramm the behaviour of your customer.
This means that you should proceed in the following manner or similarly: after finishing your job cleaning and deodorizing you should treat the affected surfaces with a suitable scented product. If possible, treat the doorframes too. This will introduce a positive scent into the rooms which should last several days to, if possible, a week. This will change the perception of the customer and may prevent a complaint caused by psychological odour from occuring.
However, before you start to treat the surfaces with a scented product you should ensure that nobody that uses the rooms has allergies or intolerance to scented products. This will save you a lot of trouble.
By the way: if you are asked to treat odour problems in a household where pets are still present you should avoid making any guarantuees about 100% removal: the odour problem will arise again since the accidents that occurred in the past will occur again in the future.
Last but not least: for the treatment of urine stains and odours we recommend the combined use of our products Acidic Pre-Spray and BioFresh. You may not be able to solve the problem permanently (if pets remain) but it will lead to success after cleaning and, with the right explanation to your customer, also to a satisfied customer.
Another item of interest connected with odours: odours can also influence those who are not subject to psychological conditioning (see prior article).
We all associate cleanliness with the fresh scent of lemons. How did the Mr. Clean ad from over 20 years go? With the fresh scent of lemons!
An article concerning this topic was published in the Sunday paper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" on 11 December 2005 with the title: "Putz-Zwang: Ein paar Tropfen genügen." Translated: The urge to clean: A few drops are enough.
This article referred to a study in which one half of a group of students were exposed to the scent of a lemon scented cleaner for some time. The entire group was then offered cookies which were brittle and caused a lot of crumbs. The half that had been exposed to the scented cleaner tended to wipe up the crumbs three times more often than the other half.
In addition three times as many said they wanted to clean up at home as soon as they got home than the other half. In conclusion: the scent of cleaning products motivates to clean!