Companies are all eager to know the level of satisfaction of their global customers.
Although field surveys still exist, clients are increasingly being asked to give their opinion via applications. The results enable companies to take corrective action or to reward employees responsible for a high level of satisfaction. International companies can use the results of these surveys to motivate their various subsidiaries to improve or compete.
A comparative study of customer feedback presented at a Software engineer conference in Sweden (*) shows that without cultural knowledge of participants, the analysis of survey results is meaningless.
Indeed, significant differences are attributable not to individuals’ opinion but rather to their cultural conditioning when they express their opinions.
In other words, a good assessment may lead to different scores from country to country, regardless of respondents’ personal opinions.
The study compares several countries stating that a good assessment corresponds to a maximum score in South Africa and the United States (5/5) In contrast, a Dutchman or a Frenchman will never give a maximum score even when the person is completely satisfied. The logic of the French is that nothing is perfect, it is always possible to do better. The study in question shows that English Canadians do not give a maximum score either but settle for 4/5 when they are very satisfied. A Finnish contributor says that a score of 3. 5/5 is already considered very good in Finland.
Cultural differences are also noted in some Asian countries. Therefore, these numerical scores cannot be compared.
In addition to the score, the presence of feedback and advice for improvement are also intrinsically linked to the respondents’ cultural conditioning. Therefore, a lack of comment related to a good score does not mean that the respondent is satisfied. It is possible that in the respondent’s culture, people refrain from expressing a negative experience into writing. It is also possible that out of respect for others, respondents do not want to cause any trouble to these who might be taken responsible for the dissatisfaction.
Therefore, when respondents from some countries complain or make suggestions for improvement, it only means that it is culturally acceptable to do so in their culture. Conversely when they do not comment, it should be verified that they are satisfied as it cannot be granted from their response.
To effectively compare survey data on an application, it is necessary to know the implicit rules that underlie the feedback process. These data make it possible to weight the results and draw conclusions that are closer to reality. Otherwise, the raw data collected on these applications may lead to misinterpretation if the person analysing the results expects a maximum score when an opinion is favourable.
What applies to a survey on an application also applies to a market survey or to the assessment of a candidate in a job interview. Technical and professional skills can only be effective if they are combined with cultural knowledge and skills.
(*)Emitza Guzman, Luis Oliveira, Yves Steiner, Laura. C Wagner, Martin Glinz 2018 User Feedback : a cross-cultural study. In ICSESEIS’18:40th international Conference on Software Engineering:
Software Track, May 27-June 3, 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden)