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Understanding Customer Expectations In Different Global Cultures

For companies that operate across multiple regions, cultural differences add a layer of complexity to customer relationships. How can a company consistently deliver experiences that are consistent with its values and brand promise, while still meeting local standards of respect and good service?
As with any issue involving culture, the challenge is quite multifaceted.
One factor to take into account is a culture’s tangible customs which include behaviors around timeliness, rules of etiquette, and tendencies towards frankness or discretion. These expectations are often relatively easy to learn through observation — which is good, because providing satisfactory service depends on your ability to get them right consistently.
But as anyone who’s lived and worked in another culture knows, tangible customs are informed by underlying expectations that are much harder to understand and explain. For example, a certain culture might have certain habits around timeliness, but beneath those behaviors are a variety of assumptions about prioritization, respect and professionalism. These assumptions are often so ingrained as to cause confusion or frustration when they’re questioned. But understanding them is critical to establishing strategies for dealing with customers appropriately, as well as for instilling values that help employees act appropriately when things go off-script.
A recent Medallia study offers evidence of the variance of customer expectations from country to country. The study drew from over 13 million customer feedback data points across 15 languages to see which countries tend to be the strictest and most lenient when grading the experiences they receive.
There were interesting individual findings. For example, French speakers from France — who are regularly stereotyped as being rude and unforgiving — gave on average higher satisfaction scores than any other country in Europe. But an even more striking finding was the range of average scores: a massive 38-point difference between the most lenient group (Spanish speakers in South America) and the strictest (Japanese speakers).
The takeaway: companies have a wide variety of expectations to take into account when adapting their experiences to multiple cultures — and in measuring the impact of those experiences.
You’ll find the study’s complete findings below:
Cultural Bias for blog

Photo Credit: Gabriela Pinto

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