An Examination of the Cultural Implications of Customer Satisfaction in the High Technology Industry

By Bleuel, William | Business Renaissance Quarterly, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

An Examination of the Cultural Implications of Customer Satisfaction in the High Technology Industry


Bleuel, William, Business Renaissance Quarterly


Abstract

Customer satisfaction has become a very important aspect of business management in the high technology market. Companies that provide products and services worldwide often are concerned that customer satisfaction may be impacted by cultural differences. This study examines measures of customer satisfaction in areas around the world to determine whether or not there is a difference in satisfaction scores provided by Help Desks. A sample of more than 150,000 surveys from 9 companies in the computer and medical electronics areas was used. The statistical results at a 5% confidence level indicate there is a difference in customer perception in Help Desk technical support. The results clearly indicate that companies need to understand these differences in order to optimize the use of their resources and to adjust their service offerings to respond to their different customer needs and expectations.

Introduction

Companies that provide service world-wide want to maintain their market position. One way to do that is to provide a level of customer satisfaction that meets or exceeds their customer's expectations in each unique market. While customer satisfaction does not necessarily imply customer loyalty, it is usually considered one important factor of customer loyalty. Since the high technology industry has such a short half-life (the time from one generation of product until the next), technology companies must spend large amounts of money to support their products to assure customer loyalty.

The Study

A study has been conducted that examines customer satisfaction for 9 multinational companies in the high technology industry in the area of Help Desk. Help Desk (often referred to as tech support or technical support) in this study refers to the telephone support provided by companies to customers who have a problem that they cannot resolve themselves. For this study, the designation of the geographical location was determined by the customer (not the location of the Help Desk). The primary purpose of the study was to test the statistical null hypothesis that measures of customer satisfaction would not be different in each area of the world. The alternative hypothesis was that the measures of customer satisfaction would be different. The hypothesis was specifically tested in the area of Help Desk for computers, computer peripherals and medical electronics equipment.

Key Assumptions and Rationale for the Key Assumptions

The primary assumption for this study was that service levels for Help Desk provided by each of the 10 companies are about the same for each geographical area. Each of the companies uses a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to define the parameter limits for service and has generally implemented these service performance parameters consistently in every geographical region. One point to consider is that even if the service metrics in the SLAs are significantly different in each geographical area, these differences may, or may not, have a significant effect on the customer's perception of the service provided.

The rationale for this primary assumption of similar service levels for each company in each region of the world is based on the following aspects of the study:

1. The same companies are providing service in each of the geographical areas. Thus, each individual company is controlling the level of service in every geographical area.

2. The same or similar industries are included in the study. Each company has products of approximately the same level of complexity.

3. The exact same measurement system has been used to measure customer satisfaction for all ten companies.

4. The same company has taken all the measurements.

What Was Not Studied

It should be pointed out that there were some limitations to the study. In particular, the data was grouped into a single data base. Even though the data covered a 2 year period, there was no attempt to detect differences year-over-year.

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