According to the Search Insights report 2019, tech giants Google and Microsoft are putting a renewed focus on enterprise search (vertical search for information contained in business or organization databases, intranets, email, and more). What makes enterprise search interesting, and what can e‑commerce businesses learn from it?
I Can’t Get No Search Satisfaction
Sam Marshall, who carries out employee focus groups for clients on their digital workplaces, notes that employees quickly blame their IT colleagues for enterprise search failures. Yet its shortcomings have nothing to do with technical factors: 2018 research “attributes 62% of enterprise search dissatisfaction to non-technical factors: information quality and search literacy.”
Marshall claims that the discrepancy is about findability, not search, which is often a combination of searching and browsing. Let’s be more specific about what can affect the findability of content. On the one hand, information quality is how well a file is categorized when added by a user and/or indexed by the search enterprise system. Meanwhile, we take search literacy to mean how well enterprise search users can find information in the context of company language policies and often multilingual source creators and searchers.
Corporate Language Policies Are Lost in Translation
Stephanie Segura Rodas studies how “language may influence not only business collaboration but also the creation of knowledge in [a] company” in the context of enterprise search. She finds that among multilingual teams in multinational companies, there is an increased possibility of miscommunication.
A typical example is firms with English as their corporate language. Many searchers are second-language users; for example, “A German national may have a fluent command of spoken English but may not have a good enough vocabulary to construct the optimum query,” which can cause the user to be frustrated or even give up if they cannot find their desired result. This is further complicated because many countries legally require documentation concerning employees to be in their native language, making the enterprise search system a place of varying language diversity but not uniform logic or equality.
Let’s Bring It Back to E‑Commerce
Language diversity in international businesses highlights the need for a corporate policy concerning all search systems for the maximum employee (and customer) satisfaction and success.
There’s a rise in the use of search satisfaction as “a metric of overall search performance from a user perspective”–in technical terms, this means “Search satisfaction is a function of search success against search effort.”
Users are prepared to put effort into a search but at the same time are conscious of the amount of time and effort (and skill) that could be needed to achieve the search objective. There is a point at which the user makes a trade-off between effort and success, usually where enough information has been gained to reduce the potential business risk of a decision to an acceptable level.
To put this in plain language, search enterprise system users must often be satisfied with “good enough” information when they can’t find exactly what they’re looking for. E‑commerce customers, however, are different; they’re not employees. While it is possible shoppers will choose something good enough but not exactly what they want, they will more than likely abandon the search.