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A Lesson on Search Satisfaction from Enterprise Search

Luigi's Blog | August 1, 2019

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 eCommerce 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 are quick to blame their IT colleagues for the failures of enterprise search. 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 are able to 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 common 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 by the fact that 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 eCommerce

Language diversity in international businesses highlights the need for a corporate policy concerning all search systems for 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. eCommerce customers, however, are different; they’re not employees. While it is possible shoppers will choose something that’s good enough but not exactly what they want, they will more than likely abandon the search.

Intrigued? Check out our recent article on the newest innovations in improving eCommerce search