Where people are from makes a difference’and likely skews their contributions to collaborative or VOC systems.
A couple of years ago someone asked me if I was from New York. The fact is I’m from Chicago but I think I understood what they were saying’I speak like I know what I’m talking about; I know what I want’and probably I intimate that I’d like it right now (please).
The fact is when you ask your customers what they think their responses may be skewed in tone depending on where they’re from. Let’s remember voice of the customer response collection systems’in fact any collaborative technology, is still a form of social network and the interactions occurring there should be interpreted with a tempered understanding of the social backgrounds of the participants.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe them nor accept rudeness nor push for more than what you’re getting.
It just means you should at least consider where any given comment is ‘coming from’.
The USA reflects three different attitudes
For instance people from the US can be divided up into three regions with somewhat predictable responses.
Those in the Midwest, Great Plains, and Deep South can be relied on to be ‘people who are, on average, conventional, friendly, sociable, compliant, and emotionally stable.’ Just like the voice of the newscaster, you can expect responses to questions to come through on an even keel. ‘Gee Whiz! Us folks from Chicago go to bed early!’
Those primarily from the Western portions of the country are ‘people who are, on average, creative and relaxed, reserved, and perhaps somewhat socially distant.’ Their responses can be expected to be leavened with a friendly frankness. ‘No problemo, mi amigo!’
Lastly those folks from the Northeast can be counted on to be ‘people who are, on average, irritable, impulsive, and quarrelsome.’ So don’t be surprised when their frankness is less than friendly, it’s just their nature. ‘Beep Beep’Move it!’
Extreme Weather can produce Rich Innovators!
I manage the idea management group on LinkedIn and a big chunk of the LinkedIn groups I belong to have something to do with Innovation. So together with my work (which is international in scope frequently) I get to talk to people interested in Innovation from all over the world. A couple of years ago I noticed a high percentage of innovative people coming from The Netherlands.
I was motivated to ask a couple of these folks why that was. Predictably the answer I got was something on the order of ‘it’s cold here so we spend a lot of time in doors thinking, talking and drinking beer’. I don’t think that’s quite it.
Studies do show those both affluent and from demanding climates (cold or hot) have the most freedom and opportunity. Because of this they tend to be open minded and are comfortable seeking risks. They’re creative thinkers who are happy to share their opinions.
Where you’re from makes a difference.
We all work to have a social media ‘voice’. Sometimes the collaborative contributions we read in news feeds are affected by the geography of the contributor. Don’t take offense at the tough guy from New York; don’t think the guy from California is slack; don’t be surprised to get a bunch of creative thought from wealthy people in either Denmark or Saudi Arabia. Just like Real Estate, when it comes to the Voice of Your Customer the three top important attributes might just be location location location.
Rentfrow, P. et al., ‘Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates,’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (forthcoming).
Van de Vliert, E., ‘Climato-Economic Habitats Support Patterns of Human Needs, Stresses, and Freedoms,’ Behavioral and Brain Sciences (October 2013).