The Research being conducted is derived after conducting thorough literature reviews (Seddighi 2001). The objective of the research is to analyze the customer services provided by various organizations and the benefits that are desired by the customers. This study is conducted for devising plans for betterment of both the parties involved. Literature Review Introduction The aim of the literature review is to understand customer services measures taken by the organization and how these are being improved.
The major objective is to understand the importance of providing quality services to customers and further enhancements in the field. Presentation of the Literature Review The literature review is based on measuring customer satisfaction and improving it. It further explains the relation between customer satisfaction and retention. The study investigates customer requirements according to their expectations and implications. It also indicates that customer expectations evolve and change over time, so organizations should keep track of it.
Thus in order to improve performance and meet its strategic objectives, organizations should evaluate the customer satisfaction requirements and how these can be enhanced. The tools for gaining satisfaction are also identified but there are requirements to conduct research in the field of study (Bhave 2001). The other review is based on providing responses to customers for maintaining retentions. This identifies steps to improve satisfaction, but, the service setups are not taken into consideration. This constitutes a random solution and the necessary plan of action to be taken into account for customer satisfaction and retention.
Thus, it includes starting with a positive attitude towards customer problems and then retaining their business (Sykes), but ignores the fact that if a proper customer service desk is setup then the problem wouldn’t even arise in the first place. Conclusion .The first review only highlights the tools to improve the satisfaction and states that customer requirements and expectations evolve over time, therefore, a thorough research is required in this field of study to improve the customer services provided by the organizations.
It gives the bases to compose a research objective and question for review and further exploration. The second review only highlights what plan of action should be followed but a formalized approach is not defined or identified for customer satisfaction. Therefore, this also asks for more research in the field to improve customer services at all levels, as these are closely related to customer retention. Research Objective The literature review has helped in identifying the research question for the project, where providing customer services is an important tool for meeting organizational goals.
An organizations success always directly or indirectly depends on its customers. Also, customer retention is important, as the cost is already incurred to make these customers and it should be maintained. Additional costs should only lead to additional customers and profits (Gardner 2001). Research Question “Provision of high quality customer service is considered to be crucially important in private/public sector organizations”
The research methodology is a very important tool to be identified so that the research conducted can be formalized.
The research methodology selected is based on qualitative method rather than the quantitative method. The analysis is done by considering the problem at hand. This problem relates to understand important firms and their services to the customers. Qualitative Method This method is appropriate to get first hand hold of the problem under consideration. It also consists of a number of techniques for data collection which can include surveys, observations, other documentation analysis, etc. (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2007). . This methodology is selected by keeping in mind our targets and the sample size.
Since our targets are well-known firms in the market and the number is only a few, this methodology is considered more appropriate. Furthermore, qualitative analysis is important for understanding customers and their reviews for quality services by organizations (Holliday 2007). Quantitative Method An alternative methodology for research is the quantitative method, where the quantity of data is important and the research is done through measurable instruments (Creswell 2003). Since this research involves a small sample size with a set of predefined target firms so this method will not used.
Data Sources The data sources used for the research will be both primary and secondary, where explicit data will be collected where appropriate and included in the research being conducted.
The forms of data are:
Primary Data Sources
Primary data is the any data that is specifically collected for the research being conducted (Beall 2008). The research in question is based on understanding the criticality of quality services to the customers, thus, firms servicing the customers for a huge time period need to be analyzed for this purpose.
Primary data sources have many forms where each of the identified data source is analyzed in detail for the research being conducted:
Survey through questionnaires is very important for any research being conducted, as the person of concern can be contacted directly. In this case, the main concern is analyzing the importance of high quality service to customers, therefore semi-structured questionnaires are prepared to conduct interviews to the target i. e. the public/ private sector organizations (Kerin, Rudelius & Hartley 2008).
These organizations can give us the details through specialized interviews rather than beating about the bush and then coming to the point. This data collecting technique is chosen keeping in view the targets of research and the sample size. The organizations are willing to provide first hand information for such a research, where the importance of their customers is being assessed. The structured interviews will be done through the following:
Face to Face Interviews
Face to face interviews are the most appropriate form of survey as in depth questioning can be done and non-verbal expressions can be analyzed for further information (Malhotra 2008). In this case, firms are contacted for face-to face interviews through the structured questionnaire prepared. Another form of this kind of survey is the focus groups, where the customers of these firms can be involved in a discussion to analyze and understand their preferences. However, finding the set of customers and gathering them into a group is a challenging task.
Telephonic surveys are another form of the kind where the sample/target is directly contacted through telephones and the research is analyzed through the answers presented in the conversation (Philip & Armstrong 2007). In such a survey, the response is lesser as compared to face to face interviews and the interviewee might not even produce the relevant information. This form will only be used where any information is left out and is relevant to the research.
These can include emails and other mailing forms.
Emails are not much entertained in terms of survey and should be the last resort incase any ambiguities are left. Also, other mail forms are obsolete in conducting researches today and should be only used if required (Malhotra 2009). Furthermore, these modes avoid any new questions that might spontaneously occur in the mind of the interviewer. This form will only be used where any information is left out and is relevant to the research.
The observation method is used to analyze the behaviour of a person or set of persons which are relevant to the research being conducted.
In this research, observation techniques will be used to analyze the behaviour of customers of the firms that are included in the sample size. This will help in understanding the actual priorities of the customers and the factors that influence their buying behaviour. Experimentation This is a method of devising cases, where variables in the sample are dependent and their values are changed for observing their influences. The research in this case will not use this technique.
Secondary Data Sources
Secondary data sources involve using the already searched data for the research in question. This case uses the following secondary data sources: Document Analysis This refers to any internal documents related to the organization’s performance and measures to improve quality for its customers. This is very important for the point of concern. It consists of formulated data by the companies’ employees that can be used for research purposes.
Customer reviews, which is the main point of concern of this research, is yet another very important resource to conduct this research.
All reviews, whether in the form of testimonials or otherwise will help in understanding what customers look into a firm, what kinds of services they expect, and how optimum satisfaction can be attained.
Company website is also important to understand the core values of a company and its other details, with its mission and values. It also included the services offered to customer and measures that a company takes to improve customer satisfaction and retention. Once this is analyzed, then further investigation can be carried out in the field of study. Internet
The internet is a very vast source to collect information and data on all sorts of topics. Initial study for this research is conveniently carried out by browsing on the net and making use of the available sources. Sample Plan Planning the sample is very important for any research being conducted as every person that can help with the research should be considered. Sampling should be based on defining all those possibilities that can help in inferring the whole topic of discussion (Maxwell 2004). Target The research topic in this case is based on providing high quality service to customer so the sample target is divided into:
The research is conducted keeping in mind the major customer oriented firms that provide quality services. This will include SMEs, larger corporations, etc. The target is defined keeping in view the industry best practices how firms cater to these facilities to ensure customer satisfaction at all levels. Customers The target sample also consists of customers of these firms. Finding individual customers involves hassles, therefore corporations who are being served by the above mentioned organizations will be taken into consideration and their employees will be interviewed from all levels.
Sampling methodology will be based on quota sampling where selection will be done from large corporations and SMEs. In quota sampling groups are identified and then a sample size is selected from each group (McQuarrie 2005).
Once the quota sampling identifies the number of firms from each category, this number will be further catered through convenience sampling. This involves selection of companies according to research conveniences and therefore the availability of primary and secondary data sources would be assessed for selecting the company.
The interview can be conducted and entertained from known people and the company documents and other information can also be gathered from all such sources.
The Sample size is also very important factor is considering any research project. In this case the sample size is not divided into geographical regions but it is done from all and any firms that strive to provide quality services to their customers. The sample size is also chosen based on convenience of the research. This is determined through the number of contacts available in both the organizational categories i.e. larger corporations and SMEs.
The response rate is the percentage calculated by dividing the total number of responses from the total number of surveys. Consider that the total number of SMEs to be questioned were 25, if we get 20 responses and 5 are left then our response rate for SMEs is 80%. Since, here the case is of convenience sampling through proper contacts in firms, therefore a 90 – 100 % response rate is expected. Only those firms are selected which would guarantee a response rate of some kind. Pilot Study
Pilot study is an iterative method of refining the research methodology by selecting similar samples to the actual sample. This course of research also involves pilot study to generate the best possible responses through the set of designed questions.
The interview design is based on semi- structured questionnaires, where few questions and themes are defined and additional queries are posed when there are ambiguities incase the operations of firms vary. These are impromptu questions that occur in the mind of the interviewer at the time of the interview.
The design of the questionnaires is kept simple and short to gain complete insight and response from the targets. Types of Questions The research survey is focused on organizations that provide customer services and therefore all types of questions are present in the questionnaire which include:
• Open Questions – These questions encourage the interviewee to provide an extensive answer to the question asked so that all opinions and facts are revealed (Bradley 2007). This is very important for understanding the customer services that any organization provides.
This will give an insight into the problem at hand and will help in drawing conclusions of what is provided and what is expected by the customers.
• Probing Questions -These types of questions explore responses from the interviewee that are of significance to the research topic. This gives the relevant details pertaining to the research survey being conducted.
• Specific and Closed Questions – This type of questions are used to collect specific details on a topic where the answers may be predefined and precise. It forms the most of the part of any questionnaire and in this case is also used where required.
There are two types of questionnaires in our case for both our targets i. e. organizations as well as customers. These are as follows: Layout of Questionnaire for Organizations
• Organizational Details – This includes brief overview of the company with respect to its services.
• Clientele – This highlights the organization’s clientele, their names, the kinds of services delivered and the tenure of service to each customer.
• Measures of Customer Satisfaction – This includes:
• Essentials of good customer service to the organization
• Operational services of the company with respect to customer services
• Analysis of importance of the customer (this can be in terms of percentage rating)
• Company’s response and attention to customers positive as well as negative feedback
• Customer relationship management practices taken so far and additional work being done in this domain
• Dealings of variety of demands that different customers have Layout of Questionnaire for the Customers
• Customers’ Preferences- This helps in assessing the preferences of customers when they look towards a company for its products or services.
• Rating of Suppliers – This holds a value from 1-5 and the reason from the customer for ranking his/her satisfaction level.
• Degree of Value Addition – This is a rating of the supplier from customers’ perspectives for the value added services that are provided to them (Blacharski 2006).
• Measure of Customer Services- This analysis what measures are taken by the company to ensure customer satisfaction at all levels.
• Quality of Relationship with the Supplier- This evaluates customer ratings for their relationship with the company and their reasons for the rank assigned.
• Points of Contacts – Does the company provide ease to its customers to contact the relevant person. This analyzes the response from the key personnel of the company in providing guidance and support to its customers.
• Recommendations – This option is used to assess if the customer recommends the company for further products and services and what is his/her retention level
• Comments – This is an open ended field for the customer to provide any additional comments in regard to the company.
The interview schedule for each organization will be as illustrated below (Burns & Bush 2009): Id or Name of the organization: Attempt # Date Time Contact Person Interview Type Status Highlights the number of attempts made to each person in the target Scheduled Date of the interview Scheduled Time of the interview The contact person who will answer the interview within the organization and his details Type of interview i. e. face to face, telephonic or email The status of the interview i. e. done, pending, awaiting response, etc. Limitations of Interviews
Personal interview have many limitations which are:
• Time & Cost – The time and cost of personal interviews is high.
• Contact Person – The availability of the contact person is yet another limitation for conducting interviews.
• Interviewer Bias – The interviewer may be biased and can pose limitation on the answer of the respondent
• Number of Interviewees – The interviews cannot be conducted for huge sample size.
• Pre-planning – Interviews require a huge time to prepare and pre-plan. This affects the time and cost of the research.
• Analysis – The depth of analyzing semi structure interviews can be huge and difficult to compose.
• Authenticity – The interviewer cannot validate if the response is adequate and true, and he has to completely rely on the response given. Ethical Issues in the Research
• Privacy of Data – It is very necessary that data collected by the researcher should be used for the purpose of research only and privacy be maintained at all levels (Seddighi 2000).
• Intrusion – The interviewer may intrude the respondents at peak times which may cause irritation to the interviewee.
• Deception – The researcher at times may pose himself as someone else to get the answers to his queries which is unethical in conducting research.
• Representation – Other people may disguise themselves as researchers and make use of the information or raise funds through this practice. These ethical issues can be prevented through standards of research defined by official bodies in this regard. Also it is the responsibility of the researcher to look after the privacy of data, and avoid intrusion and deception. Data Analysis
Data Re-arrangement Data that has been collected has to be rearranged systematically for clear observation. This is done through the following steps: Categorization Data is classified into meaningful categories using the literature/expert opinion and self observation. This helps in analysis of details provided by the respondent. This is done through identification of key themes or patterns for further exploration Unitizing Data After categorization the data in various categories is divided into further units.
The data is then analyzed by developing a relationship matrix to generate research themes or patterns or relationships. This helps in merging or linking related data drawn from different sources. Testing of Hypothesis Based on the identified patterns or relationships, a hypothesis is created and tested. In this research case, the hypothesis shows dependency that quality customer service is very important in public/private sector organizations. Limitations of Marketing Research
• Behaviour Prediction – For any marketing research the prediction of behaviour is an important tool, but there are limitations attached.
Since there are a huge number of variables in every study, the future of this prediction is not consistent (Miles & Huberman 1994).
• Time and Budgetary Constraints- Many organizations, although aware of the benefits attached to gather personal data, do not make investments as the time and money involved are huge.
• Reliability of Data – The research requires accurate data and assurance, which is a challenging task. These measures are very important and incur additional costs, but without them the research is useless.
• Legal and Ethical Issues -The official bodies and standards are also a constraint for conducting marketing research for the researcher. They have to abide by the rules and regulations and ethical code of conduct for each research being carried out (Patton 2001).
• Decision Making – Marketing research studies what is already present and strives for future decisions. Report findings are based upon perspectives of the researcher and the sample size is also chosen from a huge population, so appropriate decision making is also a very challenging task for the researcher.
Measures to Overcome the Limitations All the limitations for such a research can be obtained through close correspondence of the researcher and the respondent. In this case, it as been clearly communicated to the firms and customers that the research is done for benefit of the whole market and industry and the data will be kept confidential, after being used for the research purpose only. Furthermore, a rational decision will be developed, keeping in mind the provision by the companies to their customers and the limitations to these. Read also are newspapers necessary nowadays
Research is a very important tool for any organization to improve its operations. The study here will aid the organizations to improve their quality on customer services and therefore will ensure higher retention and satisfaction. This research contains a 360 degree view of what an organization provides and what is desired by the customers in order to benefit the whole mechanism of purchase and sale. References Beall, Anne, 2008, Strategic Market Research: A Guide to Conducting Research that Drives Businesses, IUniverse Bhave, Ashish, 2001, Customer Satisfaction Measurement, Symphony Technologies
Blacharski, Dan, 2006, Superior Customer Service: How to keep customers racing back to your Business, Atlantic Publishing Company Bradley, Nigel, 2007, Marketing Research. Tools and Techniques, Oxford University Press Burns, Alvin C & Bush, Ronald F, 2009, Marketing Research, 6th edn, Prentice Hall Creswell, J. W, 2003, Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches, Sage Publications Gardner, Bob, 2001, What Do Customers Value, Quality Progress Holliday, A. R, 2007, Doing and Writing Qualitative Research, 2nd edn, Sage Publications
Kerin, Roger A, Rudelius, William & Hartley, Steven William, 2008, Marketing, 9th edn, McGraw-Hill/Irwin Malhotra, Naresh K, 2008, Basic Marketing Research, 3rd edn, Prentice Hall Malhotra, Naresh K, 2009, Marketing Research: An Applied Orientation, 6th edn, Prentice Hall Maxwell, Joseph A, 2004, Qualitative Research Design: An interactive Approach, 2nd edn, Sage Publications McQuarrie, Edward F, 2005, The Market Research Toolbox: A Concise Guide for Beginners, 2nd edn, Sage Publications Miles, Mathew B & Huberman, Michael, 1994, Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Source Book, 2nd edn, Sage Publications
Patton, Michael Quinn, 2001, Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods , 3rd edn, Sage Publications Philip, Kotler & Armstrong, Gary, 2007, Principles of Marketing, 13th edn, Prentice Hall Saunders, M, Lewis, P & Thornhill, A, 2007, Research Methods for Business Students Seddighi, H. R, 2000, A Framework for Research, University of Sunderland Seddighi, H. R, 2001, Writing a Critical Literature Review Sykes, Ed, 2010, Customer Satisfaction Secrets: Six Secrets of Outstanding Customer Retention, Available at www. thesykesgrp. com [Accessed April 30,2010]