Quality is a topic of everyday conversation in the services sector despite the difficulty faced in trying to actually define and measure it for services. Due to its subjective attribute, quality can be understood differently by different people. Consumers may focus on the specification quality of the product or service, that is, by making comparisons to competing products or services. On the other hand, producers may measure the conformance quality or degree to which the product or service was produced correctly.
Service quality (SQ) has become an important topic because of its apparent relationship to costs, profitability, customer satisfaction and customer retention . SQ is widely regarded as a driver of corporate marketing and financial performance.
Many researches have been carried out in the field of service quality and the well-known instrument for measuring service quality was developed by Parasuram, Zeithaml and Berry in 1986. Commonly known as SERVQUAL, this instruments have been used across the world to measure service quality in various sectors such as the banking sector, the telecommunication sector, etc.
1.2 The Companies Division
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The Companies Division is a Department which operates under the aegis of the Ministry Of Finance and Economic Development. It administers the Companies Act 2001, the Business Registration Act 2002, the Insolvency Act 2009, The Limited Partnerships Act 2011 and The Foundations Act 2012.
The Companies Division has the following main functions(a) the incorporation, registration and striking-off of companies(b) the registration of documents that must be filed under the Companies Act 2001(c) the provision of company information to the public(d)the enforcement of compliance with the legal requirements (e ) the registration of businesses(f)the Insolvency Service and the registration of Limited Partnerships and Foundations
The Companies Division was certified to ISO 9001:2000 in 2006. Since then, it has maintained its certification and it is now certified to ISO 9001:2008 i.e. the latter is the latest version of the Standard .
In addition , the Companies Division was the grand winner of the Public Service Excellence Award in 2006 and 2011.This is a unique achievement in the sense that it is the only public organization that have received the award for two times .
1.3 Research Context
According to the ISO9001:2008 Standard, an organization has to regularly conduct customer satisfaction surveys for monitoring the quality of its services. As part of its surveillance audit, the MSB carry out an evaluation of the effectiveness of the customer satisfaction surveys at the Companies Division based on the record available but it do not itself conduct an independent customer satisfaction survey
As for the Public Sector Excellence Award, the assessment of service quality is carried by a panel of evaluators that uses an abridged methodology of the Malcolm Baldrige Excellence Quality Award .
As to date , few academics research has been carried to determine service quality in an ISO 9001:2008 certified public sector organization .However , most of the studies have used the SERVQUAL Model to determine Service Quality (i.e. an external focus) but have failed look into the internal factors in an organization that contribute toward service quality . As such this study will try to identify the internal factors in an organization that contribute toward service quality as well as determining service quality
1.4 Research objectives
The purpose of this research is to
determine the level of service quality at the Companies Division
determine the internal factors at the Companies Division that have contribute towards service quality
compare the level of service quality of the companies division with organizations operating in other sectors
1.5 Research questions
In order to meet the research objectives, the study will try to answer the following questions:
What is the level of customer satisfaction at the Companies Division?
What are the factors that enable Companies to deliver a quality service ?
1.6 Significance of the study
In order to conduct the study, the SERVQUAL model will be used .The study will identify the factors that assist an organization to deliver a high quality of service to its customers in a public sector environment. In addition, it will determine the relevance and the applicability of the SERVQUAL Model at the Companies Division
1.7 Literature review
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Service quality affects customer satisfaction. Satisfaction is influenced by perceptions of service quality, product quality, and price as well as situational factors and personal factors.
Service quality has been a frequently studied topic in the service marketing literature. Efforts to understand and identify service quality have been undertaken in the last three decades. The construct of service quality as conceptualized in the service marketing literature centers on perceived quality. Zeithaml (1987) defined it as a consumer's judgment about an entity's overall excellence or superiority
Grönroos (1982, 1990) noted that the quality of a service as perceived by customers has three dimensions: functional (or process) dimension, technical (or outcome) dimension, and image.
A topic of particular interest in service quality research is the issue of measurement. Much of the research to date has focused on measuring service quality using the SERVQUAL instrument.
As already mentioned, SERVQUAL was developed by Parasuraman et al (1987). It is founded on the view that the customer's assessment of SQ is between the gap between what the customer expects by way of SQ from a service provider and their evaluations of the performance of the service provider.
The model consist of 5 dimension : reliability, assurance, tangibles, empathy, responsiveness. These are commonly known under the acronym of RATER
In addition, Parasuraman et al. developed a 22-item instrument with which to measure customers' expectations (E) and perceptions(P) of the five RATER dimensions. Four or five numbered items are used to measure each dimension.
The instrument is administered twice in different forms, first to measure expectations and second to measure perceptions. According to the model, Customer satisfaction is the positive difference between perception and expectation
Brown et al., (1993) commented that the research on the instrument has been widely cited in the marketing literature and its use in industry has become quite widespread. They concur with work of Parasuraman et al (1985) that service quality is a multidimensional or a multi-attribute concept
Grönroos, 1990 criticized the SERVQUAL model as being a the instrument mainly focuses on the service delivery process .Brady and Cronin( 2001) opine that there is no general agreement as to the nature or content of the service quality dimensions . In the views of Cronin and Taylor (1992), the model lack validity especially with respect to the dependence or independence of the five main variables.
1.8 Research Methodology
9.1 Research Methodology
Research according is concerned with problem solving, investigating relationship and building a body of knowledge . Methodology is about a way of thinking about and studying a social reality so as to systematically unearth the reason behind a phenomenon (Kothari, 2005)
1.8.1 Type of Research Approaches
There are three type of research. These are detailed below:
(a) Exploratory research
Exploratory research is a type of research conducted when a problem has been clearly defined. It helps determining the best research design, selection of subjects, data collection method. Secondary research is therefore based on exploratory research. Hence, research that is conducted with an intention to explore is called exploratory research.
(b) Descriptive research
Descriptive research describes data and characteristics about the population or phenomenon being studied. If the purpose of the research is to describe, then the study is considered to be descriptive in nature. It basically gives the researcher a choice of perspective, terms, levels, aspects, concepts, as well as to observe, register, systemize, classify and interpret.
© Explanatory research
The desire to know 'why' to explain is the purpose of explanatory research. Explanatory research is applied when the issue is already known and has description of it. Furthermore it builds on exploratory and descriptive research and goes on to identify the reasons for something that occurs. Explanatory research looks for causes and reasons.
The method that will be adopted for this study is an explanatory research
The methodology for this research will be a exploratory and explanatory research.
1. 9 The Research Process
The research process will be completed in six steps are mentioned as under:
1. Identifying the research problem
2. Defining the research problem
3. Determining how to conduct the research or the method
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4. Collecting research data before analyzing
5. Interpreting the data
6. Presenting the results
1.10 Preliminary information gathering
Sekaran (1992) defines preliminary data gathering as the search for the information in order to build up the researchers understanding towards the area of the subject. These will gathered from conducting a literature review of articles and publication on the subject of service quality. In addition, the annual report and other published documents of the Companies Division will be studied
The researcher aims is to study the application of SERVQUAL techniques in I measuring the service quality at the Companies Division
The population for this study of service quality will be the public and the corporate users of the service of the Companies Division. The population for the study of the internal factors that contribute toward service quality will be the management and staff of the Companies Division.
Sampling is the method of selecting an adequate number of elements from the population so that by studying the sample and understanding the properties of the features of the sample subjects, one can generalize the properties of features to the population element
For the general that public that uses the counter service of the Companies Division, a sample of 70 users will be identified. Data will be collected a using systematic random sampling over a period of one week.
As for the corporate users, data will be collected from accountancy firms and from firms offering secretarial service . It is expected to collect data from at least 10 organizations.
For the staff and management of the Companies Division , the sampling frame is described below :
The sample has been framed to collected data from 50 % of the respondents in the management and support staff grade
1.14Data Collection Instruments
The main instruments that will be used to collect primary data are specially designed questionnaires. In fact, this is the most common form of collecting data for a survey.
The questionnaire will be designed in such a way to capture the respondents' needs and their perception of service quality . In addition, the views of the personnel will be gathered on the system , culture , infrastructure and leadership that is in place to provide a quality service .
For measuring service quality , respondents will be given a set of 22 statements as per a modified SERVQUAL model and they will be required to opine on the degree of agreement and disagreement with each of the statement on a rating scale of 1 to 5 as set out below:
5 - Strongly agree
4 - Agree
3 - Neutral
The 22 statements will be categorized under five dimensions of perceived service quality.
Tangibles, which pertain to the establishment's physical facilities, equipment, support services .
Reliability, which refers to the unit ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately.
Responsiveness The willingness to help customers and to provide prompt service
Empathy The provision of caring, individualized attention to customers
Assurance The knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence
For measuring the internal factors that contribute towards service quality , The questionnaire consists of a set of closed ended questions , dichotomous question a and open ended questions that will gather views and opinions on a set of statements .
As part of the survey, the questionnaire will be pre-tested under field conditions. The pre-testing will be done so as to identify weaknesses, ambiguities and omissions. The pilot stage, in fact, is very important in ensuring that the questionnaire is adequate for collecting the required data.
1.16 Developing hypothesis
A hypothesis is a possible answer to the research question. It can be further defined as a logically conjectured between two or more variables expressed in the form of testable statements. It is an educated guess about a problems' solution. In this respect, a series of hypothesis testing will be carried out so as to meet the research objectives.
1.17 Data collection
The first step in conducting a primary research is to gather relevant data related to the research issue. This will be done through administering the questionnaires as well as conducting structured interviews
1.18Analysis and Interpretation of data
At this stage, the researcher will validate the data that will be received and these will be analyzed using SPSS software package version 17. The researcher will used both descriptive as well as inferential statistics to draw reasonable conclusion from the analysis.
1.19Writing the dissertation
The last phase of the research will be the writing and submission of the dissertation and this will done as per the requirement set out by the University of Mauritius
1.20 Ethical Considerations
All participants will be briefed on the purpose of the research. In addition, they will be given the choice to discontinue participating in case they feel so.
In addition, participants will be told that information obtained will be treated in strict confidentiality and anonymity will be maintained both during and after the survey.
The management of the Companies Division has been contacted and the researcher has been given the green light to proceed. Finally no potential harm has been identified for those that will participate in the study.
1.21 Time Frame
The time frame for conducting the research is given in the Gant Chart
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TIME FRAME -GANTT CHART
1 -11 March
Identification of research proposals
Design of questionnaire
Issue and collection of questionnaires
Analysis of information
Assessment and Evaluation
Formulation of recommendations
Writing of report
Editing , binding and submission of report