Systematized Effort To Gain New Knowledge Marketing Essay

2523 words (10 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Marketing Reference this

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According to Redman and Morry research is defined as a systematized effort to gain new knowledge. In other words, research is a mean to increase the knowledge about people and process in working organisation

According to Cooper and Emory (1995), research methodology can be defined as a “systematic inquiry aimed at providing information to solve problems.” The research methodology section varies significantly in the subject matter which consists of research procedures that shall be used to asses customer satisfaction by the services offered by CEB.

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Problem definition

This is a crucial step in the success of a research study. The purpose of the study must be well defined and understood so as the researchers are able to derive the correct method to collect the appropriate and relevant data to remediate the problem.

Therefore, the problem definition for our study is as follows: “To assess customer satisfaction and service quality at Central Electricity Board and to find ways of how to improve the service quality based on consumers’ expectations”.

Research Objectives

The aim of this study is to assess service quality at CEB and in order to achieve this aim. The following research objectives have been derived:

To analyze customer perception of service quality using the SERVQUAL model.

To describe the characteristics of CEB consumers

To study the difference between male and female consumers with respect to perception of service quality.

To study the overall perception and expectation of service quality in CEB.

To make recommendation and suggestions based on consumers’ expectations on how improvements can be done.

Research Hypotheses

According to Cherry (2004), a hypothesis can be defined as “a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables. It is also a specific, testable prediction about what you expect to happen in your study. Moreover, “A hypothesis is a statement that specifies how two or more measurable variables are related” (Churchill, 1996).

Besides the research objectives which were mentioned above, this research study also consists of the following hypotheses that shall be tested throughout the survey based on the framework for improving service quality.

Hypothesis 1

H0: There is no difference between male and female customers with respect to perception of service quality

H1: There is a difference between male and female customers with respect to perception of service quality

Hypothesis 2

H0: There is no relationship between the age of customers and perception of service quality

H1: There is a relationship between the age of customers and perception of service quality

Hypothesis 3

H0: There is no relationship between customers regions

H1: There is a relationship between customers regions

Hypothesis 4

H0: There is no difference between the overall perception of service quality and expectation of service quality

H1: There is a difference between the overall perception of service quality and expectation of service quality

Data collection methods

Qualitative data

A qualitative exploratory case study is used to investigate the research questions. It is an approach which explores a phenomenon or a new area within its context using various data sources where the theories available are limited, measurement is unclear and the interventions being evaluated have no clear, single set of outcomes.

Quantitative data

According to Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, Y. S. (2000), “quantitative studies emphasize the measurement and analysis of causal relationships between variables. Proponents of such studies claim that their work is done from within a value-free framework”. In other words, Quantitative data are statistical analysis data which helps in answering a research question which involve measurement.

Therefore in order to determine the customer satisfaction levels in relationship to the service quality of CEB, the quantitative approach will be used as it is more adaptable to this study. Since the purpose of this research is to assess the service quality of CEB, the data collected can be generalised due to large number of respondents. Furthermore, up-to-date data on the perception of consumers on CEB service quality is needed and only quantitative method could allow the gathering of such data. Therefore, quantitative approach has been selected to collect primary data which is the living part of this research. However, it is important to note that this study is not only based on primary data but is also a mixture of secondary data.

Data collection method

It is important to determine what information is required and how to develop a plan of collecting such information. “Primary sources provide the ‘raw data’ that is use first to test the working hypothesis and then as evidence to support your claim”(Booth et al. 2008).

There are different methods to collect data. It all depends on what type of data is required. The most appropriate method that shall be used for the collection of data for this survey is the questionnaire survey method.

Design Data Collection Forms

For this study, a questionnaire was designed to collect information to know the perception an expectation of CEB consumers.

Structure of Customer Questionnaire

The questionnaire is divided into five sections:

Section A

This section contains the statements that shall be used to assess the perception of customers on service quality.

Section B

This section contains the statements that shall be used to assess the expectations of customers on service quality.

Section C

The question in part C will determine the services offered by the agents of CEB.

Section D

This section consists of a mixture of dichotomous and multiple response questions to assess the evaluation of the customer service agents at CEB.

Section E

This section consists of an open-ended question which will determine the recommendations in order to improve the service quality at CEB.

Section F

Finally, the last part of the questionnaire contains dichotomous and multiple choice questions in relation to personal details of respondents. This part will be used to test our four hypotheses.

In this study, a five points Likert scale will be used as a measuring tool. this measuring tool has been chosen as it better captures the perception of the respondents as it contains five possible options ranging from: 1- Strongly Disagree, 2- Disagree, 3- Neutral, 4- Agree, 5- Strongly Disagree. “The measurement of service quality using the five dimensions of SERVQUAL, has been proven to be successful using a seven Likert scale” (Cui, Lewis and park, 2003). However for this research, a five point Likert scale will be used since the respondents shall be intercepted at the customer service offices of CEB itself. This decision has been made to reduce the time of response and to make the respondents more comfortable.

Justification of questions

Section A and Section B

These sections contain 22 statements each of which attempt to measure the GAP 5 in the GAP model. These statements are divided into five dimensions which made up the SERVQUAL model thus enabling us to identify both the perception and expectations of our respondents on the service quality being delivered to them.

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Section C

This section consists of only one question (Question 11). The purpose of this question is to evaluate the service quality delivery of the different types of customer service agents like technicians, meter readers, inspectors and customer service agents in the offices of CEB.

Section D

This section contains five questions which have been included in the questionnaire to assess the access of information and the quality of information.

Question 12: This question has been set to know how customers of CEB get information about any update in the organisation.

Question 13: The purpose of this question is to know whether the customer service agents are providing their customers with the exact information, for instance to know the extent to which service is being delivered in an appropriate way.

Question 14: This question will help us understand the level of comprehension of the consumers of CEB.

Question 15 and 16: This part has been included in the questionnaire to study the service delivery by telephone.

Section E

This section consists of one question (Question 17) and will be of high contribution to the assessment of service quality at CEB. The purpose of this question is to better understand the perception and expectation of electricity consumers.

Section F

This part contains three questions (Question 18, 19 and 20) which will help us to obtain useful information about the background of the customers.

Pilot Testing

After the questionnaire design, a pilot study was done to remove any unambiguous questions as well to assess how far the questionnaire is answering to the aim of the study. Sample questionnaires were distributed among 20 customers in the customer service office in Curepipe for the purpose of pilot testing. Based on the feedbacks, Question 11 was reformulated in a simpler way for the betterment of the respondents.

DETERMINING SAMPLE SIZE

Sampling

According to Freedman and Wachter (2003), “sampling is extrapolation from the part to the whole(from the sample to the population). There is an immediate corollary: the sample must be chosen to fairly represent the population.” They also stated that “Methods for choosing samples are called designs and good designs involve the use of probability methods, minimizing subjective judgment in the choice of units to survey.”

Sampling Process

According to Zickmund and Babin (2010), the sampling process can be defined as a “procedure conducted by a researcher, in to draw conclusion about an entire population based on the measurement of a portion of the population”. The sampling process is illustrated below:

Define the target population

Identify a sample frame

Determine the most appropriate sampling method

Determine the sample size

Implement the sample plan

Define the target population

According to Kotler and Kelly(2008), this stage consists of “the identification of the larger group that the sample is intended to represent”. This research is mainly concerned with people who uses electricity in Mauritius. In relation to the annual report 2009 of CEB, the population of electricity consumers was 402 000. The annual reports 2010 and 2011 were not available due to confidential reasons. The officials of the organisation pointed that there has been a significant rise in the figure during these years. The target population could not be quantified to extract out a representative sample as the population has not yet been exactly quantified.

Identify a sample frame

According to Lamb and McDaniel(2008), the sampling frame can be defined as “a list of population elements from which a sample will be drawn.” In this study, a proper sampling frame could not be identified as the target population was not properly listed.

Determine the most appropriate sampling method

According to Doherty(1994), non-probability sampling can be defined as ” the choice made by other methods, invoking some element of judgement.” For this study, the non- probability sampling has been found more suitable as it does not require any sampling frame unlike the probability sampling method whereby a sampling frame is required. More precisely, the type of non- probability sampling method that shall be used in this research is the quota sampling technique.

Quota sampling

According to Babbie(2001), quota sampling is “a type of non-probability sample in which the researcher selects people according to some fixed quota. That is, units are selected into a sample on the basis of pre-specified characteristics so that the total sample has the same distribution of characteristics assumed to exist in the population being studied.” This technique is used when there is no existing sampling frame for the targeted population.

Determine the sample size and sample plan

The sampling plan has been constructed by estimating the number of electricity users for the year 2012 in relation with the figure found in the annual report 2009. The sample plan for the number of consumers was calculated as per Kotler(2001) who said that “a sample plan less than 1% of a population can often provide good reliability given a credible sampling procedure.”

Number of Electricity consumers for the year 2009: 402 000

Estimated number of Electricity consumers for the year 2012: 602 000

As there was an increase in the number of consumers throughout the year 2009, 2010 and 2011, the officials of CEB gave me the authority to increase the figure by 200 electricity users.

Taking 1% of this figure to represent the target population = 1/100 * 602 000 = 6020 consumers

To have a more representative sample, a sampe population of 6020 customers should have been taken. However, due to time constraints and limited financial resources, a sample population of 100 consumers was seemed to be appropriate for this survey.

Data Collection

The data was collected over a period of 1 month whereby the customers were interviewed in different customer service offices. The data was collected in different regions namely Port-Louis, Grand-Port, Black-River, Plaines-Wilhems, Savanne, Flacq, Riviere du Rempart, Moka and Pamplemousses, so as to have a broader perception of the respondents on the quality of service offered CEB. The respondents were given the questionnaire to fill and some of them were interviewed.

Analysis of Data and Interpretation of Results

Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 16.0) will be used to compute all relevant descriptive statistics, perform hypothesis testing and publish test results whereas Microsoft Excel 2007 has been considered more appropriate for generating charts because of their more colourful appearance.

Limitation of Survey

Respondents were very reluctant to fill the questionnaire as there were too many statements.

Some respondents were unwilling to give accurate response.

Some respondents were unwilling to participate in the survey and it took much time to convince them.

Lack of co-operation from a few respondents.

According to Redman and Morry research is defined as a systematized effort to gain new knowledge. In other words, research is a mean to increase the knowledge about people and process in working organisation

According to Cooper and Emory (1995), research methodology can be defined as a “systematic inquiry aimed at providing information to solve problems.” The research methodology section varies significantly in the subject matter which consists of research procedures that shall be used to asses customer satisfaction by the services offered by CEB.

Problem definition

This is a crucial step in the success of a research study. The purpose of the study must be well defined and understood so as the researchers are able to derive the correct method to collect the appropriate and relevant data to remediate the problem.

Therefore, the problem definition for our study is as follows: “To assess customer satisfaction and service quality at Central Electricity Board and to find ways of how to improve the service quality based on consumers’ expectations”.

Research Objectives

The aim of this study is to assess service quality at CEB and in order to achieve this aim. The following research objectives have been derived:

To analyze customer perception of service quality using the SERVQUAL model.

To describe the characteristics of CEB consumers

To study the difference between male and female consumers with respect to perception of service quality.

To study the overall perception and expectation of service quality in CEB.

To make recommendation and suggestions based on consumers’ expectations on how improvements can be done.

Research Hypotheses

According to Cherry (2004), a hypothesis can be defined as “a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables. It is also a specific, testable prediction about what you expect to happen in your study. Moreover, “A hypothesis is a statement that specifies how two or more measurable variables are related” (Churchill, 1996).

Besides the research objectives which were mentioned above, this research study also consists of the following hypotheses that shall be tested throughout the survey based on the framework for improving service quality.

Hypothesis 1

H0: There is no difference between male and female customers with respect to perception of service quality

H1: There is a difference between male and female customers with respect to perception of service quality

Hypothesis 2

H0: There is no relationship between the age of customers and perception of service quality

H1: There is a relationship between the age of customers and perception of service quality

Hypothesis 3

H0: There is no relationship between customers regions

H1: There is a relationship between customers regions

Hypothesis 4

H0: There is no difference between the overall perception of service quality and expectation of service quality

H1: There is a difference between the overall perception of service quality and expectation of service quality

Data collection methods

Qualitative data

A qualitative exploratory case study is used to investigate the research questions. It is an approach which explores a phenomenon or a new area within its context using various data sources where the theories available are limited, measurement is unclear and the interventions being evaluated have no clear, single set of outcomes.

Quantitative data

According to Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, Y. S. (2000), “quantitative studies emphasize the measurement and analysis of causal relationships between variables. Proponents of such studies claim that their work is done from within a value-free framework”. In other words, Quantitative data are statistical analysis data which helps in answering a research question which involve measurement.

Therefore in order to determine the customer satisfaction levels in relationship to the service quality of CEB, the quantitative approach will be used as it is more adaptable to this study. Since the purpose of this research is to assess the service quality of CEB, the data collected can be generalised due to large number of respondents. Furthermore, up-to-date data on the perception of consumers on CEB service quality is needed and only quantitative method could allow the gathering of such data. Therefore, quantitative approach has been selected to collect primary data which is the living part of this research. However, it is important to note that this study is not only based on primary data but is also a mixture of secondary data.

Data collection method

It is important to determine what information is required and how to develop a plan of collecting such information. “Primary sources provide the ‘raw data’ that is use first to test the working hypothesis and then as evidence to support your claim”(Booth et al. 2008).

There are different methods to collect data. It all depends on what type of data is required. The most appropriate method that shall be used for the collection of data for this survey is the questionnaire survey method.

Design Data Collection Forms

For this study, a questionnaire was designed to collect information to know the perception an expectation of CEB consumers.

Structure of Customer Questionnaire

The questionnaire is divided into five sections:

Section A

This section contains the statements that shall be used to assess the perception of customers on service quality.

Section B

This section contains the statements that shall be used to assess the expectations of customers on service quality.

Section C

The question in part C will determine the services offered by the agents of CEB.

Section D

This section consists of a mixture of dichotomous and multiple response questions to assess the evaluation of the customer service agents at CEB.

Section E

This section consists of an open-ended question which will determine the recommendations in order to improve the service quality at CEB.

Section F

Finally, the last part of the questionnaire contains dichotomous and multiple choice questions in relation to personal details of respondents. This part will be used to test our four hypotheses.

In this study, a five points Likert scale will be used as a measuring tool. this measuring tool has been chosen as it better captures the perception of the respondents as it contains five possible options ranging from: 1- Strongly Disagree, 2- Disagree, 3- Neutral, 4- Agree, 5- Strongly Disagree. “The measurement of service quality using the five dimensions of SERVQUAL, has been proven to be successful using a seven Likert scale” (Cui, Lewis and park, 2003). However for this research, a five point Likert scale will be used since the respondents shall be intercepted at the customer service offices of CEB itself. This decision has been made to reduce the time of response and to make the respondents more comfortable.

Justification of questions

Section A and Section B

These sections contain 22 statements each of which attempt to measure the GAP 5 in the GAP model. These statements are divided into five dimensions which made up the SERVQUAL model thus enabling us to identify both the perception and expectations of our respondents on the service quality being delivered to them.

Section C

This section consists of only one question (Question 11). The purpose of this question is to evaluate the service quality delivery of the different types of customer service agents like technicians, meter readers, inspectors and customer service agents in the offices of CEB.

Section D

This section contains five questions which have been included in the questionnaire to assess the access of information and the quality of information.

Question 12: This question has been set to know how customers of CEB get information about any update in the organisation.

Question 13: The purpose of this question is to know whether the customer service agents are providing their customers with the exact information, for instance to know the extent to which service is being delivered in an appropriate way.

Question 14: This question will help us understand the level of comprehension of the consumers of CEB.

Question 15 and 16: This part has been included in the questionnaire to study the service delivery by telephone.

Section E

This section consists of one question (Question 17) and will be of high contribution to the assessment of service quality at CEB. The purpose of this question is to better understand the perception and expectation of electricity consumers.

Section F

This part contains three questions (Question 18, 19 and 20) which will help us to obtain useful information about the background of the customers.

Pilot Testing

After the questionnaire design, a pilot study was done to remove any unambiguous questions as well to assess how far the questionnaire is answering to the aim of the study. Sample questionnaires were distributed among 20 customers in the customer service office in Curepipe for the purpose of pilot testing. Based on the feedbacks, Question 11 was reformulated in a simpler way for the betterment of the respondents.

DETERMINING SAMPLE SIZE

Sampling

According to Freedman and Wachter (2003), “sampling is extrapolation from the part to the whole(from the sample to the population). There is an immediate corollary: the sample must be chosen to fairly represent the population.” They also stated that “Methods for choosing samples are called designs and good designs involve the use of probability methods, minimizing subjective judgment in the choice of units to survey.”

Sampling Process

According to Zickmund and Babin (2010), the sampling process can be defined as a “procedure conducted by a researcher, in to draw conclusion about an entire population based on the measurement of a portion of the population”. The sampling process is illustrated below:

Define the target population

Identify a sample frame

Determine the most appropriate sampling method

Determine the sample size

Implement the sample plan

Define the target population

According to Kotler and Kelly(2008), this stage consists of “the identification of the larger group that the sample is intended to represent”. This research is mainly concerned with people who uses electricity in Mauritius. In relation to the annual report 2009 of CEB, the population of electricity consumers was 402 000. The annual reports 2010 and 2011 were not available due to confidential reasons. The officials of the organisation pointed that there has been a significant rise in the figure during these years. The target population could not be quantified to extract out a representative sample as the population has not yet been exactly quantified.

Identify a sample frame

According to Lamb and McDaniel(2008), the sampling frame can be defined as “a list of population elements from which a sample will be drawn.” In this study, a proper sampling frame could not be identified as the target population was not properly listed.

Determine the most appropriate sampling method

According to Doherty(1994), non-probability sampling can be defined as ” the choice made by other methods, invoking some element of judgement.” For this study, the non- probability sampling has been found more suitable as it does not require any sampling frame unlike the probability sampling method whereby a sampling frame is required. More precisely, the type of non- probability sampling method that shall be used in this research is the quota sampling technique.

Quota sampling

According to Babbie(2001), quota sampling is “a type of non-probability sample in which the researcher selects people according to some fixed quota. That is, units are selected into a sample on the basis of pre-specified characteristics so that the total sample has the same distribution of characteristics assumed to exist in the population being studied.” This technique is used when there is no existing sampling frame for the targeted population.

Determine the sample size and sample plan

The sampling plan has been constructed by estimating the number of electricity users for the year 2012 in relation with the figure found in the annual report 2009. The sample plan for the number of consumers was calculated as per Kotler(2001) who said that “a sample plan less than 1% of a population can often provide good reliability given a credible sampling procedure.”

Number of Electricity consumers for the year 2009: 402 000

Estimated number of Electricity consumers for the year 2012: 602 000

As there was an increase in the number of consumers throughout the year 2009, 2010 and 2011, the officials of CEB gave me the authority to increase the figure by 200 electricity users.

Taking 1% of this figure to represent the target population = 1/100 * 602 000 = 6020 consumers

To have a more representative sample, a sampe population of 6020 customers should have been taken. However, due to time constraints and limited financial resources, a sample population of 100 consumers was seemed to be appropriate for this survey.

Data Collection

The data was collected over a period of 1 month whereby the customers were interviewed in different customer service offices. The data was collected in different regions namely Port-Louis, Grand-Port, Black-River, Plaines-Wilhems, Savanne, Flacq, Riviere du Rempart, Moka and Pamplemousses, so as to have a broader perception of the respondents on the quality of service offered CEB. The respondents were given the questionnaire to fill and some of them were interviewed.

Analysis of Data and Interpretation of Results

Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 16.0) will be used to compute all relevant descriptive statistics, perform hypothesis testing and publish test results whereas Microsoft Excel 2007 has been considered more appropriate for generating charts because of their more colourful appearance.

Limitation of Survey

Respondents were very reluctant to fill the questionnaire as there were too many statements.

Some respondents were unwilling to give accurate response.

Some respondents were unwilling to participate in the survey and it took much time to convince them.

Lack of co-operation from a few respondents.

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