This chapter discusses the research methodology applied by the researcher in this study. The research methodology selected was designed to verify the results of the literature review and to identify and existing gaps.
3.1.0 Research Paradigm
There are two general research paradigms and these are labelled as follows
Positivistic Paradigm - this paradigm "seeks the facts or causes of social phenomena with little regard to the subjective state o the individual" (Collis and Hussey 2003:52)
Phenomenological Paradigm - this paradigm " is concerned with the understanding of human behaviour from the participants own frame of reference" (Collis and Hussey 2003:52)
3.1.1 Phenomenological Paradigm
The research for this paper is based in the phenomenological paradigm since the researcher was concerned with the understanding of human experience and behaviour in a specific context. Phenomenological paradigm is based on personal knowledge and subjectivity and emphasizes the importance of personal perspective and interpretation. As such, they are considered powerful in understanding subjective experience, gaining insights into people's actions and cutting through the clutter of taken- for- granted assumptions. Phenomenological methods are particularly effective at bringing to the forefront the experiences and perceptions of individuals from their own perspectives
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The research methods employed under this approach also seeks to understand and translate the meaning and not the frequency of the phenomena in the social world (Van Maanen,1983 in Collis and Hussey 2003), therefore it is not concerned with how many times an incident occurred but rather with what the occurrence means; what the human behaviour behind the incident means.
3.1.2 Validity and Reliability
Validity refers to the degree to which the findings of the research accurately reflect the true situation. According to Collis and Hussey (2003) the phenomenological research is very high in validity. The researcher attempted to maintain a high level of validity by surveying a large sample number, using straightforward questionnaires and by interviewing major stakeholders.
Reliability refers to the idea that if the research is to be repeated, similar results will be obtained. Phenomenological research is typically low in reliability simply because it is not necessarily important for the results to be "similar in the positivistic sense but whether similar observations can be made on different occasions" (Collis and Hussey 2003)
3.1.3 Phenomenological Methodologies
Inductive research establishes "limited generalisations about the distribution of, and pattern of associations amongst, observed or measured characteristics of individual or social phenomena" whilst deductive research aims at finding an explanation for "an association between concepts by proposing a theory, the relevance of which can be tested" ( Blaikie 2010:83&85). The researcher initially conducted inductive research by gathering empirical information concerning customer service and satisfaction practices at FC. Inductive research was also conducted via questionnaires and personal interviews of key managers. This research also employed deductive research by using established, academic principles and theories to measure the degree to which FC followed suggested procedures.
3.2.0 Research Design
"Research design is the science (and art) of planning procedures for conducting studies so as to get the most valid findings" it is used to "guide and focus your research " - Hussey and Hussey 2003 p113
3.2.1 Grounded Theory
The research methodology of grounded theory was applied to this research. According to Saunders (2010) "grounded theory as an analysis process that was developed to build an explanation or to generate a theory around the core or central theme that emerges from the data gathered'' and this is applicable since the purpose of this research was to highlight any inefficiencies in customer satisfaction practices at FC and suggest remedies based on academic standards. The results of this research is intended to be comprehensible and usable to those being studied and will allow modification and further investigation if the need arises. It produces theories through observation that are more reliable and illuminates under investigation.
3.2.2 Primary Data
Primary data refers to data which is collected at the source. It is beneficial to the research since addresses the specific research issues however it is usually more costly and time consuming than collecting secondary data. In this research the researcher acquired primary data through in depth interviews with managers, questionnaires completed by customers and observations.
3.2.3 Secondary Data
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Secondary data refers to data that already exists. Secondary data is usually obtained more quickly and at a lower cost that primary data however secondary data may not always be useable and up to date. Secondary data was collected from articles from textbooks, journals, magazines, FC website and FC company reports on its marketing strategy, its current market share, mission and major competitors.
The researcher used the method of ethnography, a form of research evolved from anthropology methodology which is the study of people, particularly their customs and societies. Werner and Schoepfle (1987:42) states that "ethnography is any full or partial description of a group." The researchers engaged in field work to study a group of people and events in their natural setting.
Triangulation was also adopted in this research paper. According to Saunders (2007) "Triangulation is the application and combination of several research methodologies in the study of the same phenomenon that would lead to greater validity and reliability. By combining multiple observers, theories, methods, and empirical materials, sociologists can hope to overcome the weakness or intrinsic biases and the problems that come from single method, single-observer, and single-theory studies".
3.3.0 Research Methods
The researchers received formal authorisation from FC's management to collect data and conduct extensive interviews, questionnaires and observations during the week of April 4th to 8th, 2011.
The researcher utilized three data collection methods of interviews, questionnaires and observations. These methods gave quantitative and qualitative data.
Quantitative data is used to describe information that can be counted or expressed numerically. Some findings of this research gave quantitative data and were represented through graphs, pie charts and tables for easy identification of trends and patterns of preference.
Saunders et al. (2009) states that "qualitative data refers to all non-numeric data or data that have not been quantified and can be a product of all research strategies.'' Since this research is interested in the meaning of human behaviour in specific customer satisfaction, qualitative data will be of paramount importance. This data allows the richness of the detail of phenomena to be captured. Table 3.0 highlights the distinctions between quantitative and qualitative data.
Table 3.0 Distinctions between quantitative and qualitative data
Based on meanings derived from numbers
Based on meanings expressed through words
Collection results in numerical and standardised data
Collection results in non-standardised data requiring classification into categories.
Analysis conducted through the use of diagrams and statistics
Analysis conducted through the use of conceptualisation
Source: Saunders et al (2009)
According to Saunders (2003:315) "Questionnaires facilitate the collection of data by asking all, or a sample of people to answer the same questions." A total of one hundred (100) questionnaires were administered to the sample size using closed ended questions. They were structured as dichotomous questions in a multiple category to ensure that the responses were quick and easy to answer. The aim of using the questionnaire was to select data from a wide cross section or respondents, which would have been used in conjunction with other primary and secondary data to address the research objectives. A key advantage of using questionnaires in this research is that it was a cost effective and quick way of collecting primary data from a large numbers of customers, given the limited time available for the study. All the respondents were also presented with the questions in the same manner therefore this ensured objectivity since there was no opportunity for the researchers to manipulate any of the respondents to answer the questions at their convenience. This was especially important since, amid the demands of their activities, respondents needed to be focused on their opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards the manner in which customer satisfaction is delivered at FC. The use of closed questioned questionnaires has it downfalls which include limitations on responses, the missed opportunity to qualify responses which can be used in a face to face and misinterpretation of any comments added to the free text section.
Sample Size -The actual sample size for this objective was calculated using the following formula:
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na = n x 100
(na - actual sample size, n - minimum sample size, r% - estimated response rate as a percent)
The sample size included one hundred (100) customers from FC's North, Central and South branches.
Focus groups - Before the questionnaire was distributed to the sample frame, it was pre-tested by a group of five people who are similar to those in the sample that were not in the sample frame. The group then discussed their views on the questionnaire. The researcher recorded what was said. This was done to alleviate errors within the questionnaire and to eliminate any bias.
An interview is a data collection encounter in which one person (an interviewer) ask questions of another respondent" (Babbie 2001). The aim of using interviews was to solicit in dept data from respondents and to eliminate misunderstandings of both the questions and responses, which could have lead to the collection of erroneous data.
Formal interviews - In assisting this research objective an interview was concluded with the FC Marketing Manager. A semi structured interview was conducted via face to face interaction at the Marketing Department of FC Bank Limited, Corner Park & Henry Streets, and Port-Of-Spain. This allowed for the data to be more reliable and understood. Semi- structured interviews are helpful in gathering reliable and valid information relevant to a particular research. Saunders et al (2003) notes that semi-structured interviews are useful for both an explanatory and exploratory study.
Informal interviews - Informal interviews were conducted with a selected sample size of walk in customers at different branches of the FC. This method was chosen since it eliminated the rigidity of the interviews allowing customers to feel comfortable to provide objective free answers and to raise concerns about the customer service provided and offer suggestions for improvements. These interviews were based on open ended questions on a framework of selected topics.
The main disadvantage faced when conducting face-to-face interviews is that it can be very time consuming and requires good interviewing skills.
3.3.3 Direct Observations
Two types of observations were utilized in this research and these are participant observation and direct observation.
Participant observation this is where the researcher becomes a working member of the group or situation to be observed. The aim of this type of this type of observation is to understand the situation from the inside: from the viewpoints of the people in the situation. The researcher takes a covert approach to participant observation which allows for a personal experience that results in a richer and more detailed account of factors that affect customer's choice. This approach enabled the research to gain a true evaluation of the level of satisfaction faced by customers at the branch. However some issues face by the researcher it that participant observation was time-consuming, documentation relied on memory, personal discipline, and diligence of researcher and it required a conscious effort at objectivity since this method is inherently subjective.
Direct observation involves the observation and recording of behaviour by the researcher during an event. To confirm the data gathered from the interviews and questionnaires, direct observation was conducted to examine the frontline staff, the traffic flow of the customers, the manner and timeframe involved in the bank's service and the level of satisfaction offered. The researcher did not reveal the purpose of his activity to those being observed so as to avoid interference with the employees' job performance and customer's reactions. Issues faced in this type of observation are similar to that of participant observation.
3.4 Limitations of Method
Due to the word count and time constraints, literature which may have been relevant was omitted. Secondly, the sample size was limited due to the time and cost factors. This restricted the size of the sample frame thus taking away some commercial credibility from the research. The face-to-face, semi-structured interview and observation was also time consuming and expensive.
3.5 Ethical Considerations
Unfortunately there is no written code of practice for a researcher to follow in conducting their research. However in this case, the researcher maintained a high level of ethical standard by informing all participants on the sole purpose of this research. The research also noted that the information shared was off high confidence.