A STUDY OF CUSTOMERS’ EVALUATION OF THE QUALITY OF
SERVICE PROVIDED BY STC CUSTOMER CARE OFFICES
Project Proposal for Submission to:
SAUDI TELECOM COMPANY
To be executed by:
Students of the Marketing Research course
College of Industrial Management
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran
Under supervision of the Course Professor:
Dr. Alhassan G. Abdul-Muhmin
Associate Professor of Marketing
Department of Management and Marketing
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Tel.: (03) 860 4265 (Office)
(03) 860 6513 (Home)
This document presents a follow-up revised proposal to one initially submitted to Saudi Telecom Company (STC) seeking sponsorship for the class project in the MBA Marketing Research course at the College of Industrial Management, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). In the initial proposal, we (students and professor of the course) suggested collaboration with STC in looking at how customers evaluate the quality of various aspects of the company’s landline telephone services in Saudi Arabia. This proposal was favorably received by the company, which also suggested a modification in the project objectives to focus specifically on the company’s customer care offices. In an email
Shonaifi , STC’s Marketing correspondence to that effect (see Appendix), Mr. Khalid S. Al
Research Executive stated clearly that:
“For MBA project, we need to evaluate our Customer Care Offices quality and
services, and what is the best methodology –ways to provide excellent services”.
In follow-up communications with Mr. Al-Shonaifi, the class was able to clarify a number of issues arising from this re-focus in the project’s management objective. Specifically, we
provided Mr. Al-Shonaifi with the following interpretations that we had made of the request, which he subsequently agreed to:
(1) That the request implicitly implies that we are to examine how CUSTOMERS evaluate
the quality of service provided by the Customer Care offices.
(2) That the term “CUSTOMERS” will be limited only to individual subscribers, and
organizational subscribers will not be included in the investigation.
(3) That our investigation will necessarily include both landline and mobile services since the
Customer Care offices typically handle issues related to the full range of STC services.
On the basis of the clarification, we were able to define our broad research objective as:
To investigate how individual subscribers to Saudi Telecom Company’s (STC)
services evaluate the quality of service provided by the company’s Customer
2. APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM
In order to develop a suitable approach to the problem, following the clarifications described above, each student was given an assignment to conduct initial exploratory research on the research problem. The objective was to collect information relating to the following issues that were deemed critical in developing the research approach:
1. The specific STC services that will be included in the study (i.e. services that will
form the basis for customer evaluations in the study)
2. Specific aspects of the customer care offices that should be included in the evaluative
3. Customers’ perceptions and satisfaction with the level of service provided by the
customer care offices
The exploratory research was conducted using a combination of secondary data analysis, focus group interviews, depth interviews, and sentence completion tests. Specific secondary data sources used included brochures, flyers, and pages from STC’s website.
These were used to help us identify the full range of services provided by the customer care offices. The secondary data analysis also included a review of the academic literature on (a) customer evaluations of (telecom) service quality, and (b) the determinants and consequences of such evaluations. The focus group and depth interviews were used to identify preliminary customer perceptions of the customer care offices as well as STC-specific dimensions of the quality evaluation that would be examined in the study. Each student submitted a short report containing the results of his exploratory research. These preliminary results were very interesting and insightful, and led to identification of interesting dimensions to be included in the study. The individual student results were consolidated by the course professor into a single list of dimensions and fed back to the class for discussion.
The outcome of this process has led us to ground our research approach in the SERVQUAL model of service quality evaluation (Parasurraman, Berry, and Zeithaml, 1988), which will form the theoretical basis for our study. The results also led to identification of customer satisfaction, attitudes, and loyalty as additional constructs worthy of investigation in
the study. These are constructs that naturally go together with service quality perceptions either as antecedents or consequences. We are essentially working on the basis of the theoretically grounded hypotheses that:
(1) Service quality evaluations are positive determinants of customer satisfaction, and
attitudes, and that
(2) Satisfaction and attitudes, in turn are positive determinants of customer loyalty.
In the next section, we present the specific research objectives that we have formulated for the study, based on this preliminary research investigation.
3. DETAILED (SPECIFIC) RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
As indicated earlier, our broad research objective is “to investigate how individual
subscribers to Saudi Telecom Company’s (STC) services evaluate the quality of service provided by the company’s Customer Care Offices”. On the basis of our exploratory research
results, the class has developed specific research objectives that the study will be designed to achieve. Specifically, the study will seek to examine the following issues.
(1) How individual subscribers evaluate the quality of service provided by the STC’s
customer care offices.
(2) The level of subscriber satisfaction with the service provided by the customer care
(3) Subscribers’ attitudes toward STC as a whole and its customer care offices.
(4) The level of subscriber loyalty toward STC (i.e. their future behavioral intention
toward the company).
(5) Possible demographic differences in subscribers’ quality evaluations, satisfaction,
attitudes, and loyalty, and
(6) The relationships among subscribers’ quality evaluations, satisfaction, attitudes,
4. RESEARCH DESIGN
To achieve the above objectives, we plan to conduct a survey in the Eastern Province using a structured questionnaire. We have chosen the survey option because it is more suitable for the research objectives, and is the type of research that can conveniently be conducted by the students within the time period that is available for the remainder of the course.
We are currently evaluating two options for administering the questionnaire:
(1) As a self-administered questionnaire distributed by the drop-off/pick-up
method - Under this method, each student will personally distribute pencil-and-
paper questionnaires (or electronic versions if they have the capabilities to do so)
to a sample of respondents and arrange to pick-up the completed questionnaires.
(2) Through telephone interviews – Under this method, telephone interviews will
be conducted using the structured questionnaire. This option would be feasible if
STC could provide the students with telephone facilities and a random sample of
telephone numbers selected from its database. The idea is for the student to set
aside one Thursday during which they will all meet at a specific STC-appointed
location to conduct the interviews.
A preliminary version of the questionnaire will be sent to STC for input when completed.
5. DATA COLLECTION
The students will be responsible for the data collection. Each student will collect information from a sample of respondents large enough to enable him write a separate individual report on his findings in order to fulfill the course requirements.
At the end of the course, the course professor will pool together the responses obtained by all students in the course, analyze the pooled data, and prepare a separate report of the findings for STC, if this will be interest to STC, and based on a separate agreement with the course professor.
6. DATA ANALYSIS
Each student will code and enter his data into a computer for electronic processing using the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) software. Specific analysis techniques to be employed will be dictated by requirements of the specific research objectives formulated for the study. The usual approach is for us to take the objectives one-by-one and determine the appropriate statistical analysis for each objective.
(1) For objective #s 1 - 4, we will use appropriate descriptive statistics (frequencies,
means, and standard deviations) to examine customers’ evaluations of the quality
of service provided by the customer care offices, their satisfaction with the
offices, and their attitudes and loyalty toward STC and the customer care offices.
(2) For objective # 5 we will use chi-square analysis and analysis of variance
(ANOVA) to examine any possible demographic differences in evaluations,
satisfaction, attitudes, and loyalty.
(3) For objective # 6, we will use regression analysis to examine the direction and
strength of relationships among the constructs. This part of the analysis is
expected to have particularly interesting managerial implications because it is
likely to lead to identification of the specific dimensions of service quality
provided by the customer care offices that have the greatest impact on customers’
satisfaction, attitudes, and loyalty.
(4) Prior to conducting all analyses, we will use standard psychometric techniques
(e.g. reliability and validity measures) to assess how well respective constructs
(i.e. quality perceptions, satisfaction, attitudes, and loyalty) have been measured.
7. PRESENTATION OF RESULTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Findings from the study, conclusions drawn and related recommendations will be communicated to STC through written student reports. However, as indicated above, if there is agreement for the professor to compile a consolidated report, this will be done as a separate task, and an oral presentation to STC could also be arranged. This will provide the opportunity for management to seek clarification of issues contained in the written report.
8. EXECUTION TIME SCHEDULE
Table 1 shows the project execution schedule submitted as part of the initial proposal. Due to the change in project focus and associated exploratory research, the timing of activities will be modified slightly. The questionnaire design will now be completed during the first week of April, and other activities will be speeded up to keep the completion time as scheduled.
EXECUTION TIMETABLE FOR PROPOSED STUDY
February March April May June
2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 2 3 Week #:
1. Focus groups
2. Depth interviews
1. Questionnaire design
2. Data collection (by students)
3. Coding and data entry (by
4. Data analysis (by students)
5. Student report writing
6. Pooled data analysis and
written company report