Foundation of the Study
Background of the Problem
In modern and dynamic business environments, effective communication with customers is critical to achieve a higher level of customer satisfaction (Alidadi & Nazari, 2013). Customer satisfaction has an important role in the overall profitability and performance of businesses, as well as in their ability to compete successfully within their industry (Irfan, Shamsudin, & Hadi, 2016). One of the major challenges is to contribute to positive changes in customer satisfaction because of the necessity to refer to a range of extrinsic and intrinsic factors, which can influence customers’ perceptions of provided products and services (Minh & Huu, 2016). Approximately one-third of all businesses tend to fail to address customer service satisfaction (Lemon & Verhoef, 2016). Therefore, business leaders often choose to concentrate on improving customer service strategies in order to affect customer satisfaction.
Profitability of businesses in the United States significantly depends on customer satisfaction as dissatisfied customers often communicate their negative experience, influencing organizations’ profits (Irfan et al., 2016). Studies indicated that even the 1% change in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) could result in more than $200 million difference in organizations’ profits (Irfan et al., 2016). The general business problem is that the customer service can lead to decreasing sales and the loss of businesses’ profits. The specific business problem is that some leaders lack effective customer service strategies.
The purpose of this qualitative case study is to explore what effective customer service strategies leaders use. The targeted population of the study consists of executives and customer service managers of organizations located in Miami, Florida, who successfully applied customer service strategies. This selected population is appropriate for the study because the sample size allows the researcher examine how customer service strategies are used by local executives, what impact they have on Miami-based organizations, and whether they are influenced by the specifics of this area. The implication for the positive social change is that improved customer satisfaction can influence the quality of services provided by Florida organizations, thus increasing their quality of life, satisfaction levels, and improving community environment. Moreover, effective customer service strategies can improve employees’ working conditions and infrastructure at the organization (access for customers/employees with disabilities, services for people with limited mobility, rooms for breastfeeding, etc.).
Nature of the Study
The qualitative methodology is selected for this study. The qualitative method is a method of inquiry that focuses on human behavior, examination and analysis of personal experiences, and perspectives of individuals. Qualitative research aims to gather, structure, and analyze non-numerical data to support or refute proposed hypotheses (Creswell, 2013). Since the study will focus on a relatively homogenous sample size and its experiences and opinions, the qualitative method is more suitable for it. The quantitative methodology is focused on collecting and analyzing numerical and statistical data to indicate relationships between phenomena (Maxwell, 2012). This study will not include finding numerical representations of relationships, therefore, the quantitative methodology is not appropriate for this study. The mixed methods research is based on combining using quantitative and qualitative methods to gain a complete understanding of the studied issue (Creswell, 2013). This study does not include the evaluation of quantitative data, therefore, the mixed methods research is not the best choice for the study.
Participant observation, interviewing, and survey are the main tools of qualitative research and will be used in this study to gather qualitative data. In-depth interviews can provide insights into consumers’ experience and facilitate the analysis of effective customer service strategies by providing detailed data based on consumers’ perception of service or products quality.
Surveys will be used to collect data about organizational services for further comparisons of perceived service quality and its antecedents among customers, as well as its relation to customer satisfaction levels.
A single case study is selected for this research. The case study approach is based on a detailed analysis of a specific situation, organization, or phenomenon from different perspectives and with reference to various sources of evidence (Rohlfing, 2012). The case study design is most appropriate for this research because it allows the detailed analysis of the situation of applying strategies to improve customer satisfaction in the concrete organization. Another advantage of case studies is the use of participant observation and direct questioning; these research methods deliver more inquiries into participants’ experience from a variety of sources that provide multiple perspectives on the same issue. Case studies also provide insights usable for further research. Phenomenology is not the best choice for this study because Phenomenology is focused on exploring participants’ lived experiences without investigating a case or situation in detail (Tesch, 2013). It is not suitable for the present study because all cases used in it will be analyzed with attention to detail to understand how effective customer satisfaction strategies are created (what tools or approaches are used for it).
What effective customer service strategies can be used to ensure and maintain high customer satisfaction?
The conceptual framework that will be used in this study is a Model of Perceived Service Quality and Satisfaction developed by Richard Spreng and Robert Mackoy in 1996 (Grigoroudis & Siskos, 2013). This model defines perceived service quality as an outcome of comparisons between ideals and performance perceptions with regard to quality dimensions, whereas satisfaction is based on customers’ predictive expectations toward quality and non-quality dimensions. The key concepts or propositions of this model include: the perception of the quality of services depends on customers’ expectations, the perception of the quality of services is in a positive relationship with customer satisfaction, and dissatisfied expectations relate to changes in the quality of services (Grigoroudis & Siskos, 2013). The model is based on the idea that consumers compare the performance of a product or service with a standard of their own. Consumers’ satisfaction depends on their belief about what is going to happen, and if products’ and services’ performance is better than anticipated, consumers’ satisfaction is more likely to increase (Grigoroudis & Siskos, 2013). The difference between customers’ expectations and perceptions is that the former comprises customers’ ideas about what services or products should be offered, while the latter reflects services or products provided in reality. As applied to this research, the model predicts that changes in customer services can be associated with changes in customer satisfaction.
Perceived service quality is the comparison between consumers’ predictive expectations about services and products and his/her opinion about what services/products the organization should provide (Grigoroudis & Siskos, 2013).
Satisfaction is a disconfirmation of consumers’ expectations toward products/services with regard to their characteristics (quality and non-quality) Grigoroudis & Siskos, 2013).
Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations
Assumptions are facts that are accepted to be true, but they lack verification (Gray, 2013). The first assumption is that participants of the study will provide honest answers to the questions proposed to them. Another assumption is that participants have enough experience to provide the information related to the research question. One more assumption is that the proposed research design will contribute to sharing participants’ views regarding the applied practices, customer satisfaction, and profitability.
Limitations of the study are its weak points that the researcher did not manage to address because of some reasons (Creswell, 2013; Gray, 2013). The limitations of the study are the following:
- Qualitative method can produce bias due to researcher’s direct involvement in customer observation. Customer experiences and opinions’ can be biased through social desirability, i.e. customers’ wish to report good behavior or opinions only.
- Researcher’s presence during observations and interviews can challenge customers’ willingness to provide more sincere/experience-based answers.
- Homogenous sample size (based on residents of Miami) might reflect only the specifics of the region and cannot be generalized or applied to other states/cities/countries.
Delimitations are related to the scope of the research (Creswell, 2013). The first delimitation is that only managers will participate. Another delimitation is that only participants from one firm located in Miami, Florida will take part in the research, and no participants from other locations will be included.
Another delimitation is the lack of statistical research. Effective customer service strategies are qualitative data that is hard to quantify and use for statistical examination. Statistical analysis will not be used in this research.
A state or countrywide research is beyond the study’s current aims because the research is to be focused on local sample size only. The inclusion of organizations from other states would complicate data collection and analysis and require a wider time scope for the research.
Significance of the Study
Contribution to Business Practice
Customer service strategies can contribute to customer satisfaction to increase organization’s profits (Minh & Huu, 2016). The exploration of interactions and connections between the customer-centered services and customer satisfaction will allow the deeper comprehension of practices. As a result, the study may demonstrate what customer-centered service strategies can be associated with positive changes in customer satisfaction and profitability of organizations. Positive changes in customer services will contribute to improving consumers’ experiences and developing organizations.
Implications for Social Change
Customer satisfaction research has the potential to improve the industry by examining, analyzing, and explaining the influence of service and product issues; those organizations that cannot adhere to effective customer service strategies will eventually leave the industry, allowing more effective executives to take place. Increased customer satisfaction can improvise customer-organization communication and increased quality of services at organizations can significantly improve community infrastructure and well-being of its citizens.
Attention to customer satisfaction has a direct influence on community’s health. If the organization collects customers’ feedback on safety management and issues, it can potentially address safety problems in time before any customers are affected by it.
Complaints about customer comfort and physical barriers can make organizations consider the accessibility of their environment to customers with disabilities. Thus, the physical environment in the organization will become more inclusive for people with disabilities or limited mobility, improving their quality of life and allowing them to take active part in the life of others (neighbors, friends, colleagues).
If an organization expects that its employees will provide quality services, it needs to treat them respectively, provide quality training, and ability to empower. The establishment of customer-centered culture is impossible if the organization is incapable of addressing employees’ needs. Employees who feel valued, respected, and acknowledged by their company will provide more quality services to customers, increasing their satisfaction rates. Thus, employees’ working conditions can improve too.
The study is significant to improve relationships between organizations and potential customers in the community with the focus on shifting businesses’ effort to customer satisfaction.
A Review of the Professional and Academic Literature
The ACSI framework is often used as a research basis. Most studies on customer satisfaction and the ACSI are related to commercial organizations (Deng, Yeh, & Sung, 2013; Grigoroudis & Siskos, 2013). Studies on the correlation between customer satisfaction and the market share are also numerous (Rego, Morgan, & Fornell, 2013). Thus, many studies regard customers as a priority for businesses, but they do not emphasize the ACSI, and the focus is on the customer satisfaction models (Wetzel, Hammerschmidt, & Zablah, 2014). There is a gap in the present-day literature on the problem: it does not appropriately reflect how commercial organizations may improve their services and address customer satisfaction with reference to not only the ACSI but also the perceived service quality and satisfaction model.
The customer satisfaction assessment in commercial organizations is not thoroughly studied. To investigate this issue, the ACSI and the perceived service quality and satisfaction model can be used. The next sections introduce the project and address the application to professional activities and possibilities of change.
The section represents the project details. The purpose statement, the role of the researcher, population, and method and design are examined taking into consideration ethical issues. Data analysis, validity, and reliability are also included.
The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine different strategies adopted to increase customer satisfaction in terms of obtaining the necessary information. The research based on a single case study will be conducted. The targeted population includes those who use Family Court services in Miami. The research findings will be useful for similar community-based organizations and many governmental agencies because they will have the opportunity to implement more advantageous strategies. Consequently, one may expect positive social changes in the society’s attitude towards governmental agencies and their work.
Role of the Researcher
The role of the researcher is to investigate the matter avoiding bias. The cultural background of the researcher and the case study actors is the same. Consequently, the bias connected with the tendency to appreciate the achievements of a member of the same culture might be present.
People are not involved directly. The case study under discussion addresses the residents of Miami who use court services and whose needs are met by the usage of the new platform (Clerk of Courts’ Online Services, n.d.). However, the research will be carried out keeping in mind the Miami residents and the possibility to make use of the innovations in this setting. In both cases, the demographic data, for instance, ethnicity and income levels are diverse.
Research Method and Design
This qualitative study aims at recognizing particular details associated with customer satisfaction: in accordance with the purpose to look for useful novelties, this type of study is chosen (Hussein, 2015). There are several advantages relevant to the present research. First and foremost, to understand the unique experience, this methodology seems preferable (Maxwell, 2012). Further, the fact that the nature of the data and its essence are addressed is beneficial (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015). Finally, it is vital to see beyond the popular solutions. Because some approaches are less known, it is necessary to explore the consequences and consider whether it is possible to facilitate concrete amendments.
Case studies are a suitable option because particular perceptions and hands-on examples are significant (Creswell, 2013; Gray, 2013). This design is powerful: it provides the understanding of real people’s experience (Tesch, 2013). Besides, case studies provide the experience of the past that can be accessed from the outside in the course of time (Maxwell, 2012; Creswell, 2013). It is possible to see the outcomes and identify some issues that proved to be less advantageous (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015). In addition, it saves time in comparison with other types of design, such as phenomenological interviews. Overall, using case studies, one has the opportunity to examine a wide range of ideas and approaches in a relatively short span of time.
The sampling includes one case study pertaining to the platform improving the information availability (Clerk of Courts’ Online Services, n.d.).
Because the present research is based on a single case study, the informed consent is not obligatory.
Data Collection Instruments
The documentation review is the data collection instrument. The member checking of the documents will be present.
Data Collection Technique
In this research, the available company documents are scrutinized: the information about the Family Court in Miami is to be gathered (for instance, performance indicators, databases, and so on).
Data Organization Technique
Electronic and hard copies of the data are used. Only the researcher should have access to them (document passwords are used, and the drawers are locked). The data are to be destroyed in five years.
One of the four types of triangulation, data triangulation including time, space, and people, is used (Hussein, 2015). In relation to the first component, it is considered how much time is necessary to develop the new approach based on the customer-centered activities. The time spent on the IT systems construction is also taken into account. Later on, the space analyzed in the case study is limited by the single city. However, it is advantageous since the targeted population refers to the similar territory, Miami (Gray, 2013). People are the main focus in the data analysis. The assessment of the new approach, the revealed strengths and weaknesses, and recommendations given by them are analyzed using Excel.
Reliability and Validity
To provide reliable data, member checking of data analysis and triangulation are suggested as the main measures.
The validity will be proven by the reliability of the research and the opportunity for other researchers to check the results via the documents.
Transition and Summary
The research is to examine customer satisfaction through the qualitative perspective. The researcher chooses a single case study and examines the situation avoiding bias and providing valid and reliable data.
Application to Professional Practice and Implications for Change
The purpose of the study was to scrutinize various strategies implemented to raise the level of customer satisfaction. The most advantageous strategies, quick response and personal approach in the form of the online platform, may be implemented.
Presentation of the Findings
The research question pertained to the most effective strategies for increasing customer satisfaction in non-profit companies in terms. Quick response and individual approach are considered beneficial for businesses. The findings confirm their effectiveness in the non-commercial environment.
Applications to Professional Practice
Non-commercial organizations also seek for the services quality improvement and need certain strategies. Not all strategies are effective for them (Liston-Heyes & Liu, 2013). The findings are applicable: they help adapt certain approaches to the specific setting. The time will not be wasted on other strategies. Online services are vital and common nowadays, and it is desirable to introduce them in the court practice.
Implications for Social Change
Non-profit organizations and customers will save their time and cooperate effectively since the procedures will be simpler and more intelligible for people. Meeting individual needs will affect the behavior of both parties: they will be more confident. As a result, customers will obtain the necessary information quickly, and they will not have to wait for the high-quality services.
Recommendations for Action
Many non-profit organizations, governmental and international, may use the findings. The research results may be published in academic journals, and conference reports will also be necessary.
Recommendations for Further Research
The future quantitative research may concentrate on the larger population within courts or other non-commercial organizations.
The personal bias was the expectation that customers would be dissatisfied with some online services. The practice was connected with positive and negative assessment in equal proportion.
To conclude, some of the business strategies concerning customer satisfaction, namely quick response and personal approach through the online platforms, are effective for non-profit organizations.
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