1.1 Background to the Study
Customer care and customer satisfaction has long been recognized as playing a crucial role for success and survival in today’s competitive market. In an increasing competitive and dynamic business environment, every organization needs to identify, anticipate, satisfy and care for customers to maximize profit, meet the requirement of stakeholders and have competitive advantage, (Egbe, 2007). Customer satisfaction is one of the most important issues concerning business organization of all types, which is justified by the customer oriented philosophy and the principles of continuous improvement in modern eateries. Customer satisfaction is a collective outcome of perception, evaluation, and psychological reactions to the consumption expectation with a product or service. It is a customer’s overall evaluation of the performance of an offering. This overall satisfaction has strong positive effect on customer care intentions across a wide range of product and service categories, (Oyemehi & Abiodun, 2008).
The importance of customers care cannot be overemphasis, it determine the competitive advantage of the firm, market share, business expansion, growth and the profitability. It comprises the quality of service, mode of delivery, customer’s compliant management and customer’s satisfaction. The organizational moderation variables include the business mission, vision, marketing orientation and the antecedent of marketing orientation of the firm (Jones & Taylor, 2010). Customer satisfaction is a person’s feelings of pleasures or disappointments resulting from comparing a product perceived performance (or outcome) in relation to his/her expectation (Veloutsou, Gilbert, Mountinho, & Goode, 2005), (Kotler & Armstrong, 2010). Without the customer it is impossible for any business to sustain itself. Achieving the desired results is frequently a result of customer actions. Therefore, any business without a focus on customer satisfaction will remain irrelevant in the market place, observe low customer patronage, poor customer retention and loyalty. Owing to the rapid increase of eateries in our society, it is pertinent for firms to imbibe the concept of customer satisfaction in their operation to achieving customer loyalty, retention, patronage, recommendation and increase in sales volume.
As customer needs and expectations are changing all the time, this study intends to reveal whether customer satisfaction towards a firm’s offering can lead to customer retention, patronage and in turn increase its sales volume. An appeal towards this concept “customer satisfaction” attracted the researcher to embark on a research whether customers can be satisfied by eateries (Mac-Bite and Crunches 2007). Also, whether customer satisfaction can result to customer care, retention, patronage, recommendation, increase in sales volume and market share. Without the customer it is impossible for any business to sustain itself. Achieving the desired results is frequently a result of customer actions. Therefore, any business without a focus on customer satisfaction is at the mercy of the market. Also it has been observed that little or no research work has being conducted in Port Harcourt as it relate to the customer care and customer satisfaction in eateries. It is the backdrop that has led to this research work. This research work shall try to examine the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty towards firms.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The consumer’s tastes and needs are dynamic,implying that every brand should constantly seek waysto offer freshness in order to remain relevant in themarket place, (Mac-Bite and Crunches 2007).The ability to satisfy consumers remains one of the greatest task for any firm to achieve as customer needs and expectation are changing at all time. Customer satisfaction can be experienced in a variety of situations and connected to both goods and services. It is a highly personal assessment that is greatly affected by customer expectations. Eateries services are increasing in Port Harcourt, yet the level of failure in their service indicates that ineffective relationship with customers seems to be pronounced such a gap indicates that there is much to learn about how to develop close contact with customer using the appropriate relationship strategies.
The eateries industry in Nigeria is not very diversified in terms of the products and services they offer such as, Slow service of sales persons, high price of products, low quality taste of food and non-remittance of customers balance. This is so because eateries in Port Harcourt offer nearly identical services. This carries the danger of creating a situation where eateries fight for customers using all kinds of “unethical strategies”. Through critical observation it has been noticed that the fast food sector is becoming competitive as many eateries are being set up at all crannies of the society. How then is it possible to satisfy consumers and make them loyal customers towards a firm’s product and services,as such, it becomes apparent that one strategic focus that eateries can implement to remain competitive would be to retain as many customers as possible through satisfying their customer. But the question is, how do eateries retain their customers when they offer identical services that encourages customer deflecting from one eatery to another? The inability of eateries to provide innovative and unique services that will meet individual client needs as against providing similar services like other eateries impede against customer loyalty in no small ways and makes customer retention through satisfaction in eateries complex and difficult. Hence the need to assess customer care and retention strategies of eateries in Rivers state becomes imperative.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of the study is to examine the effect of customer care on customer satisfaction in eateries in Port Harcourt. Specific objectives are:
1. To determine the extent to which slow service of sales persons in selected eateries in Port Harcourt affect customers’ satisfaction.
2. To determine the extent to which high price of products influence customer satisfaction in eateries in Port Harcourt.
3. To determine the extent to which low quality taste of food affects customer satisfaction in eateries in Port Harcourt.
4. To determine the extent to which no remittance of customers balance affects customers satisfaction in eateries in Port Harcourt.
1.4 Research Questions
From the above specific objectives, the following research questions are formulated:
1. To what extent does slow service of sales persons in eateries in Port Harcourt affect customer satisfaction?
2. To what extent does high price of products influence customer care and satisfaction in selected eateries in Port Harcourt?
3. To what extent does low quality taste of food affect customer care and satisfaction in selected eateries in Port Harcourt?
4. To what extent does non-remittance of customer balance affect customer satisfaction in eateries in Port Harcourt?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
As contained in the statement of objectives, it is logical to identify some relationship between different variables that now form the bases of hypotheses of the study. In order to carry out this research, the following hypothesis would be postulated:
Ho: There is no significant relationship between slow services of sales persons and customer satisfaction in eateries in Port Harcourt.
Ha: There is a significant relationship between slow services of sales persona and customer satisfaction in eateries in Port Harcourt.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study will cover the empirical examination of customer care and retention strategies used by selected eateries in Rivers state as well as the reasons why customer stay or leave selected eateries.
1.7 Significance of the Study
The research will be beneficial to all service organization especially eateries sector as it emphasized the need and encourage the establishment of policy guidelines on the efficient and effective customer services and relationship programme. The study shall have a great impact on individuals, management, large corporations, universities, organization, customers/subscribers, government and the society at large. Subsequently, it will enhance and the society at large. Subsequently, it will enhance good suggestions for achieving quality customer care that will facilitate customers’ retention and loyalty.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Customer Care is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchasethe symbol construct created with the mind of people, consisting of all the information and expectations associated with a product, service or the company.
Customer satisfaction: is complicate to define because normally it is extenuated by expectation. Customers will be satisfied if the product or service above demands or expectation.” On the other hand, if the product or service below demands or expectation, customer will be dissatisfied (Schmitt 2003) Satisfaction is also the feedback that given by the customers about the products’ or services’ quality and assessment of the products or service itself.
Customer loyalty shows a customer’s positive attitude for the repeating buying behavior on certain product or service.
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