An exploratory investigation into the perceptions of consumers based on the quality of customer service received with specific reference to Ola Milky Lane - Midlands Liberty Mall.
Due to the growth of our economy and our rising standards of living, customers of today have a larger variety of products to choose from than in the past. This causes an increase in competition which has raised customer expectations on the quality of goods and services they receive (Palmer, 2001 p26). Along with this, the modern customer has become sophisticated, educated, confident and well informed. Hence, they have raised their expectations of the service they intend on receiving. This has placed enormous pressure on service organization's to improve the way they do business with these customers. This "customer transformation" has placed an increasing emphasis on customer service as a means of gaining a competitive advantage. As a consequence of competition becoming global and more intense, many organizations have come to the realization that they cannot compete on price alone. Hence, the level of customer service has a direct impact on an organization's market share, as it determines not only whether consumers will become customers but also whether existing customers will become loyal ones. If service quality is to become the cornerstone of an organisation's marketing strategy, marketers should have the means to measure it. Although research in this field exists, the researcher proposed the need for further research specifically in the area of customer perceptions toward the quality of service they receive. The issues addressed in this study will be of importance to both service managers and future researchers as a customer's evaluation of service quality and, the resulting level of satisfaction is thought to determine the likelihood of a repurchase and ultimately the success of the business. This dissertation is based on the perceptions of customers of Ola Milky Lane and the level of quality customer service they receive. Looking at the business from the customer's viewpoint will help the researcher investigate how current customers feel about the organization as well as their attitude toward the business. The expectations of these customers together with their levels of satisfaction, which shape their perceptions of the customer service, serve as the foundation on which service quality will be evaluated. Moreover, the research study hopes to assist the participating organisation establish whether gaps in service delivery exist, the reasons for their presence and identify possible solutions which can be implemented to close or prevent those gaps from further widening. This will benefit the organization as it can be used as a tool to understand customer perceptions, which can equip them to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of their relationship programmes. With this motivation in mind, the research study takes a strategic look at the importance of customer service as perceived by customers by means of determining whether the organisation is or is not meeting their expectations.