Identifying critical success factors for customer satisfaction in the interior and exterior plantscaping industries

Staples, Charles John Gilfillan (2001-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A business cannot exist without a customer. The most important aspect of any business is understanding its customers' needs. For a business to succeed in highly competitive markets, it must supply products an~ services which satisfy its customers needs and wants. Supplier firms must continually examine, reinforce and personalise customer relationships. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) focuses on providing solutions which brings together information and people across the client and service provider spectrum using computer technologies, especially the Internet. The growing demand for electronic interactions between customers and suppliers has led to the rapid development of CRM. Although e-Commerce is expected to become the norm in business activities, people-to-people interactions will, however, be most important in providing exceptional customer service and satisfaction. In future, however, business will be defined more by their relationships with their clients than by their products. Good customer relationships and customer satisfaction are directly related to increased profits. Satisfaction is generally conceptualised as an attitude-like judgement following a purchase act. Conformation or disconformation of pre-consumption product standards is the essential determinant of satisfaction. A number of models have been developed to enhance the understanding of satisfaction and to predict if a product or service will meet or exceed customer expectations. As a result of the many different attributes that contribute to customer satisfaction, models to predict customer satisfaction were often too simplistic to provide a comprehensive overview of all determinants that exert an influence <Incustomer satisfaction. It is, however, recognised that the customer is the key factor in delivering sustained and profitable growth. The rapid development of Information Technology (IT) has therefore been a major factor driving the rapid progress of CRM, which focuses on understanding the drivers of current and future customer profitability, and using this understanding to influence the allocation of resources across all areas that affect customer relationships. In future, CRM will have a profound impact on how business is conducted by enabling suppliers to reach their customers with products and services faster and more efficiently. However, the conventional principals including, product, pnce, distribution and promotion used for developing a marketing strategy still apply and are all part of the CRM process. The aim of the study project was to identify critical success factors (CSF's) for determining customer satisfaction in the interior and exterior plantscaping industries. Thereafter, The Office Plant (TOP) and Real Landscapes (RL) were evaluated in terms of meeting client expectations for interior and exterior plantscaping products and services respectively. Salient aspects of the research findings showed that people who worked in office environments thought that plants were essential factors III improving the quality of the workplace; customers outsoureed plantscaping services to reduce the "worry factor" associated with maintaining plants and gardens; that customers receive value for money from their respective plantscaping contractors; and that the most important criteria for selecting a plantscaper contractor included "price and value for money for the service" and "good quality service". Of 22 service-related attributes that were rated by customers, 20 were found to be statistically equally important and were classified as CSF's. In terms of ranking, the most important attribute was "honest and professional in their business dealings". Thereafter, "timely response to requests", "cleanliness of plants", "provide delivery on time" and "using well informed and trained staff', were included in the highest five scoring attributes. Overall results showed that none of the seven interior plantscapers identified in the survey equaled or exceeded customer expectations in terms of service. For exterior plantscaping services, Plants @ Work were the only contractors, which met customer expectations, of six firms identified in the survey. Plants @ Work were identified as the best service provides for both interior and exterior plantscaping services. For interior plantscaping services, TOP's results were not significantly different from Plants @ Work. However, RL's results were significantly lower than Plants @ Work for exterior plantscaping services. To improve service levels to meet customer expectations, TOP and RL must develop and implement strategies to deliver service on time with comprehensive first time delivery completion, fix problems no matter what and handle administrative problems on invoicing more effectively. TOP and RL must create customer value by delivering "a customer experience" with each encounter.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: 'n Besigheid kan nie sonder kliënte bestaan nie. Die mees belangrike aspek van enigge besigheid is om sy kliënt se behoeftes te verstaan. Vir 'n besigheid om te oorleef in hoogs mededingende markte, moet dit produkte en dienste lewer wat aan die kliënt se behoefstes voorsien. Verskafferfirmas moet deurgans kliëntverhoudinge ondersoek, ondersteun en verpersoonlik. Kliëntverhoudingbestuur fokus op die verskaffing van oplossings wat inligting en mense dwarsoor die kliënt en diensverskafferspektrum verenig deur middel van rekenaartegnologie. Veral met die internet, het die groeiende behoefte vir elektroniese interaksie tussen kliënte en verskaffers gelei tot die vinnige ontwikkeling van kliëntverhoudingbestuur. Alhoewel verwag word dat e-handel die rigsnoer sal word in besigheid, sal mense-tot-mense interaksie egter mees belangrik bly in die verskaffing van uitstaande kliëntediens en bevrediging. Besighede sal dus gedefinieer word meer deur hulle verhouding met kliënte as deur hulle produkte. Daar is bevind dat goeie kliëntverhoudinge en kliëntbevrediging regstreeks verband hou met meer wins. Bevrediging word in die algemeen beskou as 'n benadering-tipe oordeel wat volg op 'n aankoopaksie. Bevestiging of ontkenning van voor-gebruik produkstandaarde is die noodsaaklike beslissende faktor van bevrediging. 'n Aantal modelle is ontwikkel om bevrediging beter te verstaan en te voorspel of 'n produk of diens kliëntverwagtinge bevredig of oortref. As gevolg van die menige verskillende einskappe wat bydra tot kliëntbevrediging, was modelle wat kliëntbevrediging voorspel dikwels te eenvoudig om 'n vattieende oorsig van alle beslissende faktore wat 'n invloed op kliëntbevrediging uitoefen, weer te gee. Dit word, nogtans, erken dat die klient die sleutelfiguur is in die lewering van voortdurende en winsgewinde groei. Die vinninge ontwikkeling van die Inligting Tegnologie (IT) is dus 'n vername faktor wat strukrag verleen aan die vinnige ontwikkeling van kliëntverhoudingbestuur, wat fokus op begrip vir die dryfkrag agter huidiger en toekomstige kliëntwinsgewindheid, en hierdie insig te gebruik om toewysing van hulpbronne dwarsoor alle spektrums wat kliëntverhoudings beïnvloed. In die toekoms sal kliëntverhoudingsbestuur 'n diepgaande invloed hê op die manier waarop besigheid gedoen word deur verskaffers in staat te stel om hulle kliënte vinniger en meer effektief te bereik met produkte en dienste. Nietemin, die konvensionele bemarkingsbeginsels wat produk, prys, verspreiding en reklame insluit en gebruik word om 'n bemarkingstrategie te ontwikkel, geld steeds, en is alles deel van die kliëntverhoudingbestuurproses. Die doel van die studieprojek was om die kritiese sukses faktore (KSF) te identifiseer wat kliëntbevrediging in die binne en buitemuurse plantuitlegindustrië bepaal. Daarna was The Office Plant (TOP) en Real Landscapes (RL) geevalueer in terme van kliëntverwagtinge met betrekking tot binne en buite produkte en dienste onderskeidelik. Opvallende aspekte van die navorsing se bevindinge het gewys dat mense wat in 'n kantooromgewing werk, gedink het dat plante noodsaaklike faktore was in die verbetering van die werkplek; kliënte het plantuitlegdienste uitgekontrakteer om die 'kommerfaktor' wat geassosieer word met die instandhouding van plante en tuine te verminder; dat kliënte waarde vir geld kry van hulle plantuitlegkontrakteurs onderskeidelik en dat die mees belangrike maatstaf vir die keuse van 'n plantuitlegkontrakteur "prys en waarde vir geld vir die diens" en "goei kwaliteit diens' insluit. Van 22 diensverwante eienskappe wat deur kliënte geëvalueer is, is bevind dat 20 statisties ewe belangrik was, en is geklassifiseer as KSF. In terme van rangskikking was die mees belangrikke eienskap "eerlik en professioneel in hulle sakeondernemings". Daarna volg "fink reaksie op versoeke", "netheid van plante", "stiptelike leweringsdiens", en "goed ingeligte en opgeleide personeel" onder die vyf hoogs aangeskrewe eienskappe. Algehele resultate het getoon dat geeneen van die sewe binnemuurse plantuitleërs wat in die opname geidentifiseer is, kliëntverwagtings in terme van diens geewenaar of oortref het nie. Vir buitemuurse plantuitlegdienste was Plants @ Work die enigste van ses firmas wat geïdentifiseer is in die opname, wat aan kliëntverwagtings voldoen het. Plant @ Work is geïdentifiseer as die beste diensleweraar vir beide binnemuurse en buitemuurse plantuitlegdienste. Vir binnemuurse plantuitlegdienste, was TOP se resultate nie beduidend anders as Plants @ Work s'n nie. RL se resultate was nietemin beduidend laer as Plants @ Work vir buitemuurse plantuitlegdienste. Om diensvlakke te verbeter om kliëntverwagtinge te bevredig, moet TOP en RL strategieë ontwikkel en verwesenlik om stiptelike diens te lewer met omvattende eerste keer aflewering wat volledig is. Probleme moet opgelos word ongeag wat, en administratiewe probleme in verband met fakturering moet effektief hanteer word. TOP en RL moet kliëntwaarde skep deur 'n kliëntervaring" met elke ontmoeting.

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