relationships between companies and their customers

relationships between companies and their customers.

Consumer Research

Overview of the assignment:

You are required to write an individual assignment of no more than 2,000 words (excluding the list of references or bibliography, but including supporting material in appendices) which will be in the format of a Proposal to carry out Research in order to address a marketing issue which is currently causing concern to businesses, marketing practitioners, and policy-making in the UK, and which has an impact on sustainability and potentially on the theory of the marketing concept.

Earlier in 2014, the Institute of Customer Care published the results of their annual assessment of customer service and customer satisfaction in the UK.  The report highlights declining customer satisfaction across sectors, product types, and product categories.  The findings and conclusions of this report confirm similar concerns expressed in the business press and by academics about decreasing satisfaction on the part of UK consumers with the service provided across sectors of the national economy.  In spite of this agreement, though, there is no clear understanding of why this is the case, what should (if anything) be done about this, and what it means for companies, consumers, and the national economy.

 

In order to answer the above questions, empirical research needs to be planned and carried out.  You have been tasked, as part of this individual assignment, to write up a proposal for carrying out the empirical research in question.

In your individual assignment, you should build upon theories in marketing and consumer behaviour (e.g. those on service provision, customer satisfaction, and relationships between companies and their customers) and explain what new research could be carried out and how it should be carried out, so that marketing practitioners and policy-makers (or consumer protection agencies) can be advised and solutions to this issue could be provided.

This assignment is your chance to explain how a marketing and consumer behaviour practitioner wishing to research this issue should go about conducting the research (i.e. what type of research should be carried out, how, why such choices – you feel – are appropriate).

 

Students are allowed to exceed the word count limit by 10% (the + 10% rule therefore applies to this assignment).

In order to assist you in starting working on the assignment, below are some academic articles and business reports on issues which are related to the specific topic.  You need to read the relevant literature before planning and writing up your Research Proposal.

Some academic studies of service provision, customer satisfaction, and relationships between companies and their customers:

Anderson, E., Fornell, C. and Mazvancheryl, S. (2004), “Customer satisfaction and shareholder value”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 68, pp. 172-85.

Grönroos, C. (2004), “The relationship marketing process”, Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Vol. 19, pp. 99-113.

Hodgson, D. (2002), “Know your customer”, Management Decision, Vol. 40, pp. 318-28.

Huang, W. and Dubinsky, A. (2014), “Measuring customer pre-purchase satisfaction in a retail setting”, Services Industries Journal, Vol. 34, pp. 212-29.

Olsen, L. and Johnson, M. (2003), “Service equity, satisfaction, and loyalty”, Journal of Service Research, Vol. 5, pp. 184-95.

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Some practitioner analyses of service provision, customer satisfaction, and relationships between companies and their customers:

http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/consumer_and_retail/the_three_cs_of_customer_satisfaction_consistency_consistency_consistency

http://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com/10560/UK-Customer-Satisfaction-Index-UKCSI.html

http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-high-price-of-customer-satisfaction/

Format of the assignment:

There are three main components (sections) to the assignment:

Section 1). Introduction & Overview of the Issue

In this section you will be expected to explain the importance and implications the topic and should summarise some of the literature on this topic, based on your reading academic theories and business reports on service provision, customer satisfaction, and relationships between companies and their customers.  You should not simply describe such research, but analyse and integrate theories together to help you understand your topic.  In this section, you also need to clearly state the research questions, objectives and (if applicable) the hypotheses that will form the basis for and guide you through your empirical research.  This section is not only the Introduction but also the basis for the research that you are planning to carry out.

Section 2). Methodology

BEM 3010 is a module on methodology.  Therefore, the methodology section will be the biggest and most important among the sections in your assignment.  In it, you will need to discuss HOW you wish to answer the research questions, objectives (or hypotheses, if applicable) discussed in Section 1.

You should identify and justify your research design(s) and/or research strategy(ies).

Next, you will need to discuss (and justify once again) the different methods you wish to employ for collecting and analysing data.

Information about the sample being used and why you feel this is a good sample should also be included.

You should also produce and discuss your instrument for data collection (interview guide or sample questionnaire), and cover the analysis techniques that may be useful.

Research problems, complications, and ethical issues should also be identified, discussed, and solutions to those – provided.

The key to this section is an appreciation for how you wish to go about your research and why you feel the approach that you have chosen is the best approach.

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Section 3). Conclusion

A short section concluding your assignment is also to be added towards the end.  In this section, you can reiterate the importance of your planned research – i.e. Why is this research needed?  How will it add to our knowledge?  Will it inform marketing practice (and how)?  Are such research and its findings likely to be significant; would they affect practice or policy in this area?  In this section you will also need to reflect on the impact of such practices and your planned research on: sustainability issues, theory of the marketing concept.

While being critical to your overall argument, it is commonly expected that the first and last parts of the assignment (Sections 1 and 3) will be shorter than the more substantive section of the assignment (Section 2).

It is up to you how you organise the separate sections of your assignments and whether you add visual, supporting material such as tables, figures, photographs.  Please bear in mind that such supporting material is also included in the word count limit.

You may decide to clearly mark (or not) each section with sub-headings.  Irrespective of the approach that you take, you will be expected to cover all of the issues / aspects / ingredients of the assignment, as explained above, in this section of the coursework brief.

Please remember that this assignment is a Research Proposal, i.e. it asks you to only plan a hypothetical piece of research.

You are not expected to collect any data for this assignment i.e. you are not expected to actually carry out the empirical research that you will be describing in this assignment.  All you need to do is state what you wish to do in terms of carrying out additional research on the chosen topic and why your choices are appropriate.

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