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Customer satisfaction with Vodafone services in Udham Singh Nagar Mukesh Pandey* & Geetesh Pant

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Introduction: Indian Telecom industry is one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world. Growth rate of telecom industry in India is 45 percent1. Tele-density in India has increased from 12.7 per cent in 2006 to 33 per cent in 20082. The booming Indian telecom industry is adding around nine million mobile connections every month, but the quality of service provided to the subscribers has been debatable over the last few years. The perceptions and expectations of consumers are continually evolving, making it difficult for service providers to measure and manage services effectively. As such, a study was conducted with the following objectives: 1. To analyze the problems faced and the satisfaction level of Vodafone cellular users in Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand. 2. To recommend strategies for improving customer satisfaction in accordance with SERVQUAL3 model.

Review of Literature Amanjyot Singh et al. (2005)4 conducted a study titled ‘Customer Satisfaction And Quality Audit Report Of Escotel Mobile Communications Limited’ and suggested that for maximizing the service quality in service industries the relationship between the dealers and customers should be strong and pricing should be constantly reviewed. Shikha Ojha(2009)5 conducted a study on Consumer Awareness of VAS of Telecom Sector of India. She analyzed the contribution of the mobile phone services not only at the national or state level, but also its involvement in an individual's life. She found out that the less number of users are aware of all the VAS provided by the service providers and thus the companies should focus on the awareness campaign. G.V.Chalam (2005)6 conducted a study on Quality of Services in Indian Telecom Sector: Users’ Perception- An Assessment. This study deals with growth, working and types of services provided by the Telecom circle in macro environment. The findings of the study reveal that the expectations of the telecom users are high among the subscribers of recent times because of their sense of time vs. money value and awareness of their rights. The basic motto of the telecom department is to provide excellent services to its customers against the present competition from the private sector. In this direction, it is doing its best to acquire and retain its new and old customers.

Research Methodology

Study was done at Rudrapur, Pantnagar, Kashipur, Bazpur, Kichcha and Khatima zones during March to May, 2009 in Udham Singh Nagar District of Uttarakhand. Descriptive study was done. Internet and Newspapers were used to extract secondary data. Primary data was collected through non probabilistic convenience sampling from survey of 150 Vodafone users which included both genders from different occupation, income and age groups. A structured questionnaire consisting of both open and closed ended questions was used. Data analysis was done with the help of SERVQUAL model given by Parasuraman, Berry and Zeithaml. Duration of study was two months.

*Dr. Mukesh Pandey, Btech PGDBM (IIM-Calutta), PhD is an Associate Professor at College of Agribusiness Management, G.B.P.U.A&T, Pantnagar.

SERVQUAL or GAPS Model

** Geetesh Pant is a 2009 batch MBA (Marketing) student of College of Agribusiness Management, G.B.P.U.A&T, Parasuraman, Zeithmal and Berry defined five dimensions of service quality determinants viz. Pantnagar. He is presently working as an Assistant Manager with IDBI Bank Ltd.

1. Reliability: Ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately. 2. Responsiveness: Willingness to help customers and provide prompt services. 3. Assurance: Knowledge and courtesy of the employees and their ability to inspire trust and confidence. 4. Empathy: The provision of caring, individualized attention to its customers. 5. Tangibles: Physical facilities, equipment, personnel and communication materials.

According to them, 1) Gap= Expectations- Perceptions 2) Service quality= f (Gap)

The model demands study of following gaps before recommending strategies for improving customer satisfaction. GAP 1: Gap between consumer expectations and management perception GAP 2: Gap between management perception and service quality specification GAP 3: Gap between service quality specification and service delivery GAP 4: Gap between service delivery and external communication GAP 5: Gap between perceived service and expected service Results and Analysis:

1) Attribute Testing:

A list of 37 attributes which consumers use to evaluate the quality of a cellular service was put forth the respondents. They were then asked to rate each attribute on a scale ranging from indispensible, very important, important, less important to not important. This analysis of consumer behavior resulted in identification of following top 15 attributes in terms of degree of importance:

1) Ease of connectivity 2) Good network coverage 3) Easy availability of recharge vouchers 4) Good knowledge of latest schemes among dealers 5) No server break down 6) Timely delivery of message 7) Good network coverage while travelling 8) Information on new or modified services/schemes 9) Quick response to consumer requests/queries/problems 10)Knowledgeable company employees: Correct response to consumers queries 11) No hidden charges 12) Recharge coupons of different denominations 13)Conveniently located dealers/stores 14)Updated, informative website 15)Facilities for hassle-free usage Customer satisfaction level Attribute 1. Timely delivery of message Delighted
2. 3. 4. 1. 2. 3. 4. 6. 1. 2. 3.

Satisfied

Good knowledge of latest schemes among dealers Availability of recharge vouchers Recharge coupons of different denominations Ease of connectivity No server break down Good network coverage Conveniently located dealers/stores

5. Updated, informative website Not satisfied
Information of new or modified services/schemes Good network coverage while travelling Quick response to request/query/problem Knowledgeable company employees: Correct response to consumers queries 4. No hidden charges 5. Facilities for hassle-free usage

For each of the above top 15 attributes, customer satisfaction index was calculated. Total customer satisfaction score was calculated by multiplying the weights (ratings given by the respondents to a particular attribute) and the frequency (number of consumers) and then summing up the scores for each weight.

On the basis of the scores obtained, the customer satisfaction level with these attributes was classified as delighted, satisfied and not satisfied. These attributes had the highest weighted average score which meant that the consumer decides about buying and retaining cellular phone services based on their satisfaction with the above 15 attributes.

2) Importance- performance analysis matrix:

The following Importance-Performance analysis matrix is used to rate the various elements of the service and identify what actions are required. The matrix highlights the different attributes in accordance to customers’ importance and Vodafone’s performance. Importance-performance analysis7 consists of a matrix which includes four quadrants:

QUADRANT A B C D
Hi gh

INTERPRETATION Minor service elements that are being delivered in a mediocre way. Shows important service elements that are being performed well. Minor service elements that are being performed in an excellent manner. Shows important service elements that are not being performed at the desired level.

A. OVERKILL
(High Performance, Low Importance)

B. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK
(High performance, High Importance)

V O D A F O N E’ S P E R F O R M A N C E

1. Vodafone ads instill confidence in the customer. 2. Vodafone network is available during bad weather.

C. LOW PRIORITY
(Low Performance, Low Importance)

1. Timely delivery of message. 2. Good knowledge of latest schemes among dealers 3. Availability of recharge vouchers. 4. Ease of connectivity. 5. No servers break down. 6. Good network coverage. 7. Conveniently located dealers/stores. 8. Updated, informative website. 9. Information of new or modified services/schemes 10. Recharge coupons of different denominations. D) CONCENTRATE HERE
(Low Performance, High Importance)

1. Appearance of employees. 2. Visually appealing promotional material. 3. Extended business hours. 4. Follow up with customers.

1. Good network coverage while travelling. 2. Quick response to request/query/problem. 3. Knowledgeable company employees: Correct response to consumers queries. 4. No hidden charges. 5. Facilities for hassle-free bill payment.

Recommendations:
1) Infrastructure sharing is the new game plan for telecom operators be it Airtel, Vodafone,

2)

3)

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5)

6)

Reliance or Tata Indicom. Vodafone is currently sharing 33 percent of its infrastructure and plans to increase it to 66 percent by 20108. For eg. In Pantnagar University, Vodafone has only one tower installed while Airtel has two towers within the University. Infrastructure sharing with Airtel can surely improve the network availability of Vodafone in High Pantnagar. Low CONSUMER’S IMPORTANCE Similarly infrastructure sharing with other service providers in other towns of Udham Singh Nagar will also help in improving reliability of Vodafone services. High frequency transmitters and signal boosters can be installed in important highways (NH-87 which connects Udham Singh Nagar to Delhi) and in areas of high network congestion. This will help in improving the network availability while travelling and also reduce network congestion. According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) the 3G license will only be provided to 5 telecom operators in a particular circle out of which 3 will be private players. 3G license is not yet out for private players. BSNL has already started its operations in India. Vodafone’s 3G is in testing phase right now. Vodafone can be the first private telecom operator in India to grab this license. This will certainly give them an edge over the competitors. Vodafone should also come up with economical 3G supported handsets for the customers. This will also help in keeping the customers tied up with Vodafone. Researches indicate that acquiring newIMPORTANCE cost five times more than the costs customers can Low CONSUMER’S High involved in satisfying and retaining current customers9. Vodafone should start a customer loyalty program for its customers like it has done in UK. Under this program Vodafone can tie up with domestic airlines, hotel groups or some retail chains. The customers can earn bonus points depending upon their monthly usage and tenure of using Vodafone services and avail the benefits at these points. Loyalty bonus can also be offered in the form of free SMS, extra talk time, discounted call rates, etc. to the customers. Most of the towns in Udham Singh Nagar don’t have a Vodafone store/mini store. As a result most of the customers are totally dependent upon dealers. Opening up of Vodafone stores in these towns will not only allow the postpaid users to pay their bills conveniently but will also lead to a direct interaction between the customers and Vodafone executives. It will allow the customers to get answers to all their queries directly and be updated with the latest offers and best deals available. Other than providing information about the latest schemes, Vodafone’s website should be used as a medium where the users can register their complaints and get a response within 24 hours of their registration. A provision to keep a track of the status of complaint should also be provided. The website also needs to be updated very frequently to keep the user informed of the latest offerings.

7) Hidden charges are mainly involved in using VAS and Vodafone live service (GPRS). These

charges should be properly stated through a confirmation message before activation of any service. There should be a toll-free number through which the user can get all the details including charges, validity, etc for using different services provided by Vodafone. 8) Facilities of free calls/SMS after using special add-on tariffs are sometimes not valid on festive days. In such a case prior information should be provided to the users through SMS. 9) Installation of Kiosks in centralized locations in major cities of Udham Singh Nagar will allow the post paid customers to pay their bills with ease, change their billing plan, print their bills, etc. The customers can avail the services through these Kiosks 24x7. 10) A simple procedure for activating/deactivating of VAS through SMS or through the website should be there. This procedure should also be advertised from time to time. 11)Unwanted calls were identified as one of the biggest problem that was faced by the respondents. These calls are made to inform the customer about new services or schemes introduced by Vodafone, but an excess of these calls leads to the irritation of the customer. The number of these calls should be reduced. An option for deactivating these calls should also be provided. A toll free number should be provided at which the users can SMS a particular code asking for the deactivation of such calls/SMS. The entire process should also be advertised from time to time, so that the customer can be aware of such a process. 12)Training of employees is an integral part for smooth functioning of any business. Vodafone’s training should mainly focus on behavioral, technical and psychological aspects. Behavioral Training- The fact that professionals in telecom industry have to interact with a number of people makes it imperative for them to have effective communication and other behavioral skills. This should include training on enhancement of communication skills, team spirit, personal grooming, negotiating skills, consulting skills, attitudinal change, crosscultural management and self-management. Quarterly training calendars should be drawn up to address the behavioral development needs, ranging from preparatory skills for entry level engineers, to leadership themes for first-time managers to generic skills like conflict management, influencing skills, cross-cultural skills, etc. Technical training: The primary target audience groups for this module should be: Technical sales personnel, Call center staff supporting customers technical queries, Technical staff new to telecommunications, Corporate IT managers evaluating mobile data , equipment and software vendors, cellular technology retailers, dealer and systems integrators. It includes training related to use of different software and analytical tools, understanding the systems and the processes, understanding the various wireless data applications and services available. Training individuals and corporates in latest wireless and telecom technologies including GSM, GPRS, 3G, etc can also be very useful. Psychological training- The psychological training is one of the forms leading to better selfknowing and self-esteem of a personality. Social - psychological trainings based on different role plays, exercises, activities, case studies and problem situations should be provided. Four key psychological processes i.e. motivation, perception, learning and memory fundamentally influence consumer responses to various marketing stimuli. It includes exploring oneself, empathy, assertive behavior development, moral development, training in constructive ways of solving problem and strategies of coping with burden situations, inculcating friendly behavior and willingness to cooperate as well as protective behavior characterized by responsibility and self confidence.

13)Before launching any new schemes/service the executives should be properly trained.

Manuals covering the entire aspect should be prepared and circulated to the executives. Every minute detail regarding the scheme/service should be mentioned in these manuals. 14) Vodafone can conduct regular customer service audits to monitor quality standards and customer satisfaction levels.

REFERENCES

1. www.outsource2india.com

2. Highlights of Economic Survey 2007-2008 3. Parsuman, A, Valarie A. Zeithamal, Leonard L. Berry,(1985), “A Conceptual Model of Service Quality and its Implications for Future Research”, Journal of Marketing, 41-50 4. Singh, Amanjyot, Anisha Khanna, Apar Bansal, Ashish Kumar Varun, Surabhi Shah, Shweta Juneja and Vivek Sharma, 2005, Customer Satisfaction And Quality Audit Report Of Escotel Mobile Communications Limited, MBA Project Report submitted at IIT Roorkee 5. Ojha,Shikha, (2009), “Consumer Awareness of VAS of Telecom Sector of India”, The Icfai University Journal of Infrastructure,1-14 6. Chalam G.V.,2005, “Quality of Services in Telecom Sector: Users’ Perception- An Assessment”, Icfai University Journal of Managerial Economics, Volume 3, Issue 2,Pages77-93 7. Martilla, John A., John C. James,(1977), “Importance-Performance Analysis”, Journal of Marketing, 77-79 8. The Global Information Technology Report 2008-2009