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To Investigate Customer Satisfaction Level of the Student Population

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1. Background

In 1988, Kopitiam Investment Pte Lte was set up in Singapore to secure a groundbreaking bid at S$2.1 million for a prime-site food shop. Since then the company has expanded at an alarming rate.

Today, the Kopitiam group is a leading name in the local food service management industry, being reputed for providing a comfortable, modern dining experience along with the authentic taste of local and international fare-all at competitive prices.

MDIS College is currently the school I am studying in. It is an established private school in Singapore offering preparatory courses for O levels and A levels, as well as providing overseas degrees and courses.

On the 28th February 2011, Kopitiam opened as the new main food provider in MDIS. Welcoming students, teachers and others to its food stalls.

1.1 Justification for Selection of Topic

Its been about half a year since the new school cafeteria “Kopitiam” in MDIS opened its stalls, and I seek to understand whether the change of the food provider from the previous coffee shop is a good thing or not. I have received various feedbacks about the food, prices and service about the Kopitiam and since I come to school everyday and eat at the Kopitiam everyday in school, I thought it would be very convenient and relevant to know more about the Kopitiam, and find out what works and what doesn’t in the F and B industry. This would greatly help if I were to become a manager in the industry in the future.

1.2 Research Problem statement
1.2.1 Objective
The Main objective of the research is to investigate the customer satisfaction level of the student population in regards to the school cafeteria in MDIS.

1.2.2 Sub-Objectives
In order to understand and know the customer satisfaction of Kopitiam in MDIS, it is necessary to consider contributing factors. -To find out whether the price is acceptable
-To find out the level of satisfaction of service in Kopitiam -To find out whether the customers are satisfied with the quality of food -To find out whether the customers feel the food is clean and safe for consumption -To find out whether the facilities and Kopitiam compound is clean and well maintained.

1.3 Scope

The scope of this research is mainly the student population, but excluding those who live in the MDIS hostel because their satisfaction level may greatly differ from the rest of the population due to the probable higher frequency of eating there.

2. Literature Review
2.1 Customer Satisfaction Theory
According to Qualtrics.com (N.D) Satisfaction is an overall psychological state that reflects the evaluation of a relationship between the customer/consumer and a company-environment-product-service. Satisfaction involves of the following three psychological elements: cognitive (thinking/evaluation), affective (emotional/feeling), and behavioral.

Expectations are that a product will produce certain outcomes given certain anticipated levels of performance based on previous affective, cognitive, and behavioral experiences. Expectations are often seen as related to satisfaction and can be measured as follows: -Importance: as value of product fulfilling the expectation

-Fulfillment of expectations: The expected level of performance vs. the desired expectations. This is “Predictive Fulfillment” and is a respondent specific index of the performance level necessary to satisfy.

-Expected value from use: Satisfaction is often determined by the frequency of use. If a product/service is not used as often as expected, the result may not be as satisfying as anticipated

This theory was considered when doing the questionnaires that we must first understand the student’s expectations of the Kopitiam first to get a better understanding of their level of satisfaction. However, since the expectations of the students cannot be asked as each person would perceive his/her expectations as normal and would not regard his expectations as high or low, it is foreseen that it will greatly complicate the study to an unnecessary degree. Thus the theory would be not be used in the questionnaire but would be a factor when evaluating the results of study.

2.2 7 Ps of the marketing mix
According to Thetimes100.co.uk, (2011), The marketing mix is a combination of marketing activities that a company engages in to meet the needs of its target market. We use the extended 7ps instead of the traditional 4ps because according to Magrath, A.J (2001), the four Ps are not enough for the marketing of services and another three Ps, strategic elements that occupy management’s attention must be included in the marketing mix. The 7ps are the

1) Product
2) Price
3) Place
4) Promotion
5) Personnel
6) Physical Evidence
7) Process
However for the simplification of the project and after consideration of an appropriate number of questions for the questionnaire, I decided to use only four of the seven Ps and they are those more directly related to the sub-objectives in 1.2.2. They are Price, Personnel, Product and Place.

2.3 Relating Questionnaire to the research objectives

As a questionnaire would be used in the research, it is important to use proper questionnaire planning and design in order to fit the research objectives. This theory is considered greatly when designing the questionnaire.

2.4 Designing a good questionnaire
According to Nardi, P.M (2003), to properly develop a good questionnaire one has to first conceptualize the task. The first steps are to list the set of research questions and hypotheses proposed and the variables in each of them,. Then begin to extract the key themes, goals and concepts of the study, making sure I have at least one questionnaire item for each of the variables in my hypotheses.

According to Nardi, P.M (2003), there are many factors to take note of when designing a questionnaire. These factors include having a variety of questions, using filtering questions, using a variety of closed and open ended questions, using indexes and other scales, avoiding double-barreled items, leading and loaded questions, and many more.

This literature was very helpful for me when designing my questionnaire. Also, there are many sample questions in the literature that I adapted in completing the design of questionnaire.

2.5 Service Quality

Quality, experts agree, “is whatever the customer says it is, and the quality of a particular product or service is whatever the customer perceives it to be” (Buzzell and Gale 1987). As you can see, the emphasis is on the customer and on perceived quality. There are objective measures of service that can be expressed in numerical terms, such as service time, errors in food orders, and length of waiting time. These are proxies (indirect measures) that are useful in tracking service quality. However, the product is, ultimately, the customers’ experience, and their subjective evaluation of that experience is the final determinant of quality. (Powers, 2002, pp. 25) Service quality is another important factor of customer satisfaction. The higher service quality level is, the higher the customer satisfaction. This theory is important in understanding customer satisfaction and this is reflected in questions regarding service quality in the questionnaire.

3.Outline of data requirements and overall research strategy I used one kind of data collection method and it is the self-administered survey.

3.1 Questionnaire

To properly choose the data collection plan I considered different factors that should be taken into consideration. Firstly there is only me, and I have to choose a very manpower efficient form of survey method and a feasible yet an adequate sample size. Therefore after certain consideration of my limitations and abilities, I have chosen the self-administered survey method.

According to Brace I (2008), self-administered methods can benefit from the absence of the interviewer from the process, removing a major source of potential bias. Also, it is considerably cheaper and man-power efficient as compared to interviewer administered ones.

The sampling method we are using is a non-probable convenience sampling. According to Castillo, J (2009), convenience sampling is a non-probability sampling technique where subjects are selected because of their convenient accessibility and proximity to the researcher

3.2 Limitations

There are some limitations of my research. Firstly, there is sampling bias in convenience sampling and the sample may not be representative of the entire population. In the case of using a self-administered survey method, Brace,I (2008) writes that there is no interviewer to identify when a respondent has misunderstood or has left out some questions.

4 Details of Information-Collection Methods
4.1 Methodology of Questionnaire Design

Before I typed out the questionnaires, I had already consulted and borrowed some books in the topic of questionnaire designs, and have a general idea of the Dos and Don’ts of the questionnaire design. Also I have looked up some examples and questionnaire templates online for reference. I searched for questionnaire templates and got many results, mostly of customer satisfaction of restaurants and fast food joints, and they were very helpful in giving me a general idea of what my questionnaire would be like.

After that I went through my objectives and sub objectives and formulated the questions based on them, assigning a few questions to each sub-objective. The questions also goes into different aspects of a sub-objective to give a deeper and clearer understanding of the customer satisfaction level. For example under the Food section, there are questions about variety of food, quality of food and cleanliness of food.

4.2 Methodology of Questionnaire Survey

The first thing I did after designing the questionnaire is to do the pilot test with one of my classmates with my questionnaire draft on my laptop. I chose one of the best classmates to do the pilot test because he would be more aware of mistakes if there were any. I told him to be very critical when doing the test.

After the pilot test there were some things to be changed, so I changed it immediately on the laptop.

I printed out 55 questionnaires, 5 extras just in case, at the school library because its cheaper and faster than using my home printer. On Thursday 20th October 2011, I gave out the questionnaires during the break of our law module class and a FOX sweet to my classmates for their help.

I gave out the questionnaires by a convenience sampling method, and for me that would be giving out the forms to those closest to me first and the first ones I come into contact till the forms are all given out to reduce any bias.

Before I gave out the questionnaire to each person I asked a screening question verbally first, which was “Have you lived or are living in the MDIS hostel?”. This step was necessary as my scope was the student population not living or had lived in the MDIS hostel. None of my classmates lived or are living in the MDIS hostel.

I told them they could ask me if they had any problems or enquires in doing the survey. I gave about 35 of them out during the break, many of them went to the canteen already so I gave out the rest after they came back.

I collected the questionnaires after class by collecting the survey forms one by one, asking whether there is any questions and answering some of their questions on how to answer the questions they are unsure of. The class ended at 6pm, and my collection ended at 6:32pm. At the end of the day I collected 51 copies. I didn’t ask where the other 4 went.

5. Details of data analysis methods
5.1 Data Analysis of Questionnaires

After the collection of the survey forms, I input the data into an excel sheet and used the Microsoft excel to draw graphs for easier understanding of the figures and for easier analysis. I tried to use the Xl Data Analyst but I do not have the proper software to do it as it requires a newer version of the Microsoft excel. I had the data and analyzed it according to different themes similar to that of my sub-objectives like Price, Service quality, Cleanliness and Quality of food. I realized I do not have a great variety of data as most of my questions are based on how the students feel about an aspect of the Kopitiam. I used a lot of bar charts to illustrate the data.

6. Results and Analysis
6.1 Feedback on Price of Food

Figure 1: Feedback on Price of Food
As seen in Figure 1, the people who uses the Kopitiam greatly outnumbers those who does not use it. Also for those who uses the Kopitiam card there is a much higher number that feels the price of food is cheap, 7 for very cheap and 13 for cheap, as oppose to just 5 for expensive and 1 for very expensive. For those who do not use the Kopitiam card though it is very balanced.

Evaluation: The Kopitiam card enables all students to have a 20% discount on all food and drinks discount in Kopitiam, therefore with the discount, it is evident that the prices of food in Kopitiam is reasonable and cheap. For those who do not uses the Kopitiam card, they may be more financially well off to ignore their rights to the 20% discount, thus even without the 20% discount the feedback to the prices are quite neutral. However, because there is just 10 people who did not use the Kopitiam card, it may not be a sufficient representation of the whole student population who does not use the Kopitiam card.

6.2 Feedback on Quality and Variety of Food

Figure 2: Feedback on Quality and Variety of Food
As seen in Figure 2, the highest amount of people chose neutral for both quality and variety of food. Comparing the good vs poor and V.Good vs V.Poor though, there are more people that chose poor and v. poor in the quality and variety of food. Also it is seen that the numbers of those at quality of food and variety of food is very close.

Evaluation: As more people chose Poor and V.Poor in both aspects, it is evident that the quality and variety of food is not sufficient for majority of the students. Also we can see a close relationship between quality of food and variety of food. This may be due to the fact that some students only eat a small variety of food offered in the Kopitiam, and over time would grow tired of the small variety of food they eat in the Kopitiam, thus giving a lower rating on the quality of food where in fact the quality of food is not that low.

6.3 Feedback on Cleanliness

Figure 3: Feedback on Cleanliness
From figure 3 we can see that there is a very high number positive responses on both the cleanliness of food and the Kopitiam area, 68% of the students chose either V.Good or Good in the cleanliness of food and 70% of the students chose either V.Good or Good in the cleanliness of the Kopitiam.

Evaluation: The staff of Kopitiam have done a good job keeping the area clean. As for the Cleanliness of food, they certainly have given a good impression and perception of it, either by being transparent in handling of food, little cases of foreign objects in the food or by using proper equipment like gloves when handling food. 6.4 Feedback on Service

Figure 4: Feedback on Service
As seen in Figure 4, majority of the students gave a positive rating in the promptness and efficiency of the Kopitiam service, whereas for friendliness and courtesy, it is slightly more balanced but but leaning toward the poor side with 42% giving a poor or v.poor rating as compared to 28%.

Evaluation: This shows us that the Kopitiam staff’s promptness and efficiency is satisfactory to the student population but are not seen as very friendly and courteous. However, even if the majority chose from neutral to a negative rating of the friendliness, there are still 5 students that chose a V.Good rating for that portion, a significant 10%. This may be due to friendliness on the student’s part too, as humans, and street vendors alike, react and respond more positively to a positive and friendly customer. This shows the service providers in Kopitiam may not necessarily be unfriendly or discourteous, just that they may not be proactive in being friendly. 6.5 Overall Satisfaction Level

Figure 5: Overall Satisfaction Level
As can be seen from the Figure 5, the highest number of students chose seven as their overall satisfaction level. No students chose one or two. Highest rating is 10 and lowest rating 3. The mean number is 6.5.

Evaluation: The mean score of Kopitiam’s customer satisfaction level is 6.5 over 10 which is pretty decent. No one particularly hated the Kopitiam.

6.6 Conclusion of findings
In an overall sense Kopitiam is doing okay, there are some aspects of the business they should look into and some they should keep up. They scored pretty well in their pricing of food, cleanliness of food and area and promptness and efficiency of service. However they did not score as well in the aspects of food quality, food variety and friendliness and courtesy.

Although students will still patronise the Kopitiam despite the low quality of food and other unsatisfactory factors because it is the only provider of food in MDIS as of now, and is the most convenient source of food in the area, it should still improve upon its food quality and other aspects of its operations in the future as MDIS is having plans to allow more food providers into the campus.

7. Reference List

Qualtrics.com (N.D), Customer Satisfaction Theory, http://www.qualtrics.com/university/customer-satisfaction-theory/ , viewed at 17th July 2011

Powers, T., 2002, Marketing Hospitality: 3rd Edition. New York: John Wiley Brace, I (2008), QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN: HOW TO PLAN, STRUCTURE AND WRITE SURVEY MATERIAL FOR EFFECTIVE MARKET RESEARCH, 2nd ed, London: Ian Brace

Castillo, J (2009). Convenience Sampling. Experiment Resources: http://www.experiment-resources.com/convenience-sampling.html , viewed 14th July 2011

McNamara, C, (1999). General Guidelines for Conducting Interviews, Minnesota, 1999

Nardi, P.M (2003), DOING SURVEY RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO QUANTITATIVE METHODS. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

TheTimes100.co.uk (2011), The Extended Marketing Mix (7Ps), viewed 29th October 2011, viewed at

Margrath A.J, (2001), WHEN MARKETING SERVICES, 4 Ps ARE NOT ENOUGH, [e-journal] Vol. 29 Issue 3, p44, Available through EBSCOhost database [Accessed 29th October 2011]

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