Research Design-Company Service Delivery Assessment

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Introduction

Researches conducted by various companies in form of customer surveys are commonly used to determine the needs of customers as well as their level of satisfaction and anticipations. Both business experts and researchers agree to the fact that customer satisfaction, service quality and consumer loyalty are basic factors that determine the level of success in any company (eSurveyspro.com, 2011).


These research formats and their results help companies to know their competitive capacity and weaknesses as well as their market share the perception the market holds about them. All this information is then applied in policy formulation and business strategy to enhance the companys position and competitive advantage (eSurveyspro.com, 2011).


More often these types of research yield both objective and subjective data and information that is used in analysis. This paper focuses on the design of a research that may be used by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America in determining its position in the market with regard to customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction as well as the nature of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and this is the main objective and focus of the research, its design and the design of the questionnaire-which should reflect the objectives.


The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, founded the 1860s is in the top five mutual life Insurance firms in the U.S.A. the company has a wide network with above 80 branches all over the nation. The firm in collaboration with its affiliated subsidiaries offers an array of insurance products to various organizations as well as individuals. The covers offered by the firm include dental and health insurance, disability insurance and life insurance. As a mutual company the firm has the onus to establish stability and strength on behalf of the companys policyholders and investors.


The firm is quite different from most insurance companies that are owned publicly because it does not make any special preferences on interests held by neither the policyholders nor their shareholders (My-life-insured.com, 2007). The companys policy maintains that the mutual status idea is a continuous practice and mission, bound to equally benefit the parties involved. The company has established popularity for its quality, professionalism, value, accessibility and performance.


The companys mission and visions towards success had made it possible for the company to grow financially and become more profitable. However, being at the fourth position nation-wide in terms of ranking means that the firm has more room for improvement and it needs to seek reasons as to why it cannot woo more customers that its three top competitors. This leads us to our research design that will help us access this possibility and status quo using this research design (My-life-insured.com, 2007).


There are different methods of research, but some are more suitable for some situations than others, because each design of research has its own weaknesses and strengths. The choice of a method that systematizes and organizes a research is of paramount importance because it may influence the results obtained. The choice depends on desired information, ethical considerations, and feasibility of survey, costs and reliability (Jackson, 2008).


Two widely known categorizations include the qualitative and quantitative methods. In order to meet this goal a qualitative research design shall be chosen as the most appropriate research design, under which the method of surveying shall be employed. The survey method will serve well as our research method, because it is most appropriate in getting information on phenomenon that cannot be empirically observed or experimented (Anonymous, 2010).


Specifically, a cross-sectional survey method shall be employed because the survey shall not be conducted over a long time in order to determine satisfaction over time, but the survey shall rather be instantaneous and thus determining the particular levels and nature of satisfaction at a fixed time period (Anonymous, 2010). Qualitative researches are subjective, non-generalizable, inductive and mostly in words, but they also include figures though not as much as the quantitative type.


This is the most appropriate approach for this survey because the researcher cannot afford to remain objective throughout the study as required by quantitative methods-where the researcher should only deal with figures. In a qualitative research the researcher may be directly involved in the research through questionnaire administration or interviewing sessions. For example in cases of assessing how long it takes to get a claim processed, the data generated may all be objective (Ross, 1999).


However; if the researcher wishes to go further and determine the level of satisfaction in the promptness of service, they may have to come face-to-face with claimants and ask them questions, of which they will have to make judgment on the manner in which the questions were answered in order to determine the non-verbal connotation of the reply which has significance with regard to level of satisfaction and the nature of the satisfaction.


For example, the researcher may ask a claimant: How did you feel after waiting for your claim to be processed for over a month? In registering the answer offered, the researcher may have to take into consideration the non-verbal communication in order to record a right answer. As a result, a subjective element is introduced into the research which kicks out the quantitative method, thus leading to a preference of the qualitative approach. This is in line with the generalization that qualitative research involves a certain element of studying the behavior of humans and their choices, habits and preferences.


Additionally, quantitative researches require a theory or some already observed element that needs to be proved (Ross, 1999). However, in our case there no observation about the satisfaction level, but we would like to make a survey that will offer us some observation or theory upon which we can induce a general picture or further move on to a quantitative research in order to prove it. An example of a theory generated would be: Claimants that waited for longer tended to express higher dissatisfaction than those that waited for a shorter time.


Finally, due to the fact that the qualitative methods are subjective, the elements sampled tend to change over time because their observed nature changes over time, in contrast to quantitative cases where there is 100% percent objectivity. However, it is important to note that data in form of numbers can also be generated from qualitative research and it does not exclusively use words. The approach to sampling shall make considerations with regard to market niches the companys products occupy, the clientele type and categories the company holds as well as the different products that the company offers.


All these considerations are made because the research is meant to ensure that the sampled clients shall be a true representative of the population to be sampled (Marshall, 1996). In order to achieve this goal representative sampling shall be employed through the specific use of stratified sampling method that shall ensure different clients are sampled including those having different products, originating from different market niches (Starpac.com, 2011).


The identification of these differences that create strata (sub-sets of the whole population) shall enable each strata to be sampled and thereby generating samples that will be true representatives of the general market of the company. Stratified sampling is chosen because it will reduce the sampling error that is common in random sampling. However, random sampling still has to be applied within each stratum. This may prove important because not all defined stratums have the same incidence (Starpac.com, 2011).


Though quantitative methods are resource and time saving, they require a lot careful and thoughtful planning strategies to make sure the obtained results are good. Additionally, data analysis especially; that generated in form of numbers from qualitative analysis may pose challenges at its analysis phase, because of its subjective nature (Jackson, 2008). As such it may not be easy to analyze it in a more comprehensive manner as one would do with quantitative data in form of figures.


Instead the figures may only give a hint to the general trends which in actual sense cannot be generalized until proven through quantitative means. This method is also open the opinions of the researcher through its subjective nature, and therefore; can only be used to generate observations and not results. Unlike quantitative means, these research formats can not be replicated and lack the ability of getting peer reviews (Shuttleworth, 2009).


Questionnaire for the research:

The research shall use a questionnaire, because of the difficulties to access people at right times to get appointments and schedule interviews. Additionally, this shall save time, because various people can fill the questionnaires simultaneously and mail them back. This is far much faster than having to travel and meet each interview to conduct the interviews. Additionally, this will save the company on survey costs because, the mailing cost may be cheaper, compared to traveling in order to make interviews.


The only thing that will be negative about the method is that it may be unable to record the non-verbal or written messages, however; this element may slightly be covered through the use of open ended questions where clients surveyed can express openly their thoughts. The questionnaires shall consist of various close-ended and open-ended questions. The main consideration here shall be mapping objectives and aims of the research in to questions. So that the questions will be reflective of the research and able to offer answers to the objectives intended for the research activity.


Apart from open-ended and close-ended questions the questionnaires will also contain rating and ranking questions which may have multiple choices. These shall be especially, useful in determining the level of satisfaction and the Likert scale may later be applied to their interpretation. The rating, ranking and close-ended questions may be used to rate and measure various aspects of the survey.


On the other hand, the open ended questions may be difficult to measure or interpret mathematically, but they can be of good use in determining the clients areas of concern, needs and wishes. These factors are actually important in making reforms to products and service delivery, because clients can offer insight into how a company may improve their service delivery or products. These responses pin-point the problems and provide insight into issues the company may not have been aware about.


The questionnaires queries will be divided into three categories. The first category shall analyze satisfaction with regard to service delivery-how effective the company is in delivering services such as fast processing of claims and registration of policy applications and handling of paper work.


The second category will evaluate satisfaction with regard to product features-this will evaluate whether clients perceive that the product offered covers their needs comprehensively or it requires improvement (e.g. an increase in cover amount, payment rates and period adjustments or premium reduction). The last section shall evaluate the general perception of the clients about the company in general.


Service Delivery Questions:

1. How do you rate Guardian Life Insurance Company customer service?

A.    Excellent B. Good.  C. Average. D. Fair.  E. Poor.

2. How were you welcomed by our representatives?

A. Warm and collected. B. Rude and cold.


3. How long did it take before you got someone to address your problem?

A. 15 minutes.  B. 30 minutes. C. 1 hour. D. 1 day. E. You got no one.

4. How many days did your claim take to be processed?

A. 1 day.  B. 2-3 days. C. 1 week. D. 2-3 weeks. E. 1 month.


5. How can you describe you overall experience with our staff members?

Answer in at least one short paragraph below:

6. Did you feel that you had gotten the best and satisfactory service?

Answer in at least one short paragraph below:


7. How would rate our customer service delivery?

A.    Excellent B. Good.  C. Average. D. Fair.  E. Poor.


Product Features and Suitability Questions:

1. How do you rate Guardian Life Insurance Company products?

A.    Excellent B. Good.  C. Average. D. Fair.  E. Poor

2. How well was the product tailored to fit your insurance needs?

A.    Excellently tailored B. Well tailored.  C. Average tailored. D. Fairly tailored.  E. Poorly tailored


3. Which product do you currently hold? And would you what it changed or not? (Tick your choice).

A. Whole life insurance (changed/not changed).

B. Variable whole life insurance (changed/not changed).

C. Universal life Insurance (changed/not changed).

D. Variable universal life insurance (changed/not changed).


4. What would you wish to be changed in the product?

(Please give a brief description below).

4. Are there any other products that you think the company should introduce? And if so, how would you like them to be? (Offer a brief description and the features you would wish them to have included).


5. How do you generally rate the company’s products?

A. Excellent B. Good.  C. Average. D. Fair.  E. Poor.


The Company’s Status Questions:

1. How do you rate Guardian Life Insurance Company in overall terms?

A. Excellent B. Good.  C. Average. D. Fair.  E. Poor.


2. How could you rate our company in terms of offering you insurance solutions?

A. Unfavorable. B. Unexceptional. C. Redeeming.  D. High performance.

Multiple choice questions will be assessed using the Likert scale during the analysis phase, and the open ended questions will be used to establish customers’ needs, feeling and desires for change.


Peer review and points to note in the questionnaire:

After a peer review of the questionnaire, the commentary was positive however, there were a few places within the questionnaire that notably required changes. The use of descriptors as noted by my peer in the last question under the third section of questions was not very appropriate considering that I may need to administer the questionnaire to people that may lack an explicit understanding of the descriptors used (Unfavorable, Unexceptional, Redeeming, High performance). Notably this may affect the choices made and therefore, there is a need to use a descriptive with simple words which have an explicit and openly discernible connotation (Kalt, 2009).


The reviewer of the questionnaire also noted that it may be difficult to tell if the respondents answered the questions with certainty, because most clients may have been served along time ago and they cannot even remember the service quality received and are therefore likely to guess (Kalt, 2009). As a suggestion the reviewer suggested that I should add a question that will help me determine the period that had elapsed since the client was served so as to evaluate the validity of the response offered.


References

Anonymous (2010),. Survey methods, retrieved on 26th February, 2011 from http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~palmquis/courses/survey.html

eSurveyspro.com (2011),. Customer satisfaction surveys, retrieved on 26thhttp://www.esurveyspro.com/article-customer-satisfaction-surveys.aspx February, 2011 from

Jackson, L. S. (2008),. Research methods and statistics: A critical thinking approach, 3rd edition, Cengage Learning Publishers

Kalt, N. (2009),. How to improve your questionnaire, retrieved on 26th February, 2011 from http://www.mysteryshoppinglive.com/how-to-improve-your-questionnaire/

Marshall, N. M. (1996),. Sampling for qualitative research: The Family Practice Journal, volume number 13, issue number 6, pp522-525

My-life-insured.com (2007),. Guardian Life insurance Company of America, retrieved on 26th February, 2011 from http://www.my-life-insured.com/guardianlife.php

Ross, J. (1999),. Ways of approaching research: Qualitative design, retrieved on 26th February, 2011 from http://www.fortunecity.com/greenfield/grizzly/432/rra2.htm

Shuttleworth, M. (2009),. Research Design: Qualitative research design, retrieved on 26th February, 2011 from, http://www.experiment-resources.com/qualitative-research-design.html.

Starpac.com. (2011),. Survey sampling methods, retrieved on 26th February, 2011 from http://www.statpac.com/surveys/sampling.htm

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