Several studies were made to recognize the importance of service quality and customer satisfaction in major public transport industry in many countries. The need for closer involvement of public transport administrators in the process of transforming the public transport system begins with improving service quality.
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The Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Klang Valley, Malaysia is considerably the most popular mode of public transportation in the area followed by the monorail transit and KTM trains (Kamaruddin, Osman, and Che Pei 2011). These public train transports represent the primary mode of mobility for the people of Klang Valley. The volume of commuters that the train companies are servicing translates to a range of problems such as capacity constraints, feeder shortage underutilized segments, and lack of reinvestment for over 12 years (Land Public Transport Commission 2013). These problems had an adverse implication towards the quality of service that the train transport sector is providing to commuters particularly in the Klang Valley area.
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In order to determine the considerable strategies to alleviate the declining quality of service that train commuters are experiencing in Klang Valley, it is imperative to measure the customer satisfaction of the train commuters. Measuring customer satisfaction on the other hand is important in restructuring the improvement strategies to counter the effects of obliterating service quality. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of service quality towards customer satisfaction particularly for commuters. This is because people who do not own a private vehicle depend highly on the available public mode of transport. This high reliance on public transport particularly on train transit in Klang Valley does not mean that transport administrators should neglect the need to sustain a high quality of service. The high level of dependency on mass transport should also reflect the same as level of satisfaction on the part of the commuters. For this reason, the necessity of constructing techniques in identifying the importance of service quality and assessment of customer satisfaction is imperative.
Mass transit agencies such as the three major train systems in Klang Valley have given too much attention to cutting cost, but on the expense of service quality, making it important to evaluate the balance that train companies in Klang Valley is giving on cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiency. Typically, the term cost efficiency is referred to as the services produced such as vehicle kilometers. On the other hand, the term service effectiveness is referred to as consumed services such as passenger kilometers (Figure 1). However, creating a balance between cost and service efficiency creates a certain interest towards obtaining high level of service quality taking into consideration passenger requirements and priorities (Bertini and El-Geneidy 2003).
Figure 1 Efficiency and Effectiveness indicator (Bertini and El-Geneidy 2003)
Following the model suggested by Bertini and El-Geneidy (2003), it is apparent that service quality can be evaluated in terms of functional quality and technical quality. It was mentioned earlier that among the problems that train agencies operating in Klang Valley is experiencing are capacity constraints, feeder shortage and lack of investment. Therefore, evaluating service quality towards customer satisfaction in Klang Valley train commuters can be done according to the aspects of technical quality. However, the train transport administrators cannot use technical quality as reasonable excuse to justify low service quality as not all customers can be expected to have a technical understanding of how the rain operation works. Therefore, functional quality becomes a less understood, yet a major factor in which perceptions about service quality was formed (Donabedian 1982).
By definition, service quality is a customer perception of how well the service provider meets and or exceeds customer expectations (Czepeil 1990). Customer service quality can be measured using specific indicators such as customer expectation, perception, attitude, and satisfaction (Sachdev and Verma 2004). In terms of evaluating customer satisfaction particularly on Klang Valley train commuters will require looking into the context of general railway services, policies, industry standards, and global trends with consideration to recommended platforms by global industry leaders in mass transportation. The study focuses on the underlying principles of customer satisfaction and measurement models that will help determine the level of satisfaction of Klang Valley train commuters in Malaysia. In addition, the study will also highlight the importance of service quality towards customer satisfaction when commuting. These objectives will be further expounded in the succeeding sections with utmost consideration to significant concepts and principles in service quality and customer satisfaction.
The purpose of this qualitative research is to measure the level of customer satisfaction of train commuters in Klang Valley, Malaysia in addition to establishing the importance of service quality towards customer service for train commuters. Through identification of the problem root causes such as technical and cost inefficiencies, the study would be able to create a framework for resolution on the identified problems with customer satisfaction level. The findings that will be derived from this study is aiming to reiterate the importance of service quality towards customer satisfaction of Klang Valley train commuters.
Primarily, this study focuses on the objective of determining the customer satisfaction level of Klang Valley train commuters with emphasis on the importance of service quality. The study seeks to evaluate customer perception, attitude, and recognition of the possible challenges that train operators in Klang Valley is experiencing that may be attributed to the declining quality of service. In addition, the significant contribution of this study towards service quality improvement and higher customer satisfaction can be used as point of reference for other train operators and agencies in addressing their own service quality issues.
Customer satisfaction encompasses the level of dedication that a service or product provider was able to deliver to its consumers. The significance of the study is not limited to identifying levels of customers’ satisfaction in Klang Valley train commuters, but also as an important point of reference for other train transport administrators in determining factors that contribute to service quality in public mass transport sector. The findings in this study encompasses utilization of key determinants of service quality perceived by both the commuters and the Klang Valley train service providers such as reliability, competence, responsiveness, security, communication, access, safety, and credibility that can be generalized for application by the mass transport industry.
Any form of business or industry relies on customer feedback in terms of identifying the weak areas of the business and use consumer feedbacks as variables for change and innovation. The customer satisfaction level of train commuters matters the most in managing train services operation given the competition in the public mass transportation sector. This study will utilize significant sample size and use effective quantification method for analysis. Commuter demographics is an important factor that could affect the outcome of measuring costumer satisfaction as varying customer age groups and social background have different perception of what is satisfactory and what is not. The random selection of participants for the survey ensures elimination of potential biases in the outcome and ascertains credibility of the results and findings.
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This study focuses on accomplishing the important task of measuring customer satisfaction among the train commuters in Klang Valley. Therefore, the appropriate research problem that highlights the central concept that this study is aiming to explore is “how satisfied are the train commuters in Klang Valley wit the quality of service that train administrators provide”. This problem statement highlights the sub-focus of this study, which is the elaboration of the importance of service quality towards customer satisfaction when commuting. Answers to this problem will be obtained by employing a quantitative research approach.
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