PUBLIC RELATIONS AS A TOOL FOR ENHANCING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, A CASE STUDY OF UBA, IKOT EKPENE
1.1 Background of the Study
Satisfaction of consumers remains the priority of organizations that wants to remain and also grow in business. When consumers are not satisfied with the products and services offered by organizations and with the way they offer them, they become discouraged to continue with the business transactions. Customers wants to be treated rightly and that is why an effective public relations management is key to keeping consumers satisfied and also to attract more consumers.
According to Sietel (2007), public relations is a planned process to influence public opinion, through sound character and proper performance, based on mutually satisfactory two-way communication. Jefkins (1998), sees public relations as consisting of all forms of planned communication, be it internally between an organization and its publics for the purpose of achieving specific objectives concerning mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence.
In the public sector much of the Public Relations (PR) related activities are concerned with the satisfaction of customers. In the case of the public sector, poor customer satisfaction does not enhance the organization’s image. PR has a broader role to play by having to satisfy the needs of different and sometimes conflicting interests of consumers and boosting the image of the organization. Organizations practice public relations because how others outside the organization perceive it and its operations is very important. Public Relations require listening to the needs of the clients the organization serves as well as analyzing and understanding the attitude and behaviour of its consumers. Its main aim is to create, maintain and protect the organization’s reputation, enhance the prestige, and present favorable image to the public.
Levary and Mathieu (2000) suggests that organizational public rating is determined by an organization’s ability to attract new customers and retain existing customers; customer total satisfaction with the service provision experience affects organization’s ability to attract new customers and retain existing customers. Krampf (2003) states that customer satisfaction is a key
to a firm’s survival in today’s marketplace.
The problem with many organizations is that they do not take the issue of customer satisfaction seriously and consequently, this impacts negatively on their growth and productivity. Low patronage negatively affects the income of the organization and also reduces their growth. When the needs of the consumers are not considered in the production process or in the delivery of services, it discourages them to continue patronizing the organization. It is therefore imperative that the products and services are developed and offered in a way that the consumers will be happy and satisfied.
Product development, technological improvement, cost optimization and excellent service delivery are very important for any organization but their importance is only if the customer appreciates it. For example, both diamond and coal are carbon but they are priced differently due to different valuations by the customer. Therefore, any business begins and ends with the customer (Sugandhi, 2002). Thus, service organizations are shifting their focus from “transactional exchange” to “relational exchange” for developing mutually satisfying relationship with customers. Extended relationships are reported to have a significant impact on
transaction cost and profitability, and customer lifetime value. Serving the customers, in true sense, is the need of the hour as the customer was, is and will remain the central focus of all organizational activities.
To achieve customer satisfaction, an organization should endeavor to integrate the interest of its customers in its PR policy so as to give them a sense of belonging. Consumers are interested in what an organization is doing to meet their concerns and how well they relate with them. Public Relations therefore remain a very important tool to enhance the satisfaction of the varied customers or consumers of the goods and services of organizations.
This study therefore seeks to reveal the role of public relations as a tool for enhancing customer satisfaction.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The good image of any organization is determined by the level of satisfaction its publics or customers receive from the services it offers. Most banks have been associated with negative reports like scandals of mismanagement of public funds, nepotism in employment poor customer relationship management and poor services.
Sometimes, the public relations units of these organizations are not effective in ensuring there is mutual understanding between them and the public. Customer dissatisfaction remains a set back as it contributes to low patronage.
The absence of a cordial relationship between an institution and its clients is worsened when the institution refuses to place satisfaction of customers needs at the fore-front of its objectives.
It is in view of this critical role that public relations plays in customer satisfaction that necessitated this study in order to address the problems of low level of customer satisfaction, bad organizational image, and poor customer relationship management. The question therefore is, how can public relations be used as a tool to enhance customer satisfaction.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The objectives of the study are:
- To ascertain the extent UBA Ikot Ekpene engaged PR tools in enhancing satisfaction of customers.
- To find out the public relations strategies for satisfaction of customers in UBA bank, Ikot Ekpene.
To determine the extent to which