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PERCEPTION OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN ASSURING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IN CALEB UNIVERSITY

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DEPARTMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATION

Abstract

This study assessed in varying forms the levels at which customer satisfaction is prioritized in the Nigerian University environment, it further ascertain the importance of public relations as a profession and filed on customer satisfaction using Caleb University as the research area. Customer satisfaction is a crucial aspect of organizational success, and public relations play a significant role in shaping and managing the institution’s image and reputation. The study employs a mixed-methods approach, combining surveys and interviews to gather data from students, faculty, and staff members at Caleb University. The research investigates various dimensions of public relations, including communication strategies, responsiveness, transparency, and trust-building efforts. By examining the perceptions of key stakeholders, the study provides insights into the effectiveness of public relations practices in ensuring customer satisfaction within the university. The findings will contribute to the understanding of the role of public relations in higher education institutions and provide valuable recommendations for enhancing customer satisfaction and strengthening the overall reputation of Caleb University. The objectives of the study were to analyze the effects of Customer satisfaction on students in Caleb University, ascertain the impact of public relations on customer satisfaction in Caleb University and further determine the level at which customer satisfaction is prioritized in the Nigerian University. The study therefore recommends organizations like Universities to prioritize customer satisfaction through the best means which is public relations.

Chapter One

Introduction

  1.      Background to the Study

Public relations (PR) plays a crucial role in managing the image, reputation, and communication of an organization with its stakeholders. In the context of educational institutions like Caleb University, public relations efforts are essential for establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with various stakeholders, including students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and the wider community. One of the primary goals of PR in this setting is to ensure customer satisfaction, particularly among students who are the primary customers of the university. Customer satisfaction in Caleb University, as perceived through the lens of public relations, involves creating and maintaining positive perceptions and experiences among students. The concept of “Customer Satisfaction” has become a vital model in businesses and media. Customer satisfaction is characterized as an estimation that shows how glad customers are with an organization’s items, administrations, and capacities. Consumer satisfaction data, including studies and appraisals, can help an organization with deciding how to best improve its items and administrations.

        Marta (2021) explained Customer satisfaction as a measure of how well a company’s products or services meet customer expectations. This is one of the most important indicators of purchase intent and customer loyalty. Therefore, it helps to predict business growth and sales. The above definition looks very simple, but in reality, it is not so easy to define what “happy customers” really mean to your company. Corporate financial institutes (CFI 2021) defined customer satisfaction as “the degree to which a company’s products and services meet customer expectations”. In other words, customer satisfaction is the level of customer happiness and willingness to get the same service from a business firm after dealing with a company. Customer satisfaction measures not only customer satisfaction with a transaction with a company but also the overall experience with the company. It is worthy of note that there is no scientific measurement for customer satisfaction, instead it is determined when customers patronize the same services over and over for a long time.  Zakari (2021) opined that no organization will be successful in business or in interpersonal relationships except it takes into cognizance the impact of its customers and their level of satisfaction towards the goods or services rendered. Team Wizikey (2019) defined Public relation as all about the way an organization communicate with the public, advocate itself, and construct a positive reputation overall varying period of time. The way an organization is portrayed in the media has a major impact on how people perceive it. PR experts try to influence the media, actively represent the organization, and convey important messages. According to Caroline (2021), Public relations also known by its acronym PR refers to the strategic communication from an organization to the general public to maintain or cultivate public image and/or respond to public discourse. An organization’s fundamental aim should be to fulfil the needs of its customers.

     Anita (2020) defined public relations as “the art of crafting and delivering messages that keep users informed and persuade the public to aid the course of the organization, thereby getting people to change opinions or take action that favours one organization ahead of the other”. Public relations are often used to promote or promote a company. A typical public relations campaign may focus on featuring the company on television or radio or appearing in newspapers, websites, magazines, or blogs.  Aashish (2021) defined Public relations as a strategic or resonance communication process in that company, individuals, and organizations are related or not related to business users to build mutually cohesive relationships with the public. Aashish (2021) further illustrated that public image accounts for 63% of the value of most businesses. An accident or damage to a company’s reputation affects the entire portfolio of the company and its affiliates. It takes about 4-7 years to overcome a negative reputation. Therefore, it is important for businesses to invest in good public relations strategies in order to maintain a beneficial relationship with the general public.

Latif, Bunce and Ahmad (2021) highlighted that Student satisfaction is important if universities are to stay in business by recruiting and retaining satisfied students who provide positive evaluations of their university to others. In Higher institutions, customer satisfaction is synonymous with student satisfaction over a certain course of business-related activities. Student satisfaction is a short-term attitude, resulting from an evaluation of a student’s educational experiences. It is further defined as the positive antecedent of student loyalty and is the result and outcome of an educational system that is suitable for students. Mukhtar et Al (2015), Student satisfaction as a function of the relative level of experiences and perceived performance about educational service during the study period. In order for any organization to achieve the goal of customer satisfaction, the firm must seek to integrate the opinions of its customers into its further line of action.  Gong (2018) explained that the impact of public relations in assuring customer satisfaction cannot be shortly overlooked.  Public relations clearly integrate a wider range of customer satisfaction when rightly used or influenced by an organization

Public relations does not improve customer satisfaction directly, it brings the complaint of customers into account worthy of note and relays them to the company, it as well informs the public of the efforts and actions that the company or organization is taking to improve its services and products. 

   Public relations helps in building customers’ trust in society through verifying a product, service or organization with a 3rd party, Some good well know personalities in society choose to advertise the products of business firms so that the product and its benefit are well-known in the society they are. They are paid for this act in return, they are often regarded as third parties pushing businesses forward.  For example, while quoted in a news article, Customers may be assured and satisfied that an organization’s product and services are absolutely dependable and feature all of the capabilities that satisfy them. Public relations also consider the enterprise’s credibility with its customers which helps build standard public confidence.

Here are some key points regarding the perception of public relations in assuring customer satisfaction in Caleb University:

Communication: Effective communication is at the heart of public relations. Caleb University’s PR department plays a vital role in disseminating accurate and timely information to students and other stakeholders. This includes sharing information about university policies, programs, events, changes, and achievements. Clear and transparent communication helps students feel informed and engaged, contributing to their overall satisfaction.

Branding and Image: Public relations professionals work to shape and maintain the university’s brand and image. They develop strategies to highlight the institution’s strengths, values, and unique selling propositions. By presenting a positive and consistent image, PR efforts help build trust and confidence among students, which can contribute to their satisfaction.

Crisis Management: Public relations plays a critical role in handling crises and managing reputational risks. In times of emergencies, conflicts, or controversies, the PR department at Caleb University should have effective crisis communication strategies in place to address concerns promptly, maintain transparency, and rebuild trust. Efficient crisis management can mitigate negative perceptions and maintain customer satisfaction.

Engagement and Feedback: Public relations professionals aim to engage students actively and encourage their feedback. This can be achieved through various channels such as social media, surveys, focus groups, and events. By listening to students’ concerns, suggestions, and opinions, PR practitioners can identify areas for improvement and take proactive measures to enhance customer satisfaction.

Community Relations: Caleb University exists within a larger community, and its reputation within that community can impact student satisfaction. Public relations efforts should focus on fostering positive relationships with the local community, including collaborations, volunteer programs, and community outreach initiatives. Such endeavours can enhance the university’s reputation and contribute to a more favourable perception among students. The perception of public relations in assuring customer satisfaction in Caleb University revolves around effective communication, branding, crisis management, engagement and feedback, community relations, and alumni relations. By employing strategic PR practices, the university can cultivate a positive image, address concerns, involve students, and foster a sense of satisfaction and loyalty among its customers.

Caleb University

Caleb University, Imota, Lagos was given a provisional license by the Federal Government of Nigeria to operate as a private University on May 17, 2007. The Proprietor of the University is Caleb International College Ltd with Dr. Ola Adebogun as the Chairman and Visitor of the University. The University commenced full academic activities on January 21, 2008, with admission into three Colleges — College of Environmental Sciences and Management (COLENSMA), College of Pure and Applied Sciences (COPAS), and College of Social and Management Sciences (COSOMAS).

1.2       Statement of the problem

The study investigated the problems related to the concepts of Public relations and Customer satisfaction within Caleb University, the problem of this study is in ascertaining the effectiveness of public relations on customer satisfaction. Lebans & Euske (2016) after concluding research using the Nigeria Brewery reached a noteworthy consensus that the management of many organizations [and universities inclusive] do not recognize or value public relations services as being vital in Nigeria. This is also highlighted in the usage of social media platforms as means of disseminating information by the Government. The research work further examines the role of public relations in improving customer satisfaction in Nigerian Universities using Caleb University as a case study.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this research is to analyze the use of public relations in assuring customer satisfaction in a Nigerian university while the specific objectives of this research work are to examine critically the following:

  • Analyze the effects of Customer satisfaction on students in Caleb University
  • Ascertain the impact of public relations on customer satisfaction in Caleb University
  • Determine the level at which customer satisfaction is prioritized in the Nigerian University.

1.4       Research Questions

This study seeks to proffer answers to the following questions:

  • How does customer satisfaction impact the overall experience of students in Caleb University?
  • How does public relations impact customer satisfaction in Caleb University?
  • How do Nigerian universities, including Caleb University, prioritize and address customer satisfaction as a strategic goal??

1.5       Research Hypothesis

       Most importantly, this research work will further test the societal hypothesis that owns that public relation services does not necessarily influence customer satisfaction, in related cores of customer satisfaction, businesses and mass media are a key area of interest because of the wide range of audience that are steadily available. The purpose of this research hypothesis is to give a scientific account of all answers provided during the course of this research. The research hypothesis includes:

  • (H₀): There is no significant relationship between the perception of public relations and customer satisfaction in Caleb University.
  • (H₁): The perception of public relations significantly influences customer satisfaction in Caleb University.

1.6       Significance of the Study

At the end of this study, the following group of people or individuals will benefit greatly from the result of this research. Amongst many other beneficiaries of this research is Caleb University herself. This research work will point out areas where the university needs to improve its Public relations systems to actualize further future growth. Various sectors and businesses in society will understand the benefits of public relations through the result of the findings and how they can use public relations to gain customer satisfaction, thereby maintaining existing customers and gaining new customers. Future researchers and students that will like to research in related fields to Public Relations and customer satisfaction will have this research work as a source of first-hand information to work with. The impact of this research is generally without a limit because it is applicable and usable for all companies that are into business and services. Hence, this research work will serve as a hub for other key future findings in related fields.

1.7       Scope of the Study

With Caleb University as the case study of this research work, this research work is limited to Caleb University and its data will be used to generalize answers for other Universities in Nigeria. The actual reason for the limited scope of this research is that it is practically impossible to visit all Universities in Nigeria for the attainment of bachelor’s degree. The scope of this research is hereby limited to Caleb University because of Financial and time constraints.

1.8       Limitations of the Study

Studying the perception of public relations in assuring customer satisfaction in Caleb University may have some limitations. Here are a few potential limitations to consider for the purpose of this research work:

Sample size and representativeness: The study may face limitations in terms of the sample size and its representativeness. If the sample size is small or not diverse enough, the findings may not be generalizable to the larger population. It is important to ensure that the sample adequately represents the target population to draw meaningful conclusions.

Response bias: Participants’ responses in surveys or interviews may be influenced by response bias. They may provide socially desirable answers or not express their true opinions, which can affect the accuracy of the findings. Researchers should employ techniques to minimize response bias, such as ensuring anonymity and confidentiality.

Single-institution focus: Limiting the study to Caleb University may restrict the generalizability of the findings. Public relations practices and customer satisfaction may vary across different universities or industries. The findings may not apply to other contexts, so caution should be exercised when applying the results to different organizations or settings.

External factors: The perception of public relations and customer satisfaction can be influenced by various external factors beyond the control of the researchers or the institution. Factors such as economic conditions, competition, or broader societal trends may impact the participants’ perceptions, and these factors may not be captured or controlled for in the study.

Time constraints: Conducting a comprehensive study on the perception of public relations and customer satisfaction may be limited by time constraints. Gathering data, analyzing it, and drawing meaningful conclusions require a substantial investment of time and resources. Researchers should consider the limitations imposed by time and adjust the scope of the study accordingly.

To mitigate these limitations, the researcher will adopt various strategies such as ensuring a representative sample, employing multiple data collection methods, controlling for external variables, and acknowledging the study’s limitations in the research report.

1.9       Operational definition of terms

  • Public Relations: Public relations is a simplified communication channel from an organization to the general public to maintain a public image and/or respond to public discourse
  • Customer satisfaction: Customer satisfaction is a measure of how well a company’s products or services meet customer expectations. Customer satisfaction is measured by the level of happiness derived after using a service and the willingness to use the same service again
  • Customer: A customer is one that purchases a commodity. It is also defined as a person buying goods or services from an organization with payment in return.
  • Satisfaction: satisfaction is a feeling of Fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs or attainment of one’s pleasure.
  • Caleb University: A private educational institution located at Ikorodu Imota, Lagos.

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