ASSIGNMENT 2: REVIEW THESIS1) What is the research problem, howit is chosen and motivated. How well it is defined?Theproblem of the research has been stated out from the beginning of the thesis,in a clearly and transparent way:” How can Oppilastalo Ltd improve customerservice with its current and future foreign and Finnish customers?” Oppilastalois the operating student housing company in Lahti region. The company wasestablished in Lahti on 11th of September 1969 in Lahti by thevocational institutes’ student associations. The vision of the company is tobuild, administer, and lease student and lease housing for competitive price inLahti region and to fulfil the requirements concerning quality, location andnumber of housing set by student and educational establishments. The companypractices building, management, administration- and maintenance activities ofreal estate and buildings. (Oppilastalo 2015.
)Thetopic and problem of this thesis is “Improving the effectiveness of customerservice- case: Oppilastalo Ltd”. The author chose this thesis topic when shewas working for Oppilastalo Ltd during summer 2013 and 2014. She alsointerested in real estate since she worked for this company. This topic hasbeen accepted by the CEO of Oppilastalo Ltd, the CEO showed interest to thetopic and the company wanted to stay connected through this thesis project.
Theauthor understands the demand of housing in Lahti for student who exchange orstudy abroad, the author has provided many statistics, number and graph to showthe need of housing in Lahti region as well as the number of students come toLahti every year. Especially, the writer focus on the Lahti University ofApplied Sciences (Lahti UAS) to be the main target of the customer services ofOppilastalo. It means that it is easier and more accurate to interview or tocollect data information from those students who actually experience theservices of the company. Theauthor chose Oppilastalo even though there are also other private house companyis because normally the private renters will want to make the housing contractfor at least one year. However, students have a time limit that for example,exchange student that from another country just move to Finland to stay forshort term (about 6 months), they cannot make a house contract for one year.
Student housing company is more focus on student and their living. Therefore,when student making the contract to Oppilastalo, when student wants toterminate the house contract, they just need to inform the company before onemonth and they can move out the next month. It will be more flexible and easierfor student than a private renting company with a long-term contract. AlthoughOppilastalo has the competitive advantage that it is the only student housing companyin Lahti region, but the author realized that it is important to a company todevelop their activities, she understands the customer need for more customerservices so she chose this topic to research. Theproblem is well defined because the author stated out the research objectives,goal. All the questions and limitations is also be carried out. 2) How are the research goals defined? Theresearch was made for the Oppilastalo’s foreign customers and also for Finnishcustomers. The thesis goal is to understand the different customer targets andthe effectiveness of customer service in the oppilastalo office to make theliving for both foreign and Finnish tenants become more pleasant, satisfied andcomfortable.
The final output result of the research is to offer the companyadvices and suggestions of how to improve and provide more effective servicefor the customers. The authordivided the main question “How can Oppilastalo Ltd improve customer servicewith its current and future foreign and Finnish customers?” into manysub-questions to help to answer the main question. Thesub-questions are the following:1. What iseffective customer service?2. What do foreigncustomers expect from their student apartment/student apartment staff?3. What do Finnishcustomers expect from their student apartment/student apartment staff?4. What areforeign customers satisfied with, what more could be included and what are themain improvement wanted?5.
What areFinnish customers satisfied with , what more could be included and what are themain improvements wanted?Theauthor showed the limitation of this research is the limited region area, thestudy is only cover in Lahti region. The research is focus on student but noteveryone else in the renting apartment. The research data is collected based onthe students of Lahti UAS and Lahti’s student housing. It also based onOppilastalo Ltd, it means that it is not only based on the facts from otherrenting companies.
3) What are the basic term andconcept? How well they are defined? The authoruse the SOSTAC Planning System is created by PR Smith. Which is stand forSituation analysis, Objective, Strategy, Tactics, Actions, Control. SOSTAC canbe used in marketing planning, marketing communication planning or boarderbusiness planning. (Smith 2016.
) Researchapproaches include the inductive approach and deductive approach. In deductive,the study begins with the general knowledge and then moves to the detailedinformation, from general to specific. The inductive study starts with thetopic first and then developing into a more general theory at the end of theresearch. (Myers 2013, 23.) The authoralso present two types of the research method are quantitative and qualitative.
The qualitative research is often inductive and it describes people’s particularsituations and it is flexible. The quantitative research is more deductive. Thequantitative research involves statistical analysis in contrast to thequalitative research involves, for example, texts, images, and data collectionfrom interviews. (Frankel & Devers 2000.) Qualitativeresearch methods were developed originally to study nature phenomena, whenqualitative research methods were developed to study social and culturalphenomena. (Myers 2013, 7-8).
The mixbetween quantitative and qualitative research is called mixed methods and it isthe third approach to research. The mixed method includes gathering bothnumerical information and text information, and the final databasecharacterizes both quantitative and qualitative information. (Creswell 2003,18-20.
) Datacollection are from primary data and secondary data. Primary data means theoriginal data collected for a specific research goal. Secondary data meansmaterial created by other researcher, which is available for reuse by generalresearch community. (Hox & Boeije 2005, 593.) The authoralso used Porter’s five forces model, which is include threat of new entrants,threat of substitute products or services, bargaining power of customers,bargaining power of suppliers and intensity of competitive rivalry. This modeluse to define the current market situation. SWOT analysis is used in theresearch to show the company evaluation of their own strength, weaknesses,opportunities, threats to keep up with the changing environments. Other basicconcepts have been carried out are current market, objective, strategy,segmenting, targeting, positioning, tactics, actions, control.
These concepsare being well defined by stating out the theories from books, author also usegraph and pictures to show example and explain it for reader to keep up andunderstand easily, she also shows the way to obtain each of the concept. Forexample, in the Objective concept, the author informed us about the basicconcept, then she point out many types of objectives and finally she showed theway to make an objective, by follow S.M.
A.R.T goal method (which is stand forspecific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based).
Anotherimportant key concept of this study is “Customer service”. “Customer” is anyonewith whom we exchange value. For example, when we exchange money for a serviceor product, we are customers. (Timm 2007, 3.) The writerused very simple term to describe the concept of customer service- which makereader easier to remember.
Customer service is “Attention, Smile, Enthusiasm,response, understanding, patience, remembering details, facts, giving, action”and Customer service is not “Neglect, bored looks, dullness, indifference,closed mind, irritation, forgetting details, arguments, receiving or delay”.She also stated out the official concept of Customer Service : Is the act oftaking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional,helpful, high quality service and assistance, before, during and after thecustomers’ requirements are met. Customer service is meeting the need anddesires of any customer. (Business Dictionary 2016.) 4) What is the research approach andmethods? How the data is collected? In thisresearch, the author adopted the deductive approach and the qualitative methodis used in the study. The data is collected from primary and secondary sourcesuch as interviews, questionnaires, academic books and e-sources.
Most ofthe data for this thesis was collected by interviews. The author interviewcustomers of the company who are exchange students, foreign degree students andFinnish degree students. The interview includes on phone interview, two groupinterviews, two mail inquires and four face-to-face interviews. Sum up thereare nine interviews were conducted. The phone interview was done with theassistant of international affair. Group interviews including exchange studentand with company’s employees also. Email inquiry was sent to a foreign customerand the other to a Finnish customer.
One of the face-to-face interviews wasconducted with a foreign customer and the rest were done with Finnishcustomers. The authorconducted a meeting with the CEO and the leasing manager. The interview withthe leasing manager was a face-to-face interview at the company’s office. Theinterview for the employees of the company was also a face-to-face andrecorded. It was a group interview with three employees. The list of thequestion was sent before handed to the employees. Both of the interviews lastfor an hour.
The authoralso makes the interview to the secretary of the international relations (byphone), the aim is to make a better understanding from the school side and howthey work with the exchange student and with the housing company. The datainformation is collected from the desk research, design interviews, goingthrough feedback forms, data analysis and show the results. The authorinterviews different group of people to understand more about the currentsituation, to know about changes has been made and what is coming up in thecompany. The interview to customers show what the customers want the company toimprove or install in the house or in the customer service. 5) How well the data is analysed? Arethe conclusions logical and do they base on the data collected? Asmentioned above, the author had conducted many interviews and email feedbackalso to collect data for the study. And she analysed data through every singleinterview.
First is the company interview analysis, from this the author foundout that during summer 2015, Oppilastalo has a change of ownership and now theyare a part of Lahden Talot Company. Due to this change, many student houses areunder renovation. A new intranet is designed and it will be put into used afterbeing tested. The intranet called “Nettikoti” and it will make thecommunication between the company and customers much easier than it is now.From the customers interview analysis,the result is that student want the company to install more laundry machines,more available times for sauna, the heating problem, student want to havecoffee machine, microwave, darker curtains, … the most common reason forstudent to choose Oppilastalo is because it has good reputation and the pricesare good compared to other rental companies.
The customer service is not alwayssatisfying, there is some dissatisfies about the heating system inside thehouse, it very cold in the winter even inside the house. The students prefersmall studio apartments located near to the school or to the centre. Finnishcustomers is likely to be more satisfied with the services of Oppilastalo thanthe foreigner customers due to many differences in cultural. For theinterview of the secretary of international affairs interview analysis, theauthor found out how Lahti UAS take actions to help students to connect withthe house company. Lahti UAS arranged an orientation day for the exchangestudents and for the foreign degree students too. TheFeedback form analysis showed that some foreign customers complained about themaintenance man’s language skills and some said that the service was reallyfriendly and fast. Afteranalysed all the data collected, the author went to the conclusion and answeredthe research question “How can Oppilastalo Ltd improve customer service withits current and future foreign and Finnish customers?” by answered first thesub-questions.
First isthe question “What is effective customer service?” and the author has showedthe basic concept and the important of the customer services. Patience, smiles,attention, and appearance are some key elements to good customer service. Secondquestion is “What do foreign customers expect from their studentapartment/student apartment staff?” In this question the author found out thatcustomers are expected to be treated with respect, fairness and friendlygestures.
Working Internet is also very important. Finland is very cold inwinter so the company has to work on the heating system. Thirdquestion is “What do Finnish customers expect from their studentapartment/student apartment staff?” it showed that they expect the same valuewith foreign customers but the Finnish customers understand that communicationcan feel impolite for the foreign customers as the Finnish customers see it asnormal communication.
Finnish customers expect the student apartment to beclean, quiet, and it has to have low rental price. The internet connection isexpected to be fast and working all the time. The fourthquestion is “What are foreign customers satisfied with, what more could beincluded and what are the main improvements wanted?” For this question, theauthor’ data analysis has stated out that the exchange students are satisfiedwith the furniturein the student house. They expect to add things such as coffee machine,microwave and darker curtains, vacuum cleaner to the room as mentioned above.
In general, customers were satisfied with the customer service but the writtencommunication got negative feedback. Finally,the last sub-question is “What are Finnish customers satisfied with, what morecould be included and what are the main improvement wanted?”. For thisquestion, it was said that the price is the main reason why they choseOppilastalo Ltd instead of the private renters in Lahti. They hope that therewill be more apartment building that locate in the centre or near the centre.The Finnish customers were satisfied with the customer service and there wereno negative feedback or comments appeared. For thefinal main question, the author used SWOT analysis and Porter’s Five ForcesModel to analyse the situation of the company. After the data analysis, ingeneral, it can be seen that most of the customers are satisfied with thecustomer service of the company and the Finnish customers is more satisfiedthan the foreign customers. The company should focus on improving thecommunication with the foreign customers.
The written information should begiven as clearly as possible and briefly. And it is even better if they canarrange a face-to-face meeting to present information about the housing issues. Theconclusion is logical and they do based on the data collected of the research. 6) How are the reliability andvalidity dealt in the thesis? The authorstated out the purpose of the study was to find out the answer for the researchquestion.
The secondary data for the theoretical part was gathered fromliterature, such as academic book and e-sources. The primary data was collectedby interviewing and analysing feedback form from customers and also throughauthor’s observations. Based on these facts, the research is valid andreliable. 7) What is the contribution of theresearch result and for whom? The studyis focus on the customer service and through the interviews, the result showedthat new apartment buildings are wanted from the customers and from thecompany’s side. Further research should be conducted to find out what kind ofapartment is needed to be built more. Studio apartment is most wanted among thestudents.
Internet is the crucial factor that should be focus on and alwaysavailable in the student apartment. This result helps the company to understandmore about weakness in customer service, what it has to improve and focus moreon. It also gives advises to Oppilastalo Ltd about what should be done todevelop and gain more customer loyalty to capture and create more customervalues. On the other hand, it also an opportunity for customers, especiallystudents in Lahti has a chance to tell the company what they want and they willtruly be listened to. Therefore, this study help both company and customers inthe win-win way, which bring benefits to both sides. 8) How is the thesis likes from theview point of a reader? Do the abstract, introduction and conclusion includeall what is necessary? From the viewof reader, thesis is clear and transparent. At the beginning, the researchincluded the brief summary, the table of content and the structure to helpreaders to read easier. The research follows the academic thesis format, allthe abstract, introduction and conclusion provide all the necessaryinformation.
In the introduction part, the author stated out the researchproblem, and how to approach to answer all of them. It also showed what are thethesis objectives, limitations, the theoretical framework, the researchmethodology and how the data are collected. She also informed readers aboutwhat research methods, , research approaches she will use in the report so thatreaders will have a clear view of the direction of the research. At the end ofthe research, the author again emphasized all the main important information,and stated out the research results by answering all the sub-questions and thenanswer the main question. This make readers understand about the result, howdid the author come up with it and if the result is reliable. She also gavesome suggestions for the company about what should be done to solve theresearch problem, what is the aspect that the company should improve and focuson.
The list of reference is at the end of the conclusion, which includes allthe link and the book title that the author used in the research. Thereferences are marked correctly, divided into Published references, Electricsources and Oral references (giving title, year and date of the interview) andfollows the alphabet order. By doing this, the reader will find it easier tosearch for the reference they want. 9) What are the good and bad points?How could you make it better? The firstgood point of the thesis is the author use simple words, she did not use somany academic words and that make it easier for many types of readers tounderstand ang keep up with the research. The author also uses a lot of figuresand graphs to indicate all the concept, the frame work.
By adding many figures,reader will tend to remember it better than only with words. Many titles andsub-titles are in the research. The writer has many references, she uses many informationbased on many official published books, that make the information morereliable. The author found out the answer for the problem and that is clearfrom the point of readers. However, the research will become more practical ifthe author tell more about the reaction of the company after the result isfound out and what will be the next action of the company to give an answer tothe customers. What promises can the company provide to the customers to gaintheir trust and their satisfaction. Anotherbad point that need to be improved is the number of student interviews, thereare more than just some interviews should be conducted to make sure that thedata collected are good enough to go to the conclusion.
The best way to collectdata from student is to use feedback and survey form. More information will becollected and it will be more accurate to hear from many different customers.Another good point of the author is her result is true, at least from my allpoint of view. The Oppilastalo should improve the communication between themand customers becausethere is one time that when I send many email about the house problem and theydid not answer the email after nearly one month and because of that many thingshave happened and it cause inconvenient for both me and the company.
So I didappreciate the author for this topic, she did really good job on this research. References Creswell,J. 2003. Research Design. Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed methodsapproaches. 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Frankel, R& Devers, J . 2000.
Study Design in Qualitative Research. Second edition.Education for Health. Hox, J.& Boeije, H.
2005. Data Collection, Primary vs. Secondary. Encyclopedia ofSocial Measurement, Volume 1, 593-599. Myers, M.
2013. Qualitative Research in Business & Management. 2nd Edition. London:Sage Publications. Timm, P.R.
2007. Customer service: Career success through customer loyalty. 4thEdition. Prentice Hal BusinessDictionary, 2016. Definition of customer service.
referenced 03 February2016. Available: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/customerservice.html The researchlink: Improvingthe effectiveness of customer service- Case: Oppilastalohttps://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/112061/Turunen_Mervi.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y