THE INFLUENCE OF SERVICE QUALITY ON CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IN THE PASSENGER TRANSPORT INDUSTRY IN CAMEROON CASE STUDY OF BUEA MUSANGO BUS SERVICE LTD.
1.1 Background to the Study
Before the coming of the colonial masters in Cameroon, there was no remarkable rout network apart from footpaths that linked small village communities. The north of Cameroon already has contact with merchants from North Africa, has a better communication system with horse that ensured the transportation of goods and pilgrims.
After this period, the German arrives and annexed Cameroon. Their presence necessitated the putting in place of good route network for the evacuation of resources. For their thirty years in place, several roads, bridges and railway lines were constructed. After the departure of the German in 1945, the British and French took over and continued developing road networks in the south. Several extensions ended up in the seaport to ensure the evacuation of goods from the hinterland to the cost.
When Cameroon gained independence, two categories of roads existed which included truck A (which link up major cities) and truck Broads. From north to south, the truck roads start with a first-line (Limbe to Nkambe) from Limbe through Kumba, Mamfe, Bamenda, Kumbo to Nkambe. From Bamenda to Nkambe it continues to Wum and back to Bamenda forming what it refers to as ring road. The second line starts from Douala to kousseri, the third line start from Douala to Yaounde. A fourth line starts from Douala and ends in Ngoundere after many bends in other towns.
Truck B roads simply originate from small communities (could be villages) and end up linking truck A road. Roads over the national territory cover over 34.000km. the communication density is still however low, there are still problems of road networks. Some become too bad and inaccessible during the rainy season. Some are too dusty during the dry season because they are untarred. Roads maintenance still poses a serious problem in Cameroon.
Several bus agencies that ensure interurban transport in Cameroon such a guarantee express, amour Mezam express, le Kribien, Jeannot express and so on. Transport with urban areas is facilitated by taxis and motorbikes a taxi drop cost over 200FCFA in Yaoundé and Douala and about 150FCFA in Bamenda, Bafoussam and other smaller town in general. In towns like Douala and Yaoundé, there are intra-urban buses that carry people various destination at cheap rates of over 100FCFA per destination
The very nature of transport makes the transport industry an ideal target for government and inter-governmental regulation. As a result, the transport industry is amongst the most highly regulated industries in the world (Mushi, 2013).
1.2 Statement of Problem
There is an increased in the level of competition between transport operators and hence reduced earnings (Mporogomi, 2001). But on the other side of the coin, there is a challenge among transport operators to seek and improve other dimensions pertaining quality of the transport service they provide in order to win customers. There is number of new companies that are formed and enter into this industry but surprisingly most of them failed to sustain in business. It is necessary to make a thorough research on how the service quality influences customer satisfaction in connection with the strategies to retain customers. Traditionally, under the competitive market environment the rival companies in an industry, transport in particular focus on adjusting the price, i.e. bus fares to lower rate (especially those enjoying cost leadership advantage) to win more market shares, increase sales and hence more profit gain. To a large extent, the bottom line indicator of performance of freight and passenger road transport is the operating cost per ton or tonne-km (or per passenger or passenger-km). Level of service aspects such as travel time, reliability, safety, comfort and security are also important, as well as environmental impact. Currently, most of the transport service providers shift into improving the service quality of their product (service) rather than relying on bus fare adjustment to improve the business performance despite the fact that the production costs will probably increase as they improve service quality. Moreover, by improving the service quality, the transport firm acquires sustainable competitive advantage over its rivals (Fimbo, 2008).
The concept of quality, efficiency, productivity, growth and survival pose a great challenge for the survival and growth of all corporate bodies. These growth and survival demands are further deepened by the need to attract and retain customers, as customers are the main focus of any successful business. Business success depends on a firm's understanding and meeting customers' needs and demands (Agyapong, 2010). The researcher sees the need to assess the influence of service quality on customer satisfaction in passenger transport service industry aiming to highlight the extent at which the bus transport operators are aware of the requirement of service quality improvement in its entire dimensions as well as their impact on the customer satisfaction and the prosperity of their transport business especially in the competitive environment. That, there is a gap between what actually passenger needs/expect as far as transport service is concerned and bus operators' perception of passenger/consumer expects. Also, there is a gap between service quality specifications and the service quality delivered by bus operators.
1.3 General objective
The main objective of the study was to assess the influence of service quality on customer satisfaction in the passenger transport industry in Cameroon case study of Musango bus service LTD.
TO assess the degree of the customers' satisfaction from the provided services.To determine the service attributes that must be improved in the future.To assess service quality dimensions in bus transport service that influence customer satisfaction.
1.4 Research Questions
General research question
How does service quality influence customer satisfaction in passenger transport industry in Cameroon?
Specific research questions
1 What is the degree of customers' satisfaction from the provided services?
2 What are services attributes that need to be improved in the future?
3 What are the service quality dimensions in bus transport service that influence customer satisfaction?
1.6 Research hypothesis
H0: Service quality has no influence on customer satisfaction in the passenger transport industry in Cameroon Case of Musango Bus Service Ltd
H1: Service quality has an influence on customer satisfaction in the passenger transport industry in Cameroon. Case of Musango Bus Service Ltd
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