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Customer service in management education

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Ensuring Customer Delight: A quality approach to excellence in management education.

The system of Higher Education in India is on the threshold of change. During the last decade Higher Education experienced immense student diversity not only in terms of profiles such as increased age but also in terms of backgrounds with reference to social and economic aspects. Management education being a part of higher education is no exception.

The market for management education increased in terms of a number of the growing private institutes which has started offering postgraduate programmes of management education. This is of course, a paradigm shift from the traditional University system which had dominated the earlier higher education market.

Management Education in the 21st Century:

Institutions survive to achieve their goals by offering value exchanges. For this it is imperative to study the target market, it's needs, followed by designing appropriate products, programs and services to cater to the changing demands of the customers.

Higher Education especially institutions offering management education in the 21st century have to make themselves flexible enough to meet the changing needs of the market. Certain improved features of the modern day management education system includes a broad based futuristic education system which is simple and easy to access. Backed up with information technology support modern management education system lays more emphasis on development of insight and knowledge. Knowledge is again defined in terms of the need and utility of study keeping in view the requirements of the job market.

Therefore the goals of higher education had changed. The universities in the developing nations have started to face population explosion, rapid advancement in the technology arena which had created a drive for expansion of knowledge. Reshaping of responsibilities of the teaching staffs is another challenging area for the higher education service imparting management education.

The demands of the modern management education can be viewed from two aspects: a. The existing status. b. The future ( predictable ) changes .

The existing status is that of transformation and flux, towards a consumer oriented image. This transition phase as rightly predicted by the eminent academician P.Khandawala which is reflected in his following statement: " Only the learning organization can cater to today's dramatic demands quickly ". The future change will be towards complete customer satisfaction without which higher education market will cease to exist, in the presence of monopolistic public education system.

Customer Satisfaction:

Customer satisfaction in higher education is a function of perceived performance and expectations from consumers i.e. students. The level of satisfaction is measured by how closely a defined course curriculum meets the need of an individual student in terms of his / her expectations. High satisfaction or delight creates an emotional bond with the brand and not just a rational preference. This results in a huge amount of customer loyalty in higher education.

As experienced with the expansion of the higher education sector there has been rising demands for improved quality increasingly focused by the consumerism factor. This is validated by the growth of effective student feedback systems which have already started to dominate the Indian higher education market. The term " FEEDBACK " refers to the expressed opinions of students' about the service they receive as students'. Feedback is of course based on their perceptions on the process of learning and teaching . Other variables which strongly influence the level of students' satisfaction includes learning support facilities, the learning environment, other support facilities and external aspects of being a student.

The need for such feedback systems are imperative in order to obtain an effective quality monitoring and assessment process which in turn provides better satisfaction to consumers.

Another factor that is associated with the level of students' satisfaction is the realization of expectations in terms of the value of the service that they pay. If the service outcome meets or supersedes their expectation they are satisfied or delighted with the delivery system. If the outcome falls below the expectation levels, disconfirmation of expectations tend to occur. Thus in order to measure satisfaction certain effective methodologies need to be designed which ensures the level of tailored services which is suited towards individual' and market needs.

The Indian Management education scenario:

Management education being an integrated part of postgraduate education in India enjoys a steady demand for several reasons:

1. There are a large number of graduates coming out of colleges and the job market being competitive it is very difficult for them to be placed in suitable jobs. Therefore there is a huge demand for postgraduate education as such. 2. The work culture in India had changed over the past decade. There has been an inflow of top Multinational companies due to the liberalized policy of the Indian Government and these companies express a keen interest in recruiting Indian students with postgraduate management degrees. 3. Several organizations including Indian organizations emphasize on postgraduate management degree as an entry level qualification. This is done to ensure better availability of candidates with improved skills and knowledge in competition to candidates with ordinary skills and qualifications. 4. Increasing number of students have started to consider a career in management studies as they believe management qualifications improve on their communication skills and leadership abilities which in turn makes them a better team performer thus enhancing their employability.

In order to cater to the demands of such a market an efficient feedback driven interaction between management schools and industry has to be established through an effective accreditation and assessment process. This responsibility has been undertaken by University Grants Commission through setting up of NAAC ( National Assessment & Accreditation Council ) as a model of assessment and accreditation in 1994. The objective of such apex bodies include grading the quality of educational services in different management schools in addition to help them realizing their academic objectives through innovation of their services. The methodology of such apex bodies include the following:

a. SWOT analysis of all the affiliated colleges b. Implementation of quality sustenance activities in accredited colleges c. Self study , assessment and accreditation of colleges d. Remedial measures in the case of weak and less privileged institutions.

Similar to the operations of NAAC another such apex body called National Board of accreditation ( NBA ) has been constituted by All India Council for Technical Education which is to periodically evaluate technical institutions based on their guidelines, norms and standards, specified.

The total number of accredited colleges which has already been approved by either NAAC or NBA is still very small in comparison to the total number of business schools in India. Although the method of assessment vary ( NAAC considers micro assessment while NBA considers micro assessment ) in order to get better results it is advisable that both the processes are considered.

In spite of such a assessment system the mushrooming of too many business schools in India has failed to keep up with Industry expectations. In order to meet the expectations of the industry management education in India should address the following issues:

1. Is management education designed to be relevant in terms of the industry requirements. 2. Do the training institutions provide necessary inputs so as to make an effective contribution towards management education or they are unaware of expectations made from them. In order to cater to the above issues, it is imperative that the higher education industry gears up towards a better quality of service which includes all aspects such as teaching methodology, delivery strategy, accessibility, simplicity and above all affordability.

In order to understand effective strategies for such implementations most of the business schools in India needs to undertake employee satisfaction surveys.

Methodology of employee satisfaction surveys:

In order to obtain complete information on customer satisfaction the most common methods adopted includes variable descriptive and cross sectional research methodology .

But for studying the customer satisfaction in management education the sampling frame very often consist of colleges affiliated to University Grants Commission, Foreign Universities, as well as other private colleges. The number of colleges has been selected using a probability sampling technique under which respondents were selected randomly by means of simple random sampling methodology.

In addition to designing of appropriate questionnaires , the survey was responded by numerous opinions, personal experiences, views and recommendations in order to improve the overall management education system.


A survey conducted on Indian Management education system on 50 colleges ( both public & Private ) revealed the following status:

Figure 1: Comparison of Importance and Satisfaction:

Factors Satisfaction Importance Z Scores Mean SD Mean SD Course Organization 4.06 1.42 5.58 1.34 4.9 Learning & Teaching 4.54 1.57 5.92 1.09 4.5 Placement facilities 3.74 1.71 5.99 1.15 6.9 Computing 3.83 1.56 5.65 1.25 5.7 Library 3.93 1.74 5.69 1.23 5.2 Student Services 3.25 1.43 5.31 1.39 6.5 Source: Ensuring customer delight: A quality approach to excellence in management education by Sapna Popli The above mentioned parameters reveal that considering all the above the level of average satisfaction varies between 3 to 4.

The ratings of importance on the other hand varies between 5 & 6. Therefore it is concluded that Management education in India, as a whole has a lot of significance considering the above parameters. These priority areas has to be measured in terms of value delivery within a fixed time framework.

In order to emphasize on the first parameter i.e. Course organization the following points should be considered the foremost:

a. The course should be defined in terms of focus on analytical skills b. The courses being offered should have more practical / project orientation and should consider interaction with industry interface. c. There should be more stress on personality development. d. Not only academic excellence but also overall development of students should be emphasized. e. Such courses need to be defined in terms of extra curricular and cross cultural experiences. f. Tailor made training schedules should form an integrated part of such course curriculum.

In addition to the above , certain common broadbased methodologies has to be followed while training the students' which includes:

a. Core concepts on organizational KRA's ( Key Result Areas ) and basic strategies followed in those functional areas. b. Overall study of organizational behaviour and interpersonal communications c. Study related to general administrative guidelines under uncertain conditions and overall policy formulation in an organized structure.

As seen in most of the cases such inputs have significantly enhanced the quality of education especially in postgraduate management education enabling the students' to get exposed to multifaceted arenas of a business.

These strategies coupled with the industry interface will definitely put Indian Management education on a strong foothold in terms of both quality and customer satisfaction..

About the author:

Keka Lahiri is an MBA Graduate from the University of Calcutta and is presently attached as a Consulting Editor in ICFAI Business School Research Centre. Besides having an industry experience of 11 years she also has experience in teaching and research. Research areas include higher education, tourism, healthcare and related topics. She is pursuing her doctoral programme under Dr. Dinabandhu Mukherjee, Professor Management Division, University of Calcutta

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