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    Management Research Question Hierarchy

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    "Calling Up Attendance: TeleCenter System Users Forum"

    Nashville-based TCS Management Group markets TeleCenter System software used to forecast staffing needs for reservation centers, order centers, or customer service centers. Using TeleCenter systems allows companies to have the correct number of people on duty at any hour of the day or night, thereby optimizing the delivery of good service while holding costs as low as possible. TCS has an impressive list of customers, including American Express, British Airways, Sears, Amtrak, and Citicorp.
    TCS was planning a special two-day educational event, Users Forum, for its 300 plus customers, but was unsure how many TeleCenter System users would attend. Scheduled at the Opryland Hotel, the forum would offer speakers, workshops, and presentations. While TCS would underwrite the costs associated with planning the meeting and preparing the presentations, customers would be responsible for paying a fee to attend, as well as their own hotel and travel expenses to Nashville. "Ten weeks before the forum, we weren't sure whether we would have 40 people or 140 people coming to Nashville." Shared Jim Gordon, CEO of TCS.
    While TCS had previously done most of its own customer satisfaction research, given the time frame of the need, it turned to Nashville-based Prince marketing, who promised to design, conduct, and interpret survey results within 21 days.
    Three objectives were set for the phone survey:
    1. Determine the likelihood of Users Forum attendance.
    2. Update the TCS software users database) for subsequent use in mailing quarterly newsletters, special announcements, and software updates).
    3. Measure the level of user satisfaction (with the company and its software generally, as well as regarding specific software features and issues).
    Respondents were asked to rate on a t-point scale the software's ease of use, the usefulness of software-generated reports, and satisfaction with service. They were also asked whether they would recommend the software and why/why not; whether they were aware of the Users Forum; whether their company planned to send a representative; and whether the customer needed or wanted more information on the Users Forum. Prince faxed the names and addresses of respondents indicating an interest in the Users Forum to TCS, which sent promotional materials immediately.
    Prince surveyed 315 customers; 161 users and 154 managers. Prince predicted that 115 people would attend the forum. Actual Users Forum attendance was 139.
    On customer service, 34 percent of respondents gave TCS a 7, the highest point on the rating scale. Yet respondents also offered that they wanted shorter response time and longer operating hours for telephone support staff, including Saturday access. TCS CEO Gordon said, "We have redeployed some of our people, expanding Saturday coverage, and instituted a beeper system to increase our responsiveness."
    TCS received the lowest scores on ease of use, with 60 percent of respondents giving it a 5 or higher on the 7-point scale, while 16 percent refused to answer. The research confirmed anecdotal evidence and reinforced internal initiatives to improve ease of use.
    Fully 84 percent said they would recommend the TCS system to colleagues, with 16 percent indicating they were too new to the software to form an opinion. TC plans to use this endorsement to attract new users.
    "The positive survey results created tremendous esprit de corps for the whole staff," claims Gordon. "We were able to identify these concerns ahead of our Users Forum and develop appropriate responses. All in all, the survey told us we're on the right rack - and that alone justified our investment in the research."

    1. Build the management-research question hierarchy. Discuss the communication methodology chosen. Develop the preliminary analysis plan. How would you deal with the 16 percent of the sample who were new to the software?
    2. Discuss the advantages and concerns of incorporating or closely linking marketing activities with research activities.

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    Solution Preview

    The research question hierarchy for a case of this nature would start off with addressing the dilemma that the management is presently facing. The major problem that the management of this organization was facing was the development of a methodology by which to ascertain the approximate number of individuals that would be attending a forum that was held by this company, that will be used to educate customers and potential customers, with regards to the efficacy of utilizing telecenter systems software. It is quite difficult to ascertain the actual number of individuals that will attending these events, since even though many individuals make promises that they will attend these events, a myriad of different circumstances may hinder their ability to actually be able to attend these events as promised. In addition, it is very important for this organization to get as many of its customers as possible is to attend this event, due to the fact that the information that will be provided to these individuals, will help to ensure that they remain customers of this organization, which will invariably continue to increase the profitability of this organization. It is paramount that organizational leadership develop a methodology by which to ensure that the maximum number of individuals from their customer base attend this forum, due to the fact that the more customers that attend this forum, the greater the likelihood that these individuals would gain some educational insight into the software that is marketed by this ...