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This research is used to explore the impact of perceived service quality on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

The main objective of this study was to identify the service quality offerings of Honeywell Flour Mills Nig. Plc and Lister Flour Mills Ltd to their customers, to ascertain the level of customer’s satisfaction and to determine the relationship between customer service and brand loyalty.

Questionnaires were used in collating respondent’s opinion.

The findings of the study based on the outcome using simple descriptive percentage and Pearson moment correlation method which interpreted the trends in the companies in terms of product quality, customer’s satisfaction, brand loyalty and perceived service indicate that positive significant relationship exist between perceived service quality, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Customers are the most important components that make up a business without satisfying them, there will be no loyalty.

Hence, some recommendations were suggested, one of which is that management must consider product quality and service quality as the foundation to build up consumer satisfaction and loyalty.


1.1 Background to the Study
The broad goal of every marketing organization is to achieve effectiveness in its mission and efficiency in its process.

Whereas the mission is its major objective, the process is its means or method of achieving the objective.

To be efficient is to maximize output from a minimum of input or resource.

To be effective is to achieve the purpose of existence for the organization.
Every marketing organization has used over the years product, price, place and promotion for the pursuit of these twin facets of management.

However, in more recent years greater creativity and improved scientific approaches are being employed to ensure that at every transaction the customer is receiving enhanced value through perceived service quality.

Cowell (1996), defined perceived service quality as the judgment made by consumers when they compare their expectations with their perceptions of what they receive (service experience).

Put differently, a service is regarded as an act, which add value to the recipient. It is also any activity or benefit that a party can offer to another, that is essentially intangible and does not result in ownership of anything.

Its production may or may not be tied to a physical product.

Service therefore may relate to the process involved e.g. operating systems for providing products or it may relate to the people involved and the quality of interaction with the customers.
Perceived service quality is today not given as a separate activity but is weaved into every facet of the business whether product, price, place (distribution) or promotion so that a total quality management in its broadcast sense is applicable.

Kotler (2002) defines service quality “as all parts of the distribution (delivery) process which add value to the transaction, from the customer’s view point”. Service quality is designated with four characteristics.

It is inseparable from the product provider, it is variable by the provider; it is perishable, meaning that it is lost anytime it is not given (utilized) and it is intangible, meaning that it is not a storable commodity.
Product or service is the main thrust for satisfying consumer needs.

Today production systems are faster, able to produce more in shorter time; miniaturizations are possible and in vogue, designs look elegant, simple and compact although sophisticated in function.

In all these, the consumer is being given more choice. Smart people keep creating niches for more satisfactions still for the discerning or sophisticated consumer e.g. designer wears, perfumes etc as distinct from popular brands.
Perceived service quality as a process or strategy is combined with other marketing mix to create satisfaction for the consumer and loyalty to the brand or business.

No business survives for a long time without achieving these twin results.

Business profitability and survival therefore force the marketer or entrepreneur to continuously challenge his/her structures, values, technology, products and offerings so that as consumers’ profiles, tastes, lifestyles, needs, etc. change, so will the marketer change because any business that remains static is doomed(Brandy &Robertson, 2001).
The drive to providing excellent service quality to customers has forced fundamental changes in many organizations.

Traditionally, hierarchical organizations have flattened out. Authority to act has moved from the top of the ladder to the bottom allowing employees in daily or regular contact with customers to act speedily and with assurance for the satisfaction of the customers on the spot.

To be able to do this with ease, such employees have been given very broad-based training in the operations of the organization and are also supplied with relevant and up to date information with regards to what the organization intends to achieve at every point in time(Christopher, 1994).
Companies that want to be in the forefront of success in satisfying consumers engage in marketing/consumer research to identify genuine needs, the size of the market, the location of prospective buyers, their age, gender, income levels, lifestyles, religious conviction etc.

The companies that know all these are usually able to produce goods or services that consumers purchase to satisfy their needs.
The centrality of customer satisfaction is found in the popular marketing epithet: “The customer is king”.

This is because whereas a political king rules his empire and expects obedience and respect from his subjects, the customer king, also expects his/her wishes, need and satisfactions to be paramount in the schemes of the producer.

This is why consumerism developed in modem marketing to forcefully, through legal or political means, make producers and suppliers, offer for sale, goods or services that are safe, economical affordable and dependable.

In this way, business will be seen as being customer-driven (Cowell, 1996).
Brand loyalty is linked to customer satisfaction.

If a producer readily produces goods or services that are safe, dependable, economical and affordable, the consumer is most unlikely to waver in purchases or seek to alternatives.

This is why Lis wood (2003) said that customer retention is the key to competitiveness and to driving profits, that the best measure of quality and value is customer retention.
Brand loyalty or customer retention is important for very many reasons.

Firstly, if a customer keeps coming back and gives a producer all of his or her business, then that producer has met the customers’ standards and expectations.

Secondly, it is more economical to manage a loyal customer than to build a new one.

Thirdly, a loss of a key customer could be very grievous because a new customer may not immediately equal the revenue made from the old and lost customer.

Fourthly, loyal/ retained customers are great apostles for your brands.

Fifthly, customer research has found out that loyal customers are often willing to pay up to 20% more for a brand or service whereas new customers will be unwilling to pay that.
Loyalty is so much more robust than satisfaction.

It is what people do, not what they say. What they say i.e. lip service, may be in the region of satisfaction.

What they do i.e. repeat purchase, complaints, suggestions on improvements, advocacy – are in the sphere of loyalty. Loyalty is similar to royalty.

It is dependable, predictable, respectable and profitable in the long run.

That is why, for winning companies, building loyalty in customers, is not the end of the service quality chain, but the beginning and core of the total business operation.
Kotler (2002) posited that it is the best policy for a company to keep profitable and highly satisfied customers for life by using various skills and creating various programs to keep them very satisfied and dissuade them from switching.

This is an important fact of marketing because a loss of a major customer can mean a loss of huge revenue, which may not be compensated for by a new customer.

Kotler suggested that companies could make their customers pass through the following: First time customer Repeat customer Client Advocate Member Partner Part owner.
Being part owner is perhaps the highest position a loyal customer can occupy.

A company can achieve this level of loyalty with its customers, without necessarily making the customers own shares in the organization.

If on the other hand, opportunity exists for the individual, or the organization that is a customer, to purchase part or all the company in order to continue to buy or promote its products or services, so be it. Sportsmen or women, these days buy into their clubs for these reasons just as famous musicians or popular singers buy into the recording companies that promote their works (Kotler, 2002).
In the view of many marketers, usage status, usage rate and loyalty are the most important outcomes of all purchasing processes.

Usage status refers to the experience of the customer relative to the product or brand.

Usage rate is the frequency with which customers use and purchase a product.

Often the Pareto 80/20 rule applies here, that is, 20 percent of users account for 80 percent of usage.

Loyalty determines whether the customer is committed to the brand.

Loyalty permits criticism or compliant. What is meant here is that a loyal customer will consider it a duty or obligation to criticize a company or brand he/she holds very dear if he/she notices something unpleasant occurring.

Such criticism may be private or public but the focus and goal will be a call for improvement.

Similarly, the company should welcome such criticism with openness of heart and see it as an opportunity to strengthen the faith or confidence of its loyalists.
Loyalty is not a happen chance event.

It is a result of painstaking service quality and visionary leadership from the company.

It is founded on a culture of excellence and a climate of respect for the individual customer in his/her feelings, tastes, emotions and all that promote self-esteem.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Flour Milling Industry is vibrant and with a huge production capacity.

Olaniyonu, (1998)gathered that there are about 22 mills around the country.

Any mill that seeks to justify its existence and effectiveness needs to have its marketing and production skills to its front burner.

In this regard, below are some of the problems identified in the study.
The Nigerian customers had changed over the years.

They are more educated and exposed than in the past.

The fact that virtually all the mills in the country sell to the same customers and outlets makes the matter worse so what are the problems consumers face in their choice of brands?

How has perceived service quality influenced the decisions of consumers in their choice of flour?

How has quality packaging been effective in marketing of flour and resulting in brand loyalty from customers?
Finally customer service quality is a major tool while customer satisfaction and brand loyalty are major results to achieve.

It is imperative therefore, for the organization to initiate/adopt processes, skill/technologies that have been found effective in the area of perceived service quality, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty to meet up with the current business challenges.

Therefore how does a flour mill position its product vis-à-vis competitors’ products because most consumers acquire goods that are tailored to their individualized need rather than the generalized need of the market?
1.3 Research Questions
In line with our statement of problem and research objectives, the researcher would try to find answers to the following questions in the course of the research.
– Are customers pleased and happy with the service quality offerings of both Honeywell and Lister brands?
– At what level can customer perceived quality on choice of products¬?
– Can perceived quality service enhanced customers patronage and satisfaction?
– Does customer satisfaction have a relationship with service quality perception?

1.4. Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of the study is to examine the influence of perceived service quality on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
The other specific objective of this study includes:
i. to examine the relationship between perceived service quality and customer satisfaction;
ii. to ascertain the relationship between customer satisfaction and brand loyalty; and
iii. to determine the relationship between customer service and customer satisfaction.
1.5 Significance of the Study
Gathering of this data has lead to a better understanding of the influencing level of the attributes on customer satisfaction.

The results of this study did not only contribute to the awareness of the relationship between the variables but it also direct managers in the flour industry for quality improvement to increase customer satisfaction.

Through the statistical analysis a conclusion on the existence of a relationship between qualities attributes of flour service provider and customer satisfaction will be more obvious.

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