The arrival of the GSM service providers gave consumers more options with greater awareness of the global telecommunication market amid epileptic services in Nigeria. The quality concerns was further boosted by a rise in consumerism coupled with a more responsive Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) all of which created conditions for demand of service improvements which could not
be ignored by market-oriented organisations. The need to apply marketing concept which focuses on the wellbeing of consumers and the society becomes significant as advocated thus:
The key task of an organization is to determine
the needs, wants and interests of the target market, and adapt the organization to search for the best ways of delivering the desired satisfaction more effectively and efficiently than competitors, in such a way that will preserve and enhance the consumers’ and society’s long-run interest and wellbeing (Kotler and Keller, 2006).
The responsiveness of individual service providers to consumers’ needs and wants led to the demand of some brands over others in the selection of preferred service providers. In the face of these, consumers were confronted with the dilemma of differentiating high standard brands from those of others. Accordingly, consumers gave preference to brands that met their expected standards with perceived potentials to satisfy their needs and wants. Telecommunication service subscribers therefore have good knowledge of their service quality expectations.
Quality serves an important function in the market place. It is one of the key variables used by consumers in their brand selection for purchase decisions. It evokes a value associated with the brand image of the producing company in the minds of consumers. To the management, it is central to the development of the product concept in its attempt to position a product or service in the minds of consumers and prospects alike. Quality can therefore be perceived as the value of the content of a product by consumers. Cho (2000), posits that quality is the discovered value of a product either by search or an experienced evaluation process.
The telecommunication market in Nigeria today is characterised by some brands that are highly valued for better and more reliable quality service and so command a higher subscribers’ base. Others are not so well regarded and have not being able to win much confidence of subscribers and so resort to use of incentives such as bonuses or low charges for on-net calls. The rest of the other service providers fall in between these two categories. All operators in the market nevertheless try to offer attractive value-added services and promotional incentives to gain more market share. As a result of these innovations, making a brand choice among telecommunication service providers can be confusing to non-brand faithful subscribers in their purchase decisions. This provided the motivation to investigate the relationship between consumers’ perception of the quality of service offered by telecommunication service providers in the Nigerian market and brand preference in their purchase decisions. The need to ascertain such relationship and its related effects on the nation’s economic development drew the attention of the researcher to find out the key variables that appeal to consumers in their purchase decisions.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM on NITEL
Consumers’ response to the quality of telecommunication service in Nigeria has being largely considered to be unsatisfactory due to the multitude of challenges experienced. This is exacerbated by its complexity and enduring nature to the extent that it makes the demand for competing offerings from other service providers an irresistible attraction. The inconsistency in efficient service delivery and perceived poor quality offering of some companies gave rise to the erosion of such companies’ subscribers’ base, brand switching, subscription to multiple service providers with the associated requirement for multiple handsets/modems, poor brand loyalty, low brand preference with corresponding impact on brand equity, shifting market share, sub-optimal profitability and little or no competitive advantage among others.
The existing situation negatively affect the growth of individual telecommunication service providers and the industry in Nigeria through slower growth of subscribers’ base, relatively large number of industry players with no clear market leader and prevalence of unethical practices.
Others are smaller market share, exploitative pricing, compelling need for additional handset/modem on subscribers, underemployment, low tax value payable to government with resultant negative effects on the gross domestic product (GDP) leading to slower pace of development of the nation’s economy. The result has being the inability of most telecommunication service providers to optimally exploit the existing market in the industry with negative economic and social implications for the Nigerian state.
In order to improve on the operational effectiveness of individual telecommunication companies on the Nigerian market, it is necessary to evaluate the variables that underlie the perceived poor quality of service in the industry. Accordingly, consideration is given to important variables such as under capacity for existing volume of traffic, implementation of over-ambitious growth plans by some telecommunication companies without the required funding capacity, excessive profit repatriation for the benefit of other markets, and high cost of capital in the local economy among others.
Knowledge of the effect of these factors is relevant to adequate understanding of the perceived poor quality of telecommunication service in the industry. These motivated the need to examine how the behaviour of consumers towards the quality of telecommunication service offered in Nigeria affect individual company’s market performance and the resultant effects on the economic and social development of the nation.