PGA of BC – Listening to Customers Through Research

Blog 2 – PGA of British Columbia

 

Cost of Service: $840 annual membership, $50 for each seminar

 

Date: January 21st, 2013 at 9 am

 

Relating to Chapter 5

 

 

Textbook Concepts

Requirements Research

Complaint Solicitation

Social Media

Future Expectations Research

Lost Customer Research

Upward Communication

 

I am a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of British Columbia. The association is described on the website as: “an association of highly skilled and dedicated golf professionals who promote, play, develop and advance the game and business of golf for the benefit of its members and the people of British Columbia. Our members teach and administer golf while providing strong leadership in the community through charity events and volunteering. Dynamic and savvy, PGA of BC professionals are available at more than 200 golf facilities – a vital resource to the future of the game in Canada’s golf capital.” (PGAofBC)

Mission: “Our mission is to advance the game and business of golf for the benefit of our members and for the people of British Columbia; and

To actively promote enjoyment, participation and improvement in the game of golf” (PGAofBC)

Vision: “Our vision is for the PGA of BC brand and its members to be respected as the premier asset at golf facilities throughout the province” (PGAofBC)

To ensure that their vision and mission get met, the PGA of BC requires a team of administrators and board of directors that work with and for the members to make sure they are satisfied and are able to provide their customers with the highest quality service that reflects the PGA of BC positively.

Every year the administration team does up a member satisfaction survey to give to every PGA of BC member to find out what they are satisfied with, what they aren’t, and what new initiatives they would like to see. The surveys taken from 2012 indicated that the members would like to see more education opportunities such as speakers from the industry and seminars in all regions of BC. As a result, in 2013 the PGA of BC offered an education series featuring six events throughout the province instead of the one event offered in 2012. Because of the extended education series, I was able to attend two of the six series, which were very beneficial to me.

Application to Text

Requirements Research

The PGA of BC uses requirements research to determine what kind of questions will be asked in their surveys to make improvements. “Requirements research involves identifying the benefits and attributes that customers expect in a service.” (Zeithaml, 2012, pg. 124). To identify sources of satisfaction or dissatisfaction to mold their survey questions, the PGA of BC administrative team collaborates with the Board of Directors (who represent the members of the PGA and are members themselves). In this instance, the requirements research led to the questions in the survey that ultimately resulted in a bigger education schedule, less tournaments, and modification of current tournaments. (See letter in appendix)

 

Complaint Solicitation

One type of research used by the PGA of BC is complaint solicitation. The organization takes complaints very seriously and communicates to their members that they are always looking for feedback. (See end paragraph of PGA letter in appendix) The President of the PGA of BC is always in attendance to these events to field any questions, feedback or complaints. Chapter 5 explains that “To be effective, complaint solicitation requires rigorous recording of numbers and types of complaints through many channels and then working to eliminate the most frequent problems.” (Zeithaml, 2012 pg. 122) The PGA of BC is an excellent example of an organization that effectively solicits complaints in this manner.

 

Social Media

“Social media are one of the newest and most helpful tools available to companies wanting to know what their customers think of them.” (Zeithaml, 2012 pg. 113) The PGA of BC maintains a presence on Facebook and Twitter to interact with their members in a less formal manner that may make it more comfortable for the members to express their concerns or complaints. Not only does social media make it easy for the organization to receive complaints, it also makes it very easy to effectively publicly communicate your response to the complaints and what you are doing to fix them.

 

Future Expectations Research

The surveys given to the members contained questions geared towards future expectations or features of services they desire in the future. This was an example of features research. The PGA of BC also used lead user research which is defined as: “Bringing in customers who are opinion leaders/innovators and asking them what requirements are not currently being met by existing products.” (Zeithaml, 2012 pg. 122) These lead users would be the member-voted Board of Directors.

 

Lost Customer Research

For members that have resigned from the PGA of British Columbia, exit interviews are conducted over the phone, or via email between the president and the former member. The interviews ask the person open-ended and in-depth questions on what they were dissatisfied with, what could have been better, and what eventually lead to their resignation. A benefit of this form of research is that it “identifies failure points and common problems in the service and can help establish an early warning system for future defectors.” (Zeithaml, 2012, pg. 132)

 

Upward Communication

The PGA of BC’s Executive Director and President both maintain a presence at all PGA of BC sanctioned events to encourage upward communication. This is an example of the chapter 5 terms “executive visits to customers” and “executive of management listening to customers. They also utilize employee suggestions, encouraging the administration staff to share their thoughts on how to improve.

 

External Research

 

Responsiveness

The communicated improvements as shown in the letter found in the appendix exemplify the PGA of BC’s responsiveness. My textbook for TMGT 230 (Service Operations) defines responsiveness as: “the willingness to help customers and to provide prompt service.” It also explains: “responsiveness is communicated to customers by the length of time they have to wait for assistance, answers to questions, or attention to problems.” (Bitner, 1996 pg 73) The PGA of BC is a very responsive organization and provides many outlets for their members to express complaints, suggestions or ask questions and receive answers or solutions very promptly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Zeithaml, V. A., & Bitner, M. J. (1996). Services marketing. New York: McGraw Hill.

Zeithaml, V. A., & Bitner, M. J. (2012). Services marketing (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education ;.

 

 

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Appendix

 

PGA of BC Letter

 

January 28, 2013  Dear PGA of BC Members,  On behalf of the Board of Directors and Office Staff, I would like to take this  opportunity to wish you and your family a prosperous New Year and good health for 2013. Over the course of the fall and winter months, the PGA of BC Board, sub-committees, and office staff have been active working on new initiatives for the coming year. I would like to take this opportunity to share these plans with you.  
 
Membership Survey Results  Prior to the holiday season, a survey was sent to all members of the Association. Approximately half of the membership responded, providing the Board with valuable feedback. The survey re-affirmed many areas of importance and priority for the Association and we are happy to report these areas and priorities are consistent with the Board's vision for the future.  
 
Great Work, James Cronk: The Board would like to recognize the excellent contributions of Class "A" member and Principle of the Cronk Group, James Cronk, for volunteering to collaborate the survey results for the Association. To view a summary of the  survey, please click here. [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001J5BNOOtreQSuuJbLVo-mJ-aDoI7D9fXMBr07dCHpWyORTIwloIxIuTJ3iggZmg6q-tHnVXYHZIQMZSQax6D4kV542DvaXca3QhnJCMyMbYLwRAUSwGlUO-CGQONAk80vbsb3f0cLbA-Hh8iuOT8T-FRx63hPWzQReCOPbFEcu5zFtgS7xKamzeGyXzJgpPfwufNa1ovMDnw=] 
 
Education and Professional Development  The PGA of BC has expanded the Education Series program from one event to 6 events over the winter of 2013. Sponsored by Jancor Agencies, the series is designed to  provide our members with opportunities to learn, network and further develop business skills during the off season. The program offers a wide-range of topics presented mainly by our own PGA of BC members. To help reduce the cost of travel and to include greater member participation, these events are scheduled to take place in several regions of the province. The office will be providing several recordings of the  series for online member viewing.  
 
Spring Seminar, Annual General Meeting and Awards Presentation Feb. 18-19: The annual Spring Education Seminar will take place this year at the beautiful Point Grey Golf & Country Club in Vancouver, February 18-19th. We are proud to announce a terrific lineup of award-winning speakers at this year's seminar, whose topics have been  drawn from a various number of requests put forth by members. Kicking off the seminar will be Andy Hilts, who is a PGA of America Master Professional and recently name one of Golf Digest's Top 20 Instructors under 40 in America.  We also have Jeff Ritter, who is a Golf Professional based out of Phoenix, Arizona and is dedicated to elevating the potential of every golf professional though strategic marketing and personal branding. He has generously offered a complimentary electronic version of his book "5 Must Do's" to the PGA of BC Membership. If you have not yet seen it, we highly recommend you view this document by  clicking here [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001J5BNOOtreQTAVz_BdXzF4-EcPCxgPyuptba-q6L4j2zTXc5MlqWjOZrHx3TqKeKwSieVDUTurYAw_IKojnneP7P6I2Mu_Z1Z3wZPm25lYggXxI6Gx9x0fid41m-ghlpqxE7stQGNfaFBGxvEXrNQOVexpWJT-7MJ-GFfEqTRm9KQtFvIwXZ7d61JaWUs8CUnBwM5VQanhwQ=].  
 
Wrapping up our great lineup of speakers is Jason Glass, owner and operator of the Tour Performance Lab and Kinetica Golf Performance in Surrey, B.C. Jason specializes in training rotary athletics, biomechanics, TPI physical assessments and functional strength training. His presentation will primarily surround fitness and nutrition, and how they apply to golf.  Tickets to attend this seminar are only $59.00 for members, which shows the tremendous value of our Education program.Please click here to register for this event today [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001J5BNOOtreQRKQFjORSegkLNljeLYXej-6CmRuhHtb37vzQTX2uoGD4TMTpM7HV--E0pMgF_i2TRMX3TjPddW0f3qBBLuuQyn-ciANAbcWC7m3VDeoHfsuZCc3lRa1dvggn6vaKDqF-o6310M-NiWXOpy87BwgOMX].  
 
Tournament Program  The 2013 PGA of BC Tournament program will see some changes from it's traditional schedule.  Fewer Events: In order to streamline events and satisfy the needs of our members  and sponsors, the Board has temporarily removed the Pro-Executive Championship  and the Pro-Pro Championship from this year's schedule. We thank all those who have supported these events throughout the years and hope to see these events return  to the schedule in the future.  Two Day PGA Championship: The 2013 PGA of BC Championship will be conducted as a  two day 36-Hole event, reducing the demand on the host facility and allowing more members to participate without having to take as much time off work or spend as  much on meals and accommodation.  PGA Championship Bonus-Purse: We are also introducing a new "bonus-purse" feature for the PGA of BC Championship that offers additional prize incentives for certain categories of competitors  who may not otherwise have a strong chance to win a prize in the overall competition. We hope in turn, this increases member participation in our flagship event. More  details to follow in the spring.  
 
2013 Tournament Schedule: We are pleased to announce the 2013 PGA of BC Tournament Schedule below and sincerely hope that many more of our members plan to support  these excellent events. In addition, we would like to acknowledge the playing privileges extended to the PGA of BC by some of our provinces finest golf facilities.  
 
DATE                      EVENT                                              HOST  May 27                    Tournament of Champions                  The Vancouver  Golf Club  June 3-4                  Assistants', Women's, & Seniors'          Chilliwack Golf Club  July 8-9                   Pro-Assistants' Championship               Gallagher's Canyon G&CC  July 22                    Pro-Junior Championship                      Summerland G&CC  Jul 31-Aug 1            Playing Ability Test                               Hazelmere Golf & Tennis Club  August 19-20           PGA of BC Championship                      Salmon Arm Golf Club  Sept 30-Oct 1          Club Professional Championship            Shaughnessy G&CC  Member 
 
Feedback: The PGA of BC Board of Directors and Office Staff are always open to member suggestions and feedback. Should you have any questions or comments, please direct them to XXXXXXXXX, Executive Director, by email, [mailto: or by phone, 

Blog 1 – Virgin Airlines on Twitter

I have been following Virgin Atlantic – a British airline recently brought to North America.  I had heard through a friend that Virgin had a great Twitter account that not only shared exclusive promotions, but also responded live to customer concerns and questions.

A quick look at the Virgin Twitter profile and it’s clear that the company has invested a lot of time and resources into the platform, and likely have hired a few a full-time employees just to manage the account.  Along with their exclusive Twitter promotions (which are pretty common across all brands these days) they are constantly Tweeting funny pictures and updates from staff, pilots, or travellers, and retweeting updates from their customers.

Virgin also manages to be extremely responsive to customer’s tweeting concerns to them about things like in-flight food to their online ticketing purchases.  They respond promptly and in a very personable manner.  I decided to test their ‘Twitter customer service’ by sending them a direct message regarding the poor quality of their in-flight wifi on my flight from Seattle to Arizona.  About 30 minutes later I received a response from the company profusely apologizing and stating that they would look into the issue immediately.  I thanked them for their great customer service and the immediately responded with a smiley face wishing me a great day. Based on my expectations prior to this online interaction I would rate this service experience a 7 out of 7. I would base this rating on how prompt they were with their response, and the empathy they displayed that made me genuinely believe that they were concerned about my issue and were going to make sure it did not happen again. I was very pleasantly surprised to receive this kind of personalized service from such a large organization. When I sent in my complaint through Twitter I did not expect to receive anything more than an apology and some empathy and that is exactly what I received. The price of these services is absolutely free. You do not have to be a customer of Virgin Airlines to receive answers to your questions. This kind of personalized and humanized service would make me extremely likely (7 out of 7) to continue to do business with the company.

These days it’s pretty rare to find a large company that’s not on Twitter.  But the issue I have found is that these companies fail to understand the essence of the platform; that Twitter is an innately social application, not just another medium to blurt out advertising messages.  Virgin gets that Twitter is about one-to-one communication.  They use the application not just share promotions, but to actually listen to their customers to allow them to enhance the Virgin Atlantic experience, and they don’t speak to us in some stodgy corporate voice, but a young and fun one that allows them to showcase their great brand culture.

 

Application to Text

Using Twitter as an outlet for fielding customer questions and complaints is a great way for Virgin to close Gap 1 of the Gaps model of service quality. The function of their Twitter activity can be used to eliminate inadequate customer research orientation, insufficient relationship focus, and inadequate service recovery. (Zeithaml, 2012 pg. 37)

Virgin’s one on one Twitter communication with customers almost adds a tangible characteristic to their services even though a major distinguishing characteristic of services over goods is that they are often thought to be intangible. (Zeithaml, 2012 pg. 20). Customers can see the Twitter responses from Virgin and they can go back and review the tweets whenever they want, almost making the twitter responses a piece of physical evidence of their service.

Services are also often thought of as heterogeneous. “They are frequently produced by humans, so no two services will be precisely alike” (Zeithaml, 2012 pg. 21). By being able to respond to customer inquiries and complaints through Twitter, Virgin can easier mechanize their customer service through these outlets by using consistent language and templates for their responses that fit the company image, reducing the challenges that heterogeneous services pose.

For organizations that have a presence on Twitter and other social media outlets, the effects of word-of-mouth communications have a major importance. One customer’s bad experience can be shared to their network of followers who can also share the experience with the click of the retweet button. These effects can travel very fast so it is important that a company like Virgin be very quick to respond to anyone trying to communicate their thoughts as negative word-of-mouth can travel very fast amongst Twitter’s ever-growing user base. The text states that “word-of-mouth communication tends to be very important in services that are difficult for customers to evaluate before purchase and before having direct experience of them.” (Zeithaml, 2012 pg. 64)

Another concept that could apply to service businesses using technological products can be the Eight Central Paradoxes of Technological Products. (Zeithaml, 2012 pg. 19) These paradoxes can cause challenges for companies like Virgin Atlantic just as much as they can benefit the organization.

External Research

This article talks about how service businesses are using social media to establish trust that will in turn lead to positive word-of-mouth communication. According to the article, “trust is not built overnight. It’s nurtured over time with every customer, vendor and employee micro-interaction.” (Smiciklas, 2011) I find this to be very accurate and relative to my service experience with Virgin Atlantic – – Although in my case they almost did build trust overnight with their prompt personalized responses.

 

References

Smiciklas, M. (2011, May 11). Word Of Mouth Marketing. Social Media Explorer. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/word-of-mouth-marketing/

Zeithaml, V. A., & Bitner, M. J. (2012). Services marketing (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education ;.

 

 

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