Akinyele Samuel Taiwo
Many institutions of higher education are hesitant to consider themselves as customer-driven entities. It is common to view the student as the customer but this notion is not universally accepted. This paper reviews the debate in the education and marketing literature about students as customers and reveals the difficulty in using the word customer to describe the student/university relationship. The author argues that the debate must move away from identifying the customer and focus on the university as a service provider. An emerging perspective on market orientation suggest that strategic insights may be gained when firms take into account their customers’ view on the organization’s level of market orientation. Even the suggestion of the term customer can arouse many emotions, preconceptions, and misconceptions. The idea that students are partners in developing and delivering quality education threatens the historic, traditional academic role of faculty as purveyor of knowledge. Nevertheless, one fact has been proven over and over again. Customer-driven organizations are effective because they are fully committed to satisfying and anticipating customer needs. The future success of colleges and universities will increasingly be determined by how they identify and satisfy their various customers. This paper accentuates the subject by initially reviewing a number of theoretical viewpoints as to why a customer perspective should be sought when assessing organizational phenomena such as market orientation. The findings showed that all the proposed relationship were significant. The result further demonstrated that service quality acts as a partial mediator where customer satisfaction was not derived completely by service quality. This paper eventually concludes by elaborating the various conclusions derived from the study.
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