Customers' Perceptual Analysis of Cellular Operators in Northern India

Article excerpt

In Indian context, telecommunication has emerged as one of the fastest growing services, as it has witnessed phenomenal growth from 22.8 million subscribers in 1999 to 746.77 million by the end of November 2010 (Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India, 2011). However, despite this unparalleled growth, few critical issues have emerged which affect the growth in a negative manner. These are decreasing ARPU, undifferentiated services, increased competition, rapid evolution of technology and highly dynamic customers. The present study has been undertaken to analyse the customers' perception about the following aspects of key telecom providers the value added services (VAS), service quality, customer satisfaction and loyalty. The results suggest that value added services are perceived to be a strategic tool to differentiate service of one provider from the other. Further, a comparative analysis of the leading service providers has been undertaken from customers' perspective to understand the variations in satisfaction and loyalty levels of their customers.

INTRODUCTION

Services constitute the tertiary sector in an economy, including all activities that are neither related to agriculture nor manufacturing. The emergence of services sector can be traced back to post World War-II era when it started assuming greater significance in rebuilding the world economies that were devastated due to the collapse of the manufacturing sector. Eventually, this phenomenon led to a change in their basic structure with services becoming the dominant component. However, with the passage of time, newer services were developed leading to their simultaneous commercialization and professionalization. As a result, the services sector became the back-bone of every economy. According to the Indian Economic Survey 2010-11(Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India, 2011), the services sector with an overall share of 64.2 percent in world GDP in 2009, has been playing a dominant role in the world order, especially in high-income countries which have transited to services-led growth.

In response to this, corporate sector has been developing multi-faceted services to deliver the best to the society leading to a phenomenal growth of service sector. This fact holds truth in Indian context also, where GDP of Rs.7,87,7947 crores (at current market prices, 2010-11) with a growth rate of 8.6%, gets a contribution of around 55.2% from a very dynamic and substantial services sector, that had an expected growth rate of around 10% for the year 2010-11 (Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India, 2011). Further analyzing the services sector, it has been seen that globally, the focus is shifting towards the telecom sector, especially in recent years, because of the enormous growth of Information Technology and its significant impact on the rest of the economy.

Globally, the telecommunications industry was estimated to be about US$4 trillion sector in 2010. It is one of the major employment providers in the world, with nearly 1 million employees in the United States of America alone (Plunkett, 2010). The cellular industry has impacted the world economies at both structural as well as economic level. It has emerged as the complex new industry with advanced technologies and organizational and human capabilities to deliver the services to the final user the industry also experiences a multiplier effect in terms of investments, income and employment. Many aspects of production and distribution systems have also changed since the advent of mobiles, contributing towards enhanced productivity. It has shrunk the boundaries of the world. Moreover, roaming the world with an access to information and communication has been possible due to the mobile telephony, developments in its technology and the global standards. Various agencies have estimated the global wireless subscriber base in 2010 to be around 5.3 billion users (The World Fact Book, 2011). Without such developments, globalization, as a phenomenon, would not have taken place as fast as it has over the recent years. …