ROLE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN ENHANCING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

ABSTRACT: The study basically examined the role of public relations in enhancing customer satisfaction with a case study of PZ Nigeria Plc. Therefore, public relations has remained a powerful tool in building and maintaining mutual understanding between the company its various publics, It also helps in building a good image and satisfying the needed information by customers on behalf of a company thereby leading to overall customer satisfaction. The role of public relations cannot be overlooked because a company with the bad image cannot succeed in any competitive climate and as a result of this, companies and individuals are engaging the service of public relations to help build, maintain and sustain their communication and reputation at all time so that they achieve customer satisfaction. The study is anchored on Gruning and Hunt Theory, Uses and Gratifications Theory and Situational Theory. The study adopted a survey research method while questionnaire was also used to elicit data from the respondents. Findings show that the majority of the respondents (70%) admitted that public relations are used in bridging the communication gap between management and customers. Also, many of the respondents stressed that the public relations department of PZ has really enhanced customers’ satisfaction largely. It was recommended that public relations should ensure that the image of organization be their priority because the image is the company.   


CHAPTER ONE

1.0       Introduction

1.1       Background to the Study

            The role of public relations in enhancing customers’ satisfaction in an organisation cannot be underestimated especially in this competitive and consumer-centric society that businesses find themselves since the image of an organisation determines its gain or failure. It will be difficult if not impossible for any profit-oriented organization like PZ to achieve growth, increase in turnover and profit without some public relations efforts to gain goodwill and public interest.

Arowosegbe (2005) in Abodunrin (1995) posits that Public Relations believes that the environment within which an organisation operates should be conducive and peaceful to ensure the continued and happy survival of that organisation and the consistent achievement of its objectives. This translates to harmony between an organisation and its publics.

It should be noted that the core interest of public relations is to achieve mutual relations between an organsation and its various publics which customers is one. Ogbiten (2014) in British Institute of Prublic Relations (n.d) attested to this position when it defines Public relations as “the delibrate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintained mutual  understanding between an organisation and its publics”

Similarly, Arowosegbe (2005) cited International Public Relations Association (n.d) defined public relations as “the establishment of two-way communication to solve conflicts of interests by seeking common grounds or areas of mutual interest and the establishment of understanding based ib truth, knowledge and full information.

Thus, public relations is a unique management function that every organisation must integrate into its philosophy because it helps in establishing, maintaining mutual interest, two way communication and acceptance of an organisation among its various publics. It involves the management of issues, helps management to keep inform, gain public opinion, serves as remainder of social responsibility, helps analysis trends, predicting future and consiquencies, counselling management and implementing planned programmes of action for the benefit of the organisation and its publics. Ogbiten (2014).

Public relations as a management function must influence all management efforts, policies, programmes and decisions to favour the public interest.  Therefore, organization should act right in the best interest of the majority and support activities that will enhance the welfare of the customers and solidify their confidence in your organisation. Charles, (2006) in Ogunsanya (1991) posits that public relations is an inalienable lubricant in the wheel of strategic management. Stressing that public relations must be expressed in action and in must be in the public interest.

            Charles, (2006) was of the opinion that there may not be any hide space in todays’ business climate that is been shaped by what the public wants, says or prefers which can be summarised as ‘public opinion and public attitudes’. In this century, we are now living in an era of “The public be pleased” “the customer is always right”.

            Thus, it is against this background that the research examines the role of public relations in enhancing customers’ satisfaction with a view to know the level of effectiveness of PZ in achieving this core value.  

1.2     Statement of the Problem

              This research has observed that in so many organizations, management neither recognize nor appreciate public relations efforts in Nigeria because the management does not realize the public relations activities in building and enhancing a good image for the standard of the organization.         

          It has been observed that the management attitude is lukewarm and non-challant toward public relations department and their activities, besides, they don’t want to spend money on its activities such as organizing seminars, workshops, symposium e. t. c this is because of the erroneous and selfish belief that public relations efforts is not beneficial to the organization.

         Hence, the research examines the role of public relations in enhancing customers’ satisfaction with a view to know the level of effectiveness of PZ in achieving this core value.   

1.3              Objectives of the Study

i.     To examine the role of public relations in an organization.

ii.   To highlight ways by which an organization can use PRs in satisfying customers.

1.4       Research Questions

i.  To what extent PZ use public relations in enhancing customers satisfaction?

ii.  Does management sees public relations as a veritable tool of satisfying customers.

1.5       Scope of the Study

            The research examines the role of public relations in enhancing customers’ satisfaction was narrowed down in cope to PZ Nigeria Plc, Lagos. Therefore, the geographical location of the study was Lagos. The study  was limited because visiting all companies in Nigeria cannot be possible. However, the demography of the workers and management of PZ Nigeria PLC, Lagos such as: age, gender, work experience, academic qualification will be considered  before the distribution of questionnaires.

1.6       Significance of the Study

          At the end of this study the following category of people, organisation ad corporate bodies will benefit from the findings of this study.

Society: Different organizations in society whether small or big will know the benefits of public relations through the result of the findings and how they can use PR for their gain. 

Researchers: Future researchers who will be researching into the area related to this topic will find this work relevant.

Scholars: It will form bulk material in academic field particularly in public relations, mass communication, advertising, among other. Students in the fields will also see reasons to understand the importance of their course of study to the industrial development.

1.7       Operational Definition of the Study

Role: It is the responsibilities or functions or impact.

Public Relations: Public relations is deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics. British Institute of Public Relations (IBPR).

Customer: A person buying goods or service from organization.

Satisfaction: Fulfill the needs or meet a demand or desire need.

Enhancing:   Improving or increasing the quality, value of something.

Publics: These are the different publics an organization deals with.

 

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