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To identify various techniques to improve customer service at LIDL through business operations

Introduction:

The construction of research report is very responsible and quiet of a learning job with the perspective of academic life. The research report helps in developing the intellect about the study area or focused approach of the researcher. In current scenario the management area that has been covered is marketing and within the customer services has been taken into special consideration. Further the industry wise the priority has been given to the online retail sector.

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Task 1:

Title:

To identify various techniques to improve customer service at LIDL through business operations.

Background:

There are various factors which are needed to be determined with the perspective of understanding the effectiveness business of any retail outlets or online stores. Customer service is also one of them that has huge impact at the mindset of customers and enable an online retail store to make healthy and long term relationship with customers. Customer’s service is very important term that took place at both the ends of purchasing process. There is huge requirement of ensuring that the customers should get proper services before buying any item from the retail outlets and after sales service should also required to be improved at very large scale. It is to acknowledge that the positive customer service always helps in depicting the culture of business entity and most importantly the customer centric approach of company could also promoted in appropriate manner (Donnelly and   Harrison, 2009). The customer service is something that has huge role in promoting the satisfaction shopping experience and it helps in ensuring the customer retention as well. The perception of customers could become positive towards the operations. The entire life cycle of customer relationship could become stronger and impact of one aspect could be realized upon another. Here it is essential to understand that the customer satisfaction always lead towards the customer loyalty and result in positive brand value. There are lots of benefits of effective customer service. It is one step extra element that caused high level of favorable purchasing experience for the customers.

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Other than increment in brand value and fulfillment of organizational marketing objectives the organization can get the leverage of increment in their revenue generation capacity as well as the profitability could be increased. The customers publicize the name of company and recommend others due to their positive shopping experience. The personal experience always leads towards the suggestions to others and the online stores can get the advantage of this particular element. The customer’s service enables an organization to build their reputation on the ground of customer’s service and meeting the issues and challenges of the customers related to product. Such organization stays highly attentive towards the demand and experience of customers and give their hundred percent towards the feedback of customers (Vieceli And Valos, 2000). There are various techniques through which the customer services could be improved at very large scale. The major technique is that the online retailers should focus upon the high level of maintenance towards their website which is their major place of connecting with customers. The proper constructed and well maintained website always helps on the ground of providing the best services to the customers and they got the chance to select the customers. Through website the connectivity with customers could be developed so the navigation facilities are required to be highly effective. Ahead the inventory as well as supply chain management is required to proper. The well organized inventory and supply chain management is part of business operations. It can definitely enable and organization to improve their delivery timing and most importantly the customer satisfaction could be improved (Sharp, 1991). Overall it is clear that the organization needs to focus on their core business operations so that the reliability of customers towards the online retailer could be maintained. Here in current scenario the special focus has been considered on the marketing management and the area of study is developing the customer centric approach. Further the purpose of the study is to understand the impact of business operations on customer services and identifying the appropriate techniques that can help in ensuring the excellent customer services.

The reason behind the selection of this study or research topic is that personally the loop holes or flaws into the business operations or customer service quality of LIDL has been found. Thus in order to understand the reasons behind the flaws and which area of business operations can provide the appropriate result has been taken into special consideration. It is clear that the report could be helpful in gaining the knowledge about online business and the role of customer service into the growth of LIDL could be identified very easily. Hence these are certain reasons that have influenced to conduct the study.

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LIDL is a German brand and is a discount super market chain and number of stores for LIDL is 10000 stores all across the globe. The outlet is rapidly growing and has its presence in various countries of Europe. The major competitor for the LIDL is ALDI which is another discount retail chain in Germany. Basically the company has opened its stores in the year 1940 and now employed approximately 31000 employees. The parent company for mentioned brand is Schwarz Group that has handled the business of LIDL since its inception.

Aims and objectives:

Aim: The major aim of this study is to investigate the ways to bring improvement in customer services through improvement in business operations. Here the case study of LIDL has been taken into special consideration.

Objectives:

The main aim of the study is:

  • To identify the importance of customer service
  • To identify various ways to bring improvement into the customer services
  • To assess the role of business operations in customer service

Research questions:

  • What is the importance of customer service?
  • How customer service could be improved through various business operations techniques?
  • What is the role of business operations in customer service?

Thus these aims and objectives and research questions have become the basis of entire study.

Design/ methodology:

In order to achieve above mentioned aims and objectives the research methodology section should be undertake into the most painstaking manner. Here the research methodologies have been selected so that the research could be conducted in an appropriate manner. It is to acknowledge that the methodology always helps on the ground of guiding the researcher to move towards the right direction and following all the fundamentals while conducting the study. In current scenario the selected philosophy is interpretive research philosophy. It could be helpful with respect to identifying the various techniques or ways that can help in improving the customer service (Hjørland, 2005). With the help of interpretive research philosophy it could become easier to focus hugely upon various dimensional study and knowledge from different perspective about the business operations and their role within the improvement in customer services could be identified. Ahead it is also clear that the interpretive research philosophy provide the analysis about the subject matter form different opinions and viewpoint of people on the contrary positivism research philosophy indicates towards only one element or factor. The freedom of scrutinizing the subject matter form different dimensions is absent in positivism research philosophy (Hoy, 2009). Thus the interpretive research philosophy is something that is more suitable as compare to positive research philosophy.

Further with the perspective of research approach the researcher has relied upon the deductive research approach. Here deductive approach could be helpful with respect to analyze the ways to improve the customer service through business operations. Through deductive approach it becomes easier to get sufficient amount of knowledge about the subject matter. Here the inductive research approach is not suitable as the researcher is not concentrating upon propounding any new theory. Thus it becomes clear that the nature of research report supports the deductive approach (Jonas, 2007). Ahead the research scenario clears that the report is mix of both qualitative and quantitative nature. The qualitative research is moreover used within the study so that the deep understanding about the subject matter could be gained. Through qualitative nature of study it becomes clear that the wide range of information could be gathered from data collection process. At the same juncture it is also clear that the data collection could be done through primary sources and secondary sources of data collection. The primary sources for the data collection are questionnaire, interview techniques, focus groups and most importantly the observation group. Here the questionnaire technique has been taken into special consideration. Further the secondary sources of data collection are online books, articles, newspaper articles, journals etc. these secondary sources has helped hugely in gathering the relevant and useful piece of information (Merriam, 2009).

On the ground of sampling the random sampling technique has been taken into special consideration. The 20 customers, 2 staff members of LIDL and 1 manager have been taken into special consideration. This sample size is sufficient enough to get understanding about the level of customer services to be required and the business operations that can bring excellence in customer services. It is to acknowledge that these aspects help immensely on the ground of conducting the study in an appropriate manner. Ahead the data analysis technique that has been applied within the report is related to the thematic analysis. It is highly effective on the ground of analyzing the subjective information and qualitative nature of report. To ensure the reliability of the study the data collection techniques has been selected in very painstaking manner and it just allows ensuring the genuineness of the information. The validity has also maintained through sampling process by selecting the relevant people who can provide accurate information about the subject matter. The ethical consideration that has been prioritized in current scenario is the no manipulation in the data and information. It is clear that the researcher has utilized all the information in proper way and accurate outcomes have been proposed. Further there is no evidence of steeling the information from secondary sources like online books and journal articles (Muijis, 2010). Plagiarism has been avoided in entire report. In order to maintain the ethical consideration the confidentiality of respondent has been maintained an their details have not been shared or publicized.

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Time scale or plan of implementation:

Conclusion:

On the basis of above discussion it can be concluded that the customer services could be easily handled with the help of change or improvement in business operations. Further the research methodology has been selected as per the nature of topic or content. All the selected research methodologies can work as guideline and direct to move into right direction. Further the aims and objectives have been constructed aligned with the focus and purpose of the study and most importantly justifying with the thought process of researcher. Overall the above designed research proposal is helpful in conducting the entire research report.

Task 2:

The use of the resources determine towards the collection of data and most importantly improving the level of research as well. The resources are questionnaire and secondary sources of data collection. These sources have high level of relevancy with the perspective of achieving of research objectives. The use of the resources has been done in collecting the primary data for thematic analysis and most importantly conducting the literature review for the purpose of developing the intellect about the subject matter. The efficient use of resources suggests that the information must be reliable and gathered ethically. There should be authenticity and genuineness within the data that has been collected for the purpose of conducting the study or for analyzing purpose. Literature review is something that has high level of relevance with the collection of secondary data and it shed light on various dimensions of the study.

The excellence in customer service depicts the customer centric approach of an organization and determines that the company is committed to deliver full value of customer’s investment. It is something that might help on the ground of improving the legal aspects as well. The service standards generally maintained as per the international standards and it just contribute within the customer satisfaction and meeting out their expectations. It represents towards the excellent performance of the company on the ground of treating or handling their customers. The customers can put their trust upon the company and can rely while dealing with any online retailer (Schaefer, 2011). The service sector revolves around the four major elements excellent services, customer retention and satisfaction and most importantly the increment in profitability ratios. These elements have high level of relevancy with the various aspects of business. The major importance of customer service is that it helps on the ground of increasing the profitability of an organization. It can’t be neglected that the profitability is dependent upon variety of elements. Positive brand value, brand awareness, high level of customer acquisition etc. these are certain components of marketing that lead towards the improvement in profitability. Actually these aspects have direct relationship with the increment in sales ratio which further resultant in the profitability increment ratio. The brand awareness as well as its value and image could be improved immensely if the service quality of any retail sector is highly effective and satisfactory. It helps in managing the lifetime relationship with customers. Thus at the same point the availability of customer retention could be developed. If the company is able to build long term relationship with customers and if got success in keeping them satisfied then it definitely enable them getting success on the ground of customer retention. These aspects are interlinked and related to each another (Goessl, 2010).

The impact of one element could be realized upon another. It is essential to mention that with the perspective of maintaining the high level of customer retention the satisfaction needs to be high with every transaction. Thus it becomes clear that it demands the continuous efforts and contribution in making the customer happy and satisfied. It is something that has helped on the ground of improving the customer loyalty. It is another importance of excellent customer service that the customers could be put into the loyal mode as they found their company to show their reverence towards the hardened earned money. When customers experienced that the company is not in business to snatch money from customer and its providing the excellent services just to increase their comfort then it just make loyal towards the organization. In case of online sector organizations the need of understanding the issues and challenges faced by customers and eradicating them on the immediate basis. The importance is also associated with the customer satisfaction. It is the ultimate objective of any online retailer that customer should be satisfied from all the perspectives. If it is associated to product quality, pricing of the product, range of products and most importantly the delivery of the product. Thus if these aspects have gained huge consideration then the significance of customer services could be availed by customers and company both. It is to acknowledge that whether customer service provides benefits to the customers but more than customers the business entity availed the benefits of customer’s services (Wang and Tang, 2003). As mentioned above that the customer service starts it impression or positive impact form positive or favorable change in customer perception then it brings customers towards the firm and lead towards the customer acquisition as the purchase decision making process become positive. Afterwards the customer experience is excellent and it helps in incrementing the customer satisfaction. Further the major factor is that the satisfaction provides the retention of customers and provides loyal customers for the company. Thus in this way it is complete cycle of developing the relationship with customers which is managed properly through positive customer services. Other than these benefits like profitability the improvement in brand image and publicity is another high significant result that has been understood easily through above discussions.

The continuity of such business results always remains with the company for the longer period of time. It is to acknowledge that the company can experience supportive behavior from the company and switch ration become very low. Thus in this way the behavioral aspects also become positive for the online retailers (Miller, 2012). Market development and product diversification are another two major advantages that can’t be neglected at this juncture. It is clear that the online retailer need to have tie ups with maximum number of manufacturers so that good product range could be offered to the customers. If the product range is high then more numbers of customers could be attracted. But it could be possible only through customer services. It is also a chain process that undertook within the organization. When company commence their business with existing suppliers or products then they need to have highly effective customer services so it increase their brand image and it automatically attracts the manufacturers to place their product on their website. Thus it leads towards the high level of increment in product range and in result the market share could also developed easily. The customer service is something that has potential to grow business with respect to expansion and diversification (Greasley, 2007). Both these elements are the part of strategic management and it proves that customer service excellence has its huge positive impact at the strategy formulation process. Thus there is need of understanding these benefits of excellent customer services and implementing them within the organization. In order to avail these advantages or significant aspects of customer service the organization need to put extra efforts in changing the customer perception and improving the customer experience. The disciplined and dedicated approach is required to be developed so that the customer may get what they deserve. Thus the fulfillment of objectives related to the customer relationship management is the major important results of excellent customer service.

Business operations and its impact at customer’s expectations:

Business operations are basically activities that undertake by companies in order to manage their business and meeting out the customers’ expectations. It is clear that the business operations have huge impact at the expectation level of customers. The business like managing the inventory ensures that the customers should get the product available at the website. However the customers don’t have direct relevancy with the business operations but still the business operations may affect the customers and their dealings (Pencer, 2013). If the inventory management is not effective then it is clear that it affects the availability of product. It is clear that the situation of under stock could be experienced. For instance, if any customer found the product to be very much attractive but the product remains out of stock and if one customer found the same scenario for two or three times then it can put its negative impact at the customer expectations. It is something that has high level of relevancy with meeting out the customer’s demand. Thus the inventory management must gain huge consideration in entire business operations. For online retailers the maintenance of website is also very crucial part of their business operations. The customers should get properly organized and systematic website rather than the webpage which remains stuck always and don’t have capacity to handle the high level of customer traffic. The website is required to be managed so that the customers can navigate the product very easily. Ahead the website management also includes the product description and offer description in an appropriate manner. The details about any offer and product must be mentioned in effective way so that the customers can take their decision accordingly. The changes into the details or offers could disturb the customers and their mindset could be changed. The expectations of customers always remain to get the true information about the product so the website should have genuine and authentic information (Zhou, 2004). It is something that should gain huge consideration into the business operations as it has direct relationship with the customers’ expectations. Well integration among various departments is also a part of business operations that could help in fulfilling the expectations of customers. Here it includes that the organization should have proper communication and information dissemination process so that the information about the shopping or purchase of customers could be identified and order could be processed accordingly. Further other departments can process the sales and alignment between all the operational activities could be cone very quickly so that the customers may get accurate and fast services or delivery of their product. Within the online retailers the significance of business operation is that the queries and feedbacks of customers must be accessed properly and effectively. It helps with respect to understand the demand or problems faced by customers so that the solutions could be made accordingly. It lies into the category of IT business operations. The role of information and technology department remains very high within the business operations of the company so it helps in fulfilling the expectations of customers. Therefore it becomes clear that the business operations and customer expectations have direct relationship and the organization is required to put control on their business operations. The departments within the online retailers need to understand their responsibilities and have to behave as per the roles and responsibilities. The marketing department is requiring providing the right information at right time (Pencer, 2013). The customers should get information within time and the accuracy of information is also required.

Ways to improve customer services:

Loopholes into the above mentioned business operations could be problematic in various instances. There is requirement of bringing the change into the business operations so that issues and challenges related to customer services could be improved. It is to acknowledge that the commitment and dedicated approach is something that helps on the ground of improving the customer services. The individuals should be clear with their roles and responsibilities and most importantly the employees must be clear with their goals and objectives with respect to ensuring the customer satisfaction and meeting out their expectations. The role of employees is very huge in dealing with customer or delivering the excellent services. At the same juncture it is also clear that the training must be provide to employees so that their performance could be improved and most importantly the alignment with the organizational goals could be maintained. The employees must be communicated well about the aims of providing the training to them. Taking the proper feedback form from the customers is another technique that can help in ensuring the improvement in customer services (Krakel, 2007). The feedback forms could provide the real problems faced by customers and loop holes into the business operations could be identified very easily. The feedback forms could be treated as ways to improve the level of customer services. It creates the opportunity to understand the expectations of customers. It is to ascertain that the starting phase of improvement in customer services is identifying the customer expectations. If an organization failed to do so then the satisfactory services can’t be delivered. The feedback forms are the best way to get familiar with the customer perception about the brand image. The positive things could be restored for future practices and negative aspects mentioned into the feedback form could be improved in near future.

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It is one of ways to increase connectivity with customers. In order to meet out the customers’ expectations first of all it is essential to understand their mindset. To establish relationship with the customers is something that has high level of relevance on the ground of engaging customers towards the brand. The segmentation must be done by the company so that the level of customer services to be provided becomes clear. Segmentation is the core activity which done the half work related to bringing the suitable change into the customer services. The business operations could be improved with the help of regular monitoring of the business activities (Zhou, 2004). The inventory management could become proper by estimating the demand of customers and forecasting it effectively. It is one of the major techniques that enable an organization to align their supply demand game with each another. The regular monitoring provides the information about the flaws in business and changes could be introduced effectively. Changes in products and services could be other solutions that can also help in order to improving the service quality. The communication is something that can bring positive working environment and can show its positive results in internal as well as external environment. Through communication internally employees could be motivated. Thus the role of communication is huge within the improvement in customer services. It is a part of customer relationship management so the solution is hidden in adopting the customer centric approach within the organization. The company should move further with the fact that what customer perceives or expects is the basis of customer satisfaction. It fosters the improvement in service quality and above mentioned techniques and methods can also provide yielding outcomes (Krakel, 2007). Hence it becomes clear that other than dedicated and committed approach attentiveness is also essential element.

Data collection process:

Questionnaire for customers:

Name: ___________________________________________________________

Age: __________________________

Gender: ________________________________________

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  • Do you purchase products through online platform?
    Yes ( ) No ( )
  • Are you aware about the name of LIDL?
    Yes ( ) No ( )
  • Do you find their navigation facilities proper and easy?
    Yes () No ()
  • What changes you have found is LIDL’s servicing quality and other big online retailer’s service quality?
    ______________________________________________________________________
  • Do you find customer relationship management of company very much attractive if yes, then how?
    Yes () No ()

Questionnaire for managers and staff people:

Name: ____________________________________________

Age: ______________________________________________

Gender: ____________________________________________

Position: ___________________________________

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  • Are you aware of the benefits that could be availed through excellent customer service?
    Yes () No ()
  • What kind of customer services improvement efforts has been made by LIDL?
    ________________________________________________________________________
  • The level of customer loyalty and retention ratio within the organization is:
    High () Moderate () Low ()
  • How business operations and customer service is interrelated to each another?
    _____________________________________________________________________
  • Does customer services lead towards the customer satisfaction:
    Yes () No ()

Thus it is major questions that have been asked from customers and employees as well as manager of cited organization. It can provide the actual efforts made by company to bring improvement within their customer service. Further the level of current service quality of LIDL could also be measured along with the identification of ways to improve customer services. The questionnaire has given priority to understand the role of business operations within the improvement in customer services.

Evaluation and Interpretation and analysis:

The analysis has been done through thematic analysis and it is helpful in gaining the deep intellect about the research report. The thematic analysis helps in segregating the responses made by the participants and analysis could be done on the basis of various themes. The description of various themes is given below:

Interpretation of customer’s responses:

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It is essential to mention that the customers who took participation into the research process mostly belong to young age category and understand the online market in well manner. They have provided their viewpoint as they have operated LIDL for the shopping purpose.

Theme 1: LIDL need to bring technological improvement.

While asking the experience about using the various online websites it has been found that presence or impression of LIDL is not so effective upon the customers. It has been found that most of the customers belong to young age people who understand the technology and they have mentioned that as compare to its competitors LIDL need to bring huge level of changes within their technological aspects and website is also required to maintain on the regular basis. Further the shopping experience includes that the LIDL has to increase the range of products as well. Thus these are certain aspects that have been interpreted effectively. The respondents provided the fact that the company need to bring improvement in their navigation facilities as well as the delivery of products is also required to be done on time. These are certain aspects which demand huge level of improvements. Thus the scope of improvement in customer services is very huge in LIDL. Currently company is not able to capitalize their potential and market share as the level of satisfaction is very low. Theme 2: The customer relationship management of company is quiet effective.

Now it is another factor which is in favor of organization. It has been found through analysis process that the customer relationship management strategies of company is quiet effective and appreciable. They are able to create interest among the customers and successfully bring them towards the website. The loyalty programs are effective and result oriented. Further it has also found that the company is able to disseminate the information about offers on time which is another very crucial element for the purpose of improving the customer relationship management. Here the use of communication is very effective as they have good communication mix with respect to informing the people about lucrative offers. Thus it could be interpreted that it is one of the major strengths of cited organization is that they understand their customers and their needs but above aspect suggest that the operational errors is creating trouble in improving the satisfaction level of customers. Both the aspects suggested by the customers gains huge consideration as the analysis of respondents indicates towards the potential of LIDL thus the expectations are high but company is not delivering as per the perception and expectation level of customers.

Interpretation of staff’s responses:

Here the 2 staff people have been taken into consideration to get actual efforts made by company to improve their customer service. Further the responses have been registered by the managers as well so that the level of business operations towards the improvement in customer services could be analyzed.

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Theme 1: Company is dedicated to ensure the delivery of satisfactory customer services.

It is clear that the staff people have ensured that the LIDL is making all the efforts that can help them in meeting out the expectations of customers. The staff people also corroborate with the fact that there customer relationship management strategies are highly effective and the company is making well use of these effectiveness in improving the customer services. The website has been designed in very convenient manner so that the product could be searched in easiest way. The navigation facilities are effective. The organization is working highly ethically as they describe the details of product in such a way so that the customers can take their decision in appropriate manner. As per the view point of staff people currently LIDL is dedicated to expand their business in other continents and in international market so they are increasing their capacity to satisfy their customers and improving the service quality. The staff people have provided the fact that the company believes in making the connections with customer both post purchase and pre purchase phases. They are dedicated to ensure that even after the sale process the customers should be able to convey their problems if they are facing with the product or item. Thus it is one of the major prioritized elements by the cited organization.

Theme 2: There is direct relationship between business operations and customer services.

In responses to particular question it has been found that the business operations have huge impact at the customer service level and it just affects the customer experience at very large scale. The manager provided the fact that operational errors should be removed within the organization else the problems and challenges could be faced on the ground of dealing with the customers and excellent service quality couldn’t be maintained. The operations like order processing phases, speed of responding the customer queries, transferring the details form one level to another, managing the inventory and supply chain, marketing etc. these all are the major operational activities that determines the success of company and enable any online retailer to put positive impression on the customers. The convenience and ease could be provided to customers. Thus managers have corroborated with the fact that there is positive relationship between business operations and customer services.

Theme 3: There are various advantages of customer service

The managers have agreed upon the fact that with the perspective of LIDL the customer service has huge significant results. The company can get the leverage of positive brand value and excellent service quality in international market. It can further help in gaining the competitive advantage and trust level of customers. The market share could be increased. With respect to LIDL the manager said that more than customer retention and loyalty the customer acquisition could be the more positive result. The number of people associated with the brand could be high and most importantly the manufacturers could place their product on LIDL’s website. Further the continuity of excellent services can automatically result in customer retention and loyalty. Thus in analysis process it has been found that managers of LIDL are moreover focusing upon increasing the competitive advantage in international market and acquiring the new customers. The profitability has also gained huge consideration by the manager and staff people.

Hence these are certain responses gathered and interpreted by the researcher and it provides the clear scenario about LIDL’s service quality.

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Recommendations:

After identifying the above issues and challenges it is clear that the LIDL need to follow certain activities that can help in improving their business operations and level of service quality could also improved at very large scale. The description of recommendations is given below:

The first and foremost recommendation is the LIDL need to ensure the departmental integration. The marketing department and operations department should work with each another. The higher authorities need to ensure that operations and IT department both must align with each another so that the customer may get proper services. The communication mix is required to be highly effective. Internally as well externally the communication should be proper and information must be disseminated in an appropriate manner. This recommendation is highly effective as it helps on the ground of generating the positive results in understanding the customer needs.

The list of recommendations include that the LIDL should focus on technological advancement in each and every aspect of their business. However it seems to be highly expensive factor for the company but in long run it could generate yielding results. The LIDL needs to be effective and proper in way of implementing the technological aspects within their organization. The technology can enable the organization to focus on delivering the excellent customer services and most importantly the competitive edge could be gained. Thus these are certain recommendations which are required to be followed by the cited organization.

Conclusion:

On the basis of above report it can be concluded that the preparation of research report is highly learning activity. Here the knowledge has been gained with respect to customer services and the role of business operations. It has been found that the business operations need to be managed or controlled properly so that leverage could be transferred to customers and in return company gat maximum benefits. Ahead the research report related knowledge has also developed into the currents scenario. It becomes clear that without stating the aims and objectives it is impossible to conduct the study in an appropriate manner. Thus the research report should be constructed in order to get highest academic learning on any subject matter.


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