Ouparamai, W 2009. 'High-speed internet service providers in Thailand: customer selection, satisfaction and loyalty', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Copyright W Ouparamai 2009
High-speed internet or broadband internet, typically contrasted with dial-up access over a modem, is now an important access option for internet users for both work and everyday usage. As a result, the availability of high speed internet access is considered by international organisations to be a key to enhance levels of competitiveness and to sustain economic growth for many countries (Paltridge 2001, 2002). For high-speed internet providers to understand their consumers’ decision-making processes, it is essential that they understand the critical factors that influence the selection of a service provider as well as the drivers of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. These issues are critical to the long-term business success for any service provider (Anderson, Fornell & Lehmann 1994; Bettman & Park 1980; Churchill & Surprenant 1982; Cronin & Taylor 1994; Dick & Basu 1994; Dorsch, Grove & Darden 2000; Grace & O'Cass 2003; Murray 1991; Parasuraman, Zeithaml & Berry 1988). Existing research in the telecommunications industry has already shown that service providers who satisfy customers and encourage their customers to become loyal can expect higher market shares and greater profitability (Finkelman, Cetlin & Wenner 1992; Khatibi, Ismail & Thyagarajan 2002; Wang, Lo & Yang 2004). The high-speed internet market in Thailand has been in the growth stage in the past 2–3 years and it is likely to continuously expand (Lih 2008; Thai National Statistical Office 2008). All high-speed internet providers now need to create marketing strategies to enhance their competitive level and expand their customer base. This research, therefore, explores the links between three main areas of the household high speed internet market in Thailand. In order to do so, it explores the following research questions:
1. What are the factors that influence customers’ selection of high-speed internet service providers in Thailand?
2. What are the factors that influence customer satisfaction with high-speed internet service in Thailand?
3. What are the factors that influence customer loyalty to high-speed internet service providers in Thailand?
Based on the literature reviewed in the thesis, a theoretical framework was established which proposes that in the Thai high-speed internet market, consumers’ selection of a service provider will be influenced by the perceived risks associated with using that provider, the types of information searches conducted when searching for a service provider, and the corporate image of the service provider. Once a service provider has been selected, customer satisfaction will be influenced by the users’ perception of service quality in terms of tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy, and network quality. Finally, customer loyalty is likely to be influenced by trust in the service provider, switching costs associated with changing providers, perceived value gained from the service, corporate image, and level of satisfaction with the service.
A quantitative method via questionnaire survey was used to obtain the views of approximately 300 Thai internet users regarding their opinions and perceptions about choosing and staying with their high-speed internet providers. The target population for this study was defined as individuals who had high-speed internet access at home. A 7–point scale was used to assess a range of relevant questions. The data analysis in this study was undertaken via Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 12. Multiple regression analysis was used to investigate the relationships between dependent variables and independent variables.
The findings of this research determined that in order to gain new customers and retain existing ones, high speed internet providers need to take into consideration three main areas: (1) customers’ selection or customer decision making; (2) customer satisfaction; and (3) customer loyalty. Firstly, in order to secure new customers, the company’s corporate image is critical to the consumer decision-making process. Other critical and significant factors found to influence the selection process are the type of information provided by the service provider and the degree of risk perceived by the consumer in terms of the potential for their time and money to be wasted if a poor service provider is chosen.
With regards to ensuring customer satisfaction, there are four underlying factors that service providers must focus on. Firstly, the quality of the internet network is the most critical factor. This is followed by the less tangible components of service such as staff empathy for the customer, the reliability of the service, and the level of assurance given to the customer by service provider staff.
In terms of long-term customer loyalty, the research shows there are four key issues that service providers must consider to maintain good business relationships with their existing customers. These four important issues are customer satisfaction, corporate image, perceived value, and trust.
The results of this research are important, not only to high-speed service providers, but also to customers and the broader community. For high-speed internet service providers, this research will explore the underlying factors as well as provide information on any improvements necessary to ensure and enhance customer’s selection, satisfaction, and loyalty. For customers and the broader community, the findings will improve the competitiveness levels of high speed internet providers. These findings can also increase the levels of competition for the high-speed internet industry in Thailand. As a result, customers will have more choices in selecting the service that best suits their needs. In addition, the expansion of high-speed internet services to cover wider areas will be beneficial for the nation and broader community since high-speed internet is a telecommunication service that can promote both economic and social development of a nation (Oh, Ahn & Kim 2003).