In this chapter the researcher gives a synopsis of the study. This research seeks to explore more on whether clients are being satisfied by legal aid cover provided by Golden Knot in serving its purpose under legal aid insurance. Also discussed in this chapter is the background of the study which is complimented by the research problem, objectives of the research, research questions and justifications of the study.
1.2 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Golden Knot Legal Aid Society was established in April 2005 through a Notarial Deed of trust, for the purpose of promoting awareness and assisting members of the Society get affordable legal services. The Society is a subsidiary of the Golden Knot Group. The Society has various objectives and activities which include the creation of a capital reserve which is used by the members whenever the need of the services of a lawyer arises. The Trust is managed by a Board of Trustees with diverse competencies which are relevant for the growth of the Society. The Golden Knot Group was established initially as a legal aid Society but has grown to become a diversified services entity with interests in Legal Insurance, Funeral Assurance, Funeral Services Debt Collection, Micro Finance, Trust and Legacy Services. The legal aid products are reinsured through ZB Re (www.goldenknot.co.zw accessed on 8 March , 2018).
The service industry has become very competitive and customers are increasinglybecoming specific on the service delivery quality. Every organization is therefore keen on demonstratingthat the services they are offering are customer-focused and that servicedelivery qualityis being conveyed (Shahin&Samea, 2010). Same applies to the provision of legal aid cover, it is important for legal aid insurance companies to satisfy their clients through the provision of good service.As a counter measure,most organizations have been revisingand institutingstrategies to satisfy clientsand achieve consumerdelight (Kotler, 2006). From mere observation during my work related learning at Golden Knot, highlypleasedcustomers are most likely to re-purchase and even commenda service/productto friends and family than a clientwho isonlyjust satisfied. MrChitemba wrote in the Sunday Mail of 17 August 2014 that it is poor service delivery that leaves clients unsatisfied with their legal aid cover as unscrupulous legal aid companies are duping clients of their hard –earned cash by failing to provide services paid for (www.sundaymail.co.zw accessed on 8 March 20, 2018).
For a customer to be satisfied in the insurance industry there is need for the insurance companies to meet the ever rising demands of customers (Karanja, 2013). The Zimbabwe Law Society has thus blasted misrepresenting Legal Aid firms. LSZ president Mr. Lloyd Mhishi said they had received numerous reports from legal aid society’s clients and the regulatory body was conducting investigations into the matters reported. “It is a deplorable fact to note that trained professionals are clandestinely forming trusts and fleecing innocent citizens of their hard-earned money.” A disgruntled client Ms Angeline Sibanda said she had a case at the courts and sought assistance from Golden knot but they failed to avail the due services and began to refer her to one lawyer to the other until she opted out of the plan (www.sundaymail.co.zwaccessed on 7 March 2018)
According to the Sunday Mail of 3 August 2016, the contentious issue is that clients cannot choose the lawyer they want and are arbitrarily assigned representation. Mr. Paul Nyoni highlighted that a major challenge was that of not being given an opportunity to choose a lawyer of your choice as compared to medical aid societies which grant you the right to seek treatment from a doctor of your choice as long as you are paid-up. In most cases one is assigned average lawyer thereby diminishing hopes of winning the court case (www.sundaymail.co.zwaccessed on 7 March 2018). It is as a result of such complains encountered that entails poor service delivery by legal aid firms.
From my observation during work related learning at Golden Knot, they have limits on the hourly rate that they pay their panel solicitors. Due to this limit, in the event of a complex case arising requiring specialist lawyers in the certain field, it will be difficult to engage them as these charge higher fees due to their higher level of expertise. These specialists may have higher hourly rates which in most cases do not match the society’s hourly rate. This leaves the client with no choice but to stick to the solicitor appointed by the Society which in most cases results in lost cases of clients as the lawyer appointed may not be well versed with the specific case which results in client dissatisfaction.
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Against the above background, are people being satisfied by the provision of legal aid cover in serving its purpose under legal expenses insurance?
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
(a) What are the challenges being encountered by clients in the provision of legal aid cover?
(b) What measures can be taken to improve service delivery in the provision of legal aid cover?
(c) What should be improved by Golden Knot Legal Aid Society to ensure good and quality service delivery in providing legal aid insurance to clients?
(d) What expectations does customer have on Golden Knot’s service quality to become satisfied?
1.5 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
(a) To identify and analyze the sources of complains and disputes in the provision of legal aid cover.
(b) To examine the adequacy of legal aid cover being provided to clients by legal aid companies and whether people are being satisfied by legal aid cover in serving its purpose under legal expenses insurance.
(c) To ascertain the measures which Legal Aid Insurance companies can take to improve service delivery in the legal insurance sector.
(d) To evaluate the effectiveness of Legal aid cover in serving its purpose under legal expenses insurance.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The study is important to the following stakeholders:
(a) The researcher
The research is being carried out in partial fulfillment of the Bachelor of Commerce in Insurance and Risk Management Honors Degree at Midlands State University and also the research will broaden the researcher’s understanding on the area under scrutiny.
(b) To the University
The research will be deposited in the University library and will provide reference material for other researchers on the same field of study.
(c) To Insurance companies
The research might also be used by legal aid firms especially Golden Knot to strategize in an effort to improve service delivery to their existing and prospective clients.
1.7 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The research will be conducted over a period of 3 months from February 218 to April 2018. Although there are several companies which offer legal aid cover, only Golden Knot will be sampled. The application of the results may however be applied to all organizations within the industry, especially those that will have access to and see the value in the recommendations that the researcher will make based on the findings of the research.
1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The following limitations may affect the depth of the study:
(a) Information Access- some of the information may be considered private and confidential by the company hence the researcher may have no privilege to such information.
(b) Time- the time available is limited due to the short period of research.
(c) The research’s main focus is on Golden Knot only and the findings may not be used to generalize the actions of all legal aid societies. This may leave a gap which may be used for further research.
This chapter introduce the research topic, gave background to study, research questions and objectives. Significance of the study was highlighted as well as the delimitations and limitations of the study.
This chapter encompasses reviews of literature written by other researchers on the subject under study. Literature review is defined as the objective evaluation of a topic and situation using literature that was done by others in a related area (Dawidowicz, 2010). Hence under this chapter published material from authors across the globe will be looked at. For the purposes of this research sources which include textbooks, internet, journals, newspapers and dissertations were consulted. Reviewing related literature and empirical evidence enables the identification of gaps in the research area thus further justifying the research.
2.2 The Definition of Legal Aid Insurance
Goodstone (1999) defines legal expense insurance as a means of financing unpredictable legal costs by spreading the risk of liability among subscribers to a scheme, thereby reducing the cost to each. Policies tend to provide cover for unforeseeable legal events. Policies are mainly sold on an individual or add-on basis, but may also be sold to a group. Legal protection insurance (LPI), also known as legal expenses insurance (LEI) or simply legal insurance, is a particular class of insurance which facilitates access to justice by providing legal advice and covering legal costs of a disputes, regardless of whether the case is brought by or against the policyholder. Depending on the national rules, legal protection insurers can also represent the policyholder out-of-court or even in-court.
According to Legal Aid Act Chapter 7:16, Legal aid is a service set to provide for the granting of legal services to indigent persons; to provide for the establishment and functions of a Legal Aid Directorate and a Legal Aid fund; to provide for the for the imposition of levies on legal practitioners for the benefit of the Legal Aid Fund. Velthoven and Haarhuis (Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2011) assert that legal aid cover as an insurance policy when granted it gives the policyholder authority to demand cover, thereby enabling him or her to obtain legal aid services within the terms of the policy wording.
Legal Aid Insurance is a voluntary private insurance that covers the costs incurred from lawsuits; it is also known as legal cost insurance or legal protection insurance (Kilian, 2003). It comes in the form of group and single service schemes that usually offer free consultations and discounts on legal services to members or member that sponsor the plans. The policyholders pay premium for summary legal advice, legal information, legal assistance and legal representation in certain defined situations, according to terms outlined in their policies.
According to Araujo (2017) Legal insurance coverage is like having a lawyer on call at all times, without having to pay the hourly lawyer fees out of your pocket.The concept of this coverage is just like any other insurance: you purchase it in advance, before an incident happens, so that if you need the coverage (legal advice or services) in the future, you can access the service in exchange for the premiums you’ve been paying.Life’s eventualities can be so devastating with far reaching consequences. What may start as a simple matter might end up creating civil or criminal litigation, such situations are inevitable that one can never say never. In most cases when they occur one is less prepared to deal with them financially. In short Legal expenses insurance or legal aid cover bridges the gap and ensure that every citizen’s right to legal representation as enshrined in the constitution is guaranteed.
Legal Aid cover is purchased to fund the costs of legal advice and/or the cost of bringing or defending a court case (Sobers, 2016). Legal expenses insurance can be bought prior to the event or after the event. Legal protection insurers cover the costs (e.g. legal fees and expenses of a lawyer) incurred in case of an unforeseen legal matter. These costs usually include lawyer and court fees, witness expenses, translation costs or expert fees. Depending on national law, legal protection insurers also provide legal services and represent policyholders out-of-court or in-court. The policyholder is usually protected for disputes in several areas of law such as contract, labour, consumer and family law (in rare cases including divorce). The premium is generally paid on an annual basis.
LEI is insurance which covers the potential costs of legal action bought by or against the insured. A policy will: Cover the cost of legal advice and bringing or defending a court case – it does not cover the amount of damages that may be awarded in court, nor the liability to pay damages to others (www.abbeylegal.com).As with every type of insurance, there are many different policies on the market and the cover, exclusions and limitations vary with each one (Goodstone, 1999). Brokers and insurers must work with the buyer to make sure they understand what these are, especially if they are buying LEI for the first time or don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the insurance market.
Legal expenses insurance is also further defined as an insurance policy that provides coverage for expenses that a business or an individual may incur from lawsuits. Business legal expense insurance is likely to be purchased by larger companies that face a real threat of lawsuits, such as wrongful termination claims and financial audits. It is designed to protect costs stemming from lawsuits brought by third parties, but may also cover costs associated with lawsuits that the insured pursues against third parties(www.investopedia.com). From claiming against a negligent driver to helping resolve an employment dispute, legal expenses insurance offers a lot for a relatively small price. The cost of taking legal action can be prohibitive. If you’d struggle financially to claim compensation following an accident, unfair dismissal from work or a dispute with a tradesman, legal expenses insurance (LEI) could help you cover the cost of making a claim (Sobers, 2016).
2.2 History of Legal Aid Cover
Sobers (2016) asserts that previously people used to attend their legal expenses through money out of their savings but then cost of defending or pursuing a court claim would run into tens of thousands of dollars and as such wipe out the savings reserved for litigation. Furthermore there was legal aid which merely assisted people through providing advice and legal representation for some civil cases but would not cover personal injury, and getting it will depend, in part, on your financial circumstances. People also use trade unions, especially those that would encounter employment cases. Members of a union would have access to legal assistance for all manner of claims, including employment issues and personal injury. This however would be aligned to members only and those not in the union would lose their cases due to no representation.
As the economy of Zimbabwe grows and strengthens, more and more, people will get involved in economic activities and consequently rights may get infringed and people will want to seek recourse in the courts of law (Mangwende, 2012). It is unfortunate that the hour of need comes when one is least prepared for the financial obligations that go with enforcing one’s rights.Even in private life, there are many situations that arise which warrant people to seek peace at the courts and it is this gap which Legal Aid insurance seeks to cover. Legal Aid Insurance was crafted to enable the majority of Zimbabweans afford legal representation. The product is intended to cover any Zimbabwean resident who has attained the legal age of majority
Legal protection insurance has a 100-year history. The concept originated in 1911 when members of the ‘Automobile Club de l’Ouest’ were offered several additional services among which protection in case of fines or for disputes in front of police courts. This basic legal protection was then extended to traffic accidents and gave rise to the first legal protection insurance policy in France offered by ‘La Défense Automobile et Sportive (DAS)’ which was founded in 1917. ‘La Défense Automobile et Sportive (DAS)’ offered legal services and coverage of expenses for legal prosecution to car drivers and athletes.
Like selling any other insurance product in Zimbabwe,convincing potential consumers of the benefits of legal expense insurance was a major challenge for LEI, which marketed policies through brokers, agents and LEI staff (Makanda, 2012). Potential consumers largely failed to perceive the benefits of purchasing legal expense insurance. Brokers and agents lacked familiarity with the product and did not promote it strongly. The public’s perception of the general availability of legal aid resulted in there being reduced interest in LEI. It was difficult to sell legal expense insurance to employers as an employee benefit in tight economic times and in the absence of any financial incentive.
Legal expenses insurance (LEI) has always been a special and particular branch of the insurance industry. Up until the Second World War, it developed slowly, keeping pace with the demands of society. Then, however, in certain countries at least, it experienced a period of spectacular growth. LEI is distinguished from other branches of insurance mainly by the fact that it covers not only a financial benefit but also the provision of services. It has been a long and arduous task to put this notion across to the public, to gain the acceptance of the traditional insurers and to obtain recognition from the legal profession and the judicial authorities (Plattner, 2002).
In 1928, a motoring club in Germany called the ‘Deutsche AutomobilSchutz’ (D.A.S.) increased membership contributions to create a similar pool to pay for the defence of its members charged with traffic related offences. Members of the general public then enquired about joining the scheme. That is when the idea of insurance available to the general public became firmly established. At present, D.A.S. Germany is still the largest legal protection insurer in the world, followed by ARAG, another German insurer. Legal protection insurance is today well established in Europe and has been developing beyond. The German market alone has 36% market share worldwide, followed by France with 12%. The European market represents more than 80% of the global legal protection insurance market.
2.3Types of Legal Aid Cover
There are basically two types of legal aid cover namely ‘before the event policy’ and ‘after the event policy’.
2.3.1 Before the event policy
Mitchell (2017) defines ‘Before the Event’ legal expenses as an insurance policy which is bought to cover legal costs associated with different legal scenarios. These can include employment disputes, personal injury and medical negligence.BTE is a type of legal expenses insurance which is available in the event that you require legal advice, such as during a dispute with a tradesman, issues at work or even in the event of a professional negligence claim. BTE will cover the cost of that advice (Hothi, 2014).
Before-the-event insurance (BTE insurance) is insurance which the insured has already purchasedprior to the prospect of any legal claim arising; and may cover some or all of the insured’s potentialcosts liabilities in any subsequent proceedings (including own-side and adverse costs); and whichcosts are not insured under any other policy of insurance. For cover to be available in most cases therewill be a requirement that sufficient prospects of prosecuting or defending the claim exists. According to Hothi (2014) BTE is not, and is not designed to be, a substitute for legal aid, following recent orhistoric reductions in legal aid scope and eligibility. However, it offers large numbers of people accessto significant assistance, including via legal help lines (and, less commonly, legal websites) which mayhelp to nip legal concerns and issues ‘in the bud’ prior to the commencement of any legal proceedings,and by managing the risk of the BTE Insured’s claim or exposure to claim.
2.3.2 After the event policy
According to Gates (2015), after the event (“ATE”) insurance is a type of commercially available insurance policy which provides coverage for legal costs, subject to an agreed limit of indemnity. It can be used as a tool by which a party to litigation or arbitration may limit its liability for the opposing party’s legal costs in the event that it is unsuccessful in its case.Rather than let costly legal expenses derail your finances, you can purchase after the event insurance. It pays for all costs related to defending yourself in court, or costs for commencing a lawsuit. The “event” is the lawsuit itself, or an event that is likely to result in a court battle, such as a car accident. You pay the insurance premium after the lawsuit is initiated or at the close of the case, which in turn pays for your legal costs (www.finweb.com).
After the event policies insure legal actions relating to events that have already happened. These policies are generally appropriate where there is no before the event cover or if the policy has been exhausted. The policies are taken out to support a conditional fee agreement between a client and a solicitor implying that the solicitor will charge a fee higher than usual. After the event policies are usually taken out around the time that the legal action begins and they can involve a large premium. The premium can be a recoverable legal cost (http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk).
After the Event insurance policies normally cover the legal costs which a Claimant must pay to a defendant when a claim is unsuccessful – when the claim is either lost at trial, or abandoned/settled after the defendant has incurred costs which the claimant is liable to pay.ATE Insurance is purchased after an accident (“The Event”) has taken place, but normally before any significant legal costs or disbursements are incurred, so most ATE Insurance policies are purchased at the point at which a solicitor begins a claim. The overall concept of an ATE Insurance policy is that it will protect the claimant against costs risks right from the outset – if a claim is insured at a late stage then (as with most insurance policies) costs and disbursements which occurred before the date of the After the Event Insurance policy will not normally be covered. Since, when they commence, many personal injury claims fall within a broadly similar risk category (www.boxlegal.co.uk).
2.3 Rationale for Legal Aid Cover
2.3.1 Litigation Protection
Legal Aid Insurance is an essential policy in nowadays life as mishaps happen anytime hence the need to be well prepared when uncertainty occurs. The benefits that accrue with having legal aid cover impact on individuals and business organizations.Legal disputes can disrupt any business, large or small, and the subsequent legal expenses can be costly. Legal Aid Insurance stands as a form of insurance that is there to cover one from any legal issues that may arise (Kilian,2003).
Often, businesses have to pay for these legal expenses out of pocket, which, in turn, could negatively impact their bottom lines or worse, push them into bankruptcy. Paying less for premiums than the total legal expenses for a case that may be ongoing for a year or more is quite advantageous as the premiums normally cater for the case rather than one’s own money. Therefore, the legal aid cover makes sure that in the event of an uncertainty an individual or business organization does not suffer such substantial costs. LEI is standalone insurance designed to protect policyholders from the costs and hassles of legal action brought on by or against policyholders (Dabic, 2016).
2.3.1 Income Stabilization
According to Pratt (2016) the cost of legal proceedings can be huge. So taking out legal expenses cover would prove a very worthwhile moveifyou needed to take legal action for any reason, for example following a car accident.The occurrence of litigation charges or the facing of court charges in the event of issues arising whether right or wrong have a negative effect towards one’s financial position.Furthermore, given it is a motor vehicle accident case, legal aid cover helps one to recover any excess you have to pay as a result of a crash in which you were not at fault. When an individual does not have prepaid legal aid cover it might be difficult as he or she will have to folk out money from his own pocket so as to cater for the legal services or claims arising, sometimes the claim might come when one is broke. These costs may all be absorbed when one has a standing legal aid policy as this will simply take heed of the legal proceedings.
2.3.2 Access to a Legal Helpline
Another benefit which comes as a result of purchasing legal aid insurance is that of gaining access to a legal helpline, which is staffed by attorneys and other experts. This mostly comes as an added benefit to companies which can then use this helpline to ask questions about any business-related legal matters, including tax advice. This is meant to guide policyholders through tricky situations and prevent legal trouble before it occurs as it is a valuable source of advice on legal matters.
2.3.3 Advice and representation
According to Araujo (2017) legal aid cover has the advantage of the company knowing which lawyer to appoint given a case arises. In most cases the legal aid society knows the best lawyers to appoint for specific and specialised cases from their panel of solicitors. This is so because they normally have the experience on the related cases and the chance of winning the case is high rather than having a client search for an independent lawyer who might not be well versed with the case at hand. Most legal aid societies have specific specialistlawyers in the various legal case fields and hence specifically appoint a lawyer for a client knowing that lawyer is an expertise.
2.3.4 Poverty Alleviation
In an effort to assist the poor, legal services have become handy in poverty alleviation as pro bono legal services have proved less helpful if the case is large. The premiums in legal aid insurance have since been set to protect those that also live below the poverty datum line, hence also ensuring that they are protected from those heavy litigation costs (Kilian, 2003).Other than having to pay out for legal expenses from savings, legal aid insurance comes in as a solution and as such one can hold on to your savings for other emergencies. In some countries legal aid cover helps one to recover the premiums from an opponent;if you win you can receive discounts for early case settlement.
Another benefit derived from legal aid cover is that of being cheap in costs compared to the hiring of independent lawyers who usually charge per hour and the prices are also costly.According to Sobers (2016) taking out legal aid cover is valuable, as it allows those whowould not be able to meet the high costs of pursuing a claim on their own be able to do so through the policy limit.There are also other non-insurance benefits of legal aid cover which individuals and companies can derive which includefree legal advisory-this service is offered for free by legal aid societiesafter having purchased legal aid cover.Free will writing- in the event that one wants to write a will, the society assists him free of charge on the basis of him having purchased a policy with the company.
2.4 Criticism of Legal Aid Cover
Legal aid cover like any other insurance product offered by insurance companies has been subject to great criticism. In as much as insurance companies try to deliver the service as per the contract, criticism often arise due to poor service delivery offered by the legal aid societies and encounters which clients when need or uncertainty arises.
The legal expenses complaints that we see usually – though not always – involve disputes about one or more of three issues:
2.4.1 Whether the proposed action has reasonable prospects of success;
Pratt (2016) asserts that one of the main issues with legal expenses cover is that there are no guarantees your claim will be accepted. You will, for example, only be allowed to make a claim if it is completely clear who was to blame for the accident and the insurer expects the legal action to go in your favor. According to the Financial Ombudsman legal expenses policies often give the insurer the freedom to choose which solicitors to appoint for advice and assistance at the start of the legal claim, unless there is a conflict of interest.If the insurer considers that a claim should be pursued, the normal practice is for it to be passed to an external firm of solicitors on the insurer’s panel. This firm should have knowledge of the relevant area of law – and their opinion as to the prospects of success is usually a sufficient basis for the insurer to agree (or refuse) to fund the legal claim/defence (www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk).
In some cases, we see the policyholder disputes this opinion. Insurers may repute a claim saying it has no prospect of success which might not go well with the insured as he will be seeking justice that the case be solved with the slim chance of success accompanying that claim. In this event an insured may look for suitably qualified, and comparable, lawyer – to support their view on the prospects of success of the legal action.Sometimes there may be conflicting legal opinions from two different solicitors on the prospects of success of the action. This may happen when the insurer’s panel solicitor has advised that the case does not have prospects of success but the policyholder has a legal opinion from a solicitor to the contrary (Pratt, 2016).If this happens in cases, we normally see disputes arising between the legal aid society and its client hence resulting in complaints from clients as the insurer has the overall say at the end.
According to Sobers (2016) legal expenses insurance (LEI) doesn’t operate in the same way as a dispute would if you instructed your own lawyer. Simply contacting your insurer won’t guarantee you get a lawyer to pursue your case. For a claim to be taken up, your insurer must be satisfied that you have a reasonable or better-than-average chance of winning your case at any time, not just when the claim is first raised. If new evidence comes to light, funding for your lawyer could be dropped.
Some proposed legal actions may have no reasonable prospects of success because there is, for example lack of evidence; legal obstacles, such as statutory time-bars, immunities or decided case law and no known cause of action.This does not necessarily mean that the insurer was wrong to refuse funding. The insurer can rely only on the advice and evidence available at the time. It does not have the benefit of hindsight that the policyholder and we may have when later reviewing its decision (Rutsaert, 2000).
2.4.2 The need to top-up when the claim exceeds the limit
As much as legal aid cover is cheap it also has the disadvantage of having to pay an extra amount when the claim exceeds the policy limit. Some cases may take long to settle and hence the longer the time it takes the higher the amount it consumes (Daley, 2016). This might result in exhaustion of funds in the policy limit. In this regard it legal aid cover is often criticised for that extra cost as most policy holders would want cases to be settled within their policy limit hence payment of the extra cost is seen as a disadvantage of having the policy in the first place.
2.4.3 Choice of solicitors
Legal expenses policies often give the insurer the freedom to choose which solicitors to appoint for advice and assistance at the start of the legal claim, unless there is a conflict of interest (Dabic, 2016). We sometimes see disputes where a policyholder wants to appoint their own solicitor from the start of the insurance claim (or have already instructed their own solicitor prior to making the claim). Generally, for legitimate commercial and quality-control reasons, insurers often prefer to use their solicitors from their own panel. Legal aid societies normally look at each case on its own individual merits. However, insurers are unlikely to decide that the policyholder should be able to appoint their own solicitors from the start of their insurance claim and before legal proceedings are necessary.
In extraordinary cases the insured may feel that specialist lawyers are required in a specific field hence the need for him or her choosing representation or his or her own solicitor. This is usually disputed by the insurer and hence for such cases there is usually conflict as the insured may feel that the appointed lawyer may not be doing enough to win the case and may not be a specialist in the field area.Inpractice, being compelled to use a lawyer from the insurance company’s panel, with little exercise ofchoice, at least until the claim form is issued is rather devastating (Dabic, 2016).
More so, in the event that an insurer agrees that the insured chooses his own solicitor, they are usually prepared to pay the solicitor an hourly rate they would pay their own lawyer which might be lower than what an independent solicitor would require to handle a case.Many independent legal firms may not be able to take on the work required at this rate. Daley (2016) states that would-be claimants are therefore left with either paying for their own choice of representation, the opposite of the reason why they bought LEI in the first place, or being denied the right to choose their own legal representation altogether. This is so because the insurance company will not pay anything over their agreed rate and hence for the extra amount required by an independent lawyer, the client will have to pay on their own for their choice of representation.
2.5 Service and Service Quality
A service is a valuable action, deed, or effort performed to satisfy a need or to fulfill a demand (Kotler, 2007). A service is an action or an activity which can be offered by a party to another party, which is basically intangible and cannot affect any ownership. Furthermore, Chavira (2016) defines a service as a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks. A service is also a type of economic activity that is intangible, is not stored and does not result in ownership. A service is consumed at the point of sale. Services are one of the two key components of economics, the other being goods (Zeithaml, 1985). Examples of services include insurance, the transfer of goods, such as the postal service delivering mail, and the use of expertise or experience, such as a person visiting a doctor (www.investorwords.com).
According to Zeithaml and Bitner (2003) mentioned that service quality is a focused evaluation that reflects the customer’s perception of specific dimensions of service namely reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy, tangibles.Definitions of service quality in the literature focus primarily on meeting customers’ needs and requirements and how well the delivered service meets customers’ expectations. The benefits of high service quality also go beyond economic indicators and have a positive social outcome as well, in that it improves communities’ quality of life (Dagger ; Sweeney,2006).
This is an assessment of how well a delivered service conforms to the client’s expectations. Service business operators often assess the service quality provided to their customers in order to improve their service, to quickly identify problems, and to better assess client satisfaction (www.businesdictionary.com). In services marketing, customer service is regarded as a component of marketing mix. Zeithaml and Bitner (2003) mentioned that high quality customer service is not just customer service department but all levels of management and staffs need to accept and have a state of mind regarding customer care.
Payne (1995) added that there is pressure on customer service due to competition and technological. He also stated that higher standards of service are being demanded by consumers as they are becoming more sophisticated and updated in their requirements and to them service refers as customer satisfaction, customer delight, service delivery, customer relationship, hence, to provide good service to customers, service companies need to take into consideration the important variables of service quality namely, assurance, empathy, reliability, responsiveness and tangibles. Oliver (1997) argues that service quality can be described as the result from customer comparisons between their expectations about the service they will use and their perceptions about the service company. That means that if the perceptions would be higher than the expectations the service will be considered excellent, if the expectations equal the perceptions the service is considered good and if the expectations are not met the service will be considered bad.
2.6. Service Quality Models
2.6.1 The Perceived Quality model
Grönroos (1984), states that a proper conceptualization of service quality should be customer-based. This implies that the customer’s perceptions of service quality are therefore the main feature in his service quality model and secondly, the determinants of what influence service quality are also included. The model emphasizes that the interaction between the buyer and seller in a service setting is as important as the eventual outcome. The basic principle in his model is that service quality is dependent on the comparison of two variables: the expected service from customers and the actual service as perceived by them (Grönroos, 1984). The outcome of this comparison process will then be the perceived quality of the service. There are three service dimensions in his model namely:
Technical (outcome)- this is the outcome to the consumers as a result of using the service based on their interaction with it.
Functional (process) – it looks towards the procedure used in the delivery of the service to the customers
Corporate image- this looks at how the customers view the brand.
Fig 2.1 Groonroos model
Benefits of the Groonroos Model
According to Groonroos (1984), the model will optimize the process used in the delivery of the service to make it most effective and efficient to both the customer and the firm such that there is an overall development of the service. Legal aid insurance policies can be thus altered to meet the needs of the customer as they perceive them.
2.6.2 The GAP Model
The GAP model is without a doubt the most widely used and tested method to measure customers’ perceptions of service quality (Bateson & Hoffman, 2011). The GAP modelconceptualized service quality as a gap between customers’ expectations and perceptions (Parasuraman et al., 1985).The conclusion was that there are discrepancies (gaps) between what management believes service quality constitutes and what customers believe service quality is. This set of gaps was seen as the major obstacles in attempting to deliver a service which customers perceive as being of high quality (Parasuraman et al, 1985). These gaps are illustrated in Figure 2.2 and explained below:
Fig 2.2 Gap Model of Service quality
Source: Parasuraman et al (1985)
The five gaps that organizations should measure, manage and minimize are as follows:
Gap 1(Knowledge gap) – difference between the consumers’ expectations and management perceptions.
Gap2 (Policy gap) – is between management perception and the actual specification of the customer experience – Managers need to make sure the organization is defining the level of service they believe is needed.
Gap 3 (Delivery gap)- is from the experience specification to the delivery of the experience – Managers need to audit the customer experience that their organization currently delivers in order to make sure it lives up to the specifications.
Gap 4 (Communication gap) – is the gap between the delivery of the customer experience and what is communicated to customers.
Gap 5 (Service quality gap) – is the gap between a customer’s perception of the experience and the customer’s expectation of the service – Customers’ expectations have been shaped by word of mouth, their personal needs and their own past experiences.
Benefits of the Gap Model
According to Parasuraman et al (1985) the gap model brings forth various benefits such as
Good Communication- clearer communication between the customer and the service provider such that the service delivery becomes effective. Legal aid policyholders will understand better its importance and this helps soothe service delivery towards them.
Dependability- this model helps boost the customer’s confidence to Legal aid insurance as it brings attributes such as consistency in good performance and reliability.
Competency- service providers will attain betterment of their skills and their knowledge of the customers’ needs based on the customer’s perspective will be in line with Legal aid insurance.
2.6.3 Servuction Model
This model is used to illustrate factors that influence service experience, including thosethat are visible and invisible to consumer (Hoffman and Bateson, 2006). Invisible component consists of invisible organizations and systems. It refers to the rules, regulations and processes upon which the organization is based. Although they are invisible to customers, they have a profound effect on the consumer’s service experience. The visible part consists of 3 parts namely serviscape (inanimate environment), contact personnel/ service providers and other consumers. This model is mostly used in service marketing so as to give a description of the close involvement of a customer in the service experience and production.
Fig 2.3 The Servuction model
Source: Hoffman and Bateson (2006)
Benefits of the Servuction Model
According to Hoffman and Bateson (2006) the model looks at customers as an integral part in the service process. By using this model the needs and perceptions of customers will be met by the Legal Aid insurance policy they would have taken. This model then gives room for the introduction of new policies and schemes under Legal Aid insurance as it creates a bond between the firms and policy holders. With the increment of service loyalty this will in turn increase sales and renewal of policies thereto is also boosted.
2.7 Service Failure
Service failure is simply defined as service performance that fails to meet a customer’s expectations (Shapiro, Nieman and Gonder, 2006). The severity of service failure does not matter at all even a minor mistake from the service provider can cause service failure and consequences can be worse (Lee and Park, 2010). According to Berry and Parasuraman, 1999), service failure is thus referred to as a flawed outcome that reflects a breakdown in reliability. In legal aid insurance if this happens customers then shun the company and the outcome will be a breakdown on the reliability of the legal aid policy and hence the company as a whole. Service failure is the opposite of customer satisfaction and therefore can range from bad quality to rude behavior to late delivery. These examples all result in the customer not receiving the performance that they were promised when the service was sold to them (www.whittakerassociates.com).
2.7.1 Major reasons for service failure
Strategy of the management- Management should be able to engage in proper planning and strategize company policies and operations so that every aspect of the business is well-organized to reduce the chances of service failure (www.whittakerassociates.com).
Natural instincts of employees- A large part of legal aid cover relies mostly on the employees of legal aid societies as they are the one who provide the service and interact with the customers. It is thus important that employees must be well skilled and trained to work efficiently and effectively (www.whittakerassociates.com).
Leadership quality of managers- Managers should be able to apply their leadership skills in motivating, supervising, correcting operations and actions in the organization to ensure higher customer satisfaction and minimum service failure (Hyken, 2016).
Allegations of mal administration- Consumers sometimes complain to about maladministration and delays by their insurer and/or its solicitors – in relation to legal expenses insurance. Some cases or legal action can be a lengthy, complex process – and that the parties are restricted, to a large extent, by the timetables dictated by the courts hence causing delays on part of the client in the claim being settled. In these cases, clients usually implicate mal administration of their claims by the insurers as the delays makes the claim take a long time to be settled hence inconveniencing the client at times (www.financialombudsman.co.uk)
In actual fact insurers are not responsible or accountable for the way their panelsolicitors carry out litigation on a day-to-day basis. As much as they are not liable, they have to administer the handling of the claim and cut time lags to ensure that a claim is settled in time. Since legal aid societies have their own panel of solicitors, they will have to ensure that they work in the best interest of the client hence ensure good service delivery
Failure to provide good customer service- From observation during work related learning, complaints often arose from customers citing lack of good customer services. Clients often complain when organizations take a long time to attend to their needs and as such some even complained of being hanged on the phone for a while with their enquiries being looked into. Good customer service practice has it that the customer’s time is important hence the need to value the client’s time. According to Hyken (2016) acting with urgency gives the customer a feeling of confidence.
2.8 Strategies to improve service delivery
2.8.1 Meeting expectations – The single most important driver of satisfaction in insurance organizations is that services meet expectations (Pratt, 2016). People are more likely to say that a service meets their expectations when staff listen to them, understand their circumstances and treat them as an individual, know about the services their organization offers and can help and communicate in a clear and simple way.In order to improve, services should set and monitor service standards so that staff knows what is expected of them and the public are aware of the standards they can expect to receive.
2.8.2 Competent staff –According to Hyken (2016), in order to improve, services need staff that can clearly explain processes and inform people, including speakers of other languages, of their entitlements. Competent staff knows about the services their organisation offers and can help the customer, or direct them to someone who can help, listen to and understand their customer’s circumstances, are customer focused – friendly, polite and approachable and can communicate in a clear and simple manner.
2.8.3 Keeping promises – A ‘promise’ is any undertaking or commitment made by a staff member or organization (Hertog, 2000). Keeping promises involves staffs who do what they say they will do and service standards (particularly for response times) so that staffs know what is expected of them and the public are aware of the standards they can expect to receive. In order to improve, services need a transparent and open complaints process and to ensure customers know about it. Complaints need to be investigated promptly and customers kept fully informed of the process and when they can expect a response.
2.8.4 Sound human resource policy that includes capacity building and employee motivation- Makanyeza (2013) indicates the need to have a sound human resources policy. By this a legal aid society needs to layout its human resources policy in such a way that it builds capacity thus the need to have the right people at the right job as well as proper training of employees.Services need front line staff who want to help, have good people skills and are solutions focused.Training should cover how to greet and treat customers with politeness and respect, how to determine people’s needs, how to deal with difficult customers and how to treat each customer as an individual. Employee motivation is also key to the success of a legal aid insurance company.
The chapter looked at literature review regarding the research topic with a view to established whether legal aid cover was serving its purpose under legal aid insurance in an effort to improve service delivery at Golden Knot Legal aid society. If legal expense insurance is to enhance access to justice for its clients, it must be able to provide a broad, general coverage at an affordable cost, and remain commercially viable. In the view of poor service delivery, Golden Knot Legal aid society has to complement by improving on the areas of concern as highlighted in this chapter so as to be able to satisfy the clients and enhance good business reputation through improved service delivery.
This chapter deals with how the research was conducted specifically on the design of the research, research instruments, participants and data collection procedures. The process used to collect information and data for the purpose of making business decisions. The methodology may include publication research, interviews, surveys and other research techniques, and could include both present and historical information.
3.1 Research Design
Kumar (1999) states that a research design is a strategy, plan and a structure that is there to obtain relevant solutions to research problems; its main functions are related to recognition, development and adjustment of procedures needed in the undertaking of the study. According to Van Wyk (2016) research design is the overall plan for connecting the conceptual research problems to the pertinent (and achievable) empirical research. In other words, the research design articulates what data is required, what methods are going to be used to collect and analyze this data, and how all of this is going to answer your research question. The function of a research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enables you to effectively address the research problem as unambiguously as possible. There are several types of research design and these are:
3.1.1 Experimental Design-A blueprint of the procedure that enables the researcher to maintain control over all factors that may affect the result of an experiment (Kothari, 2014). In doing this, the researcher attempts to determine or predict what may occur. Experimental Research is often used where there is time priority in a causal relationship (cause precedes effect), there is consistency in a causal relationship (a cause will always lead to the same effect), and the magnitude of the correlation is great. The classic experimental design specifies an experimental group and a control group. The independent variable is administered to the experimental group and not to the control group, and both groups are measured on the same dependent variable. Subsequent experimental designs have used more groups and more measurements over longer periods.
3.1.2 Correlational Design- is any broad of statistical relationships involving dependence, though in common usage it most often refers to how close two variables are to having a linear relationship with each other (Shields et al, 2013). Correlational research is a type of non-experimental research in which the researcher measures two variables and assesses the statistical relationship (i.e., the correlation) between them with little or no effort to control extraneous variables. In general, a correlational study is a quantitative method of research in which you have 2 or more quantitative variables from the same group of participants, & you are trying to determine if there is a relationship (or co variation) between the 2 variables (that is, a similarity in pattern of scores between the two variables, not a difference between their means) (www.capilanou.ca).This is often used where researchers do not believe that the statistical relationship is a causal one.
3.1.3Explorative design- According to Bell (1999) this seeks to generate a posteriori hypothesis by examining a data-set and looking for potential relations between variables. An exploratory design is conducted about a research problem when there are few or no earlier studies to refer to or rely upon to predict an outcome (Mahammad, 2013). The focus is on gaining insights and familiarity for later investigation or undertaken when research problems are in a preliminary stage of investigation. Exploratory designs are often used to establish an understanding of how best to proceed in studying an issue or what methodology would effectively apply to gathering information about the issue. It is also possible to have an idea about a relation between variables but to lack knowledge of the direction and strength of the relation. If the researcher does not have any specific hypotheses beforehand, the study is exploratory with respect to the variables in question (although it might be confirmatory for others). The advantage of exploratory research is that it is easier to make new discoveries due to the less stringent methodological restrictions (Mohammad, 2013). Here, the researcher does not want to miss a potentially interesting relation and therefore aims to minimize the probability of rejecting a real effect or relation.
3.1.4 Case Study Design-A case study is an in-depth study of a particular research problem rather than a sweeping statistical survey or comprehensive comparative inquiry (Anastas and Jeane, 1999). It is often used to narrow down a very broad field of research into one or a few easily researchable examples. The case study research design is also useful for testing whether a specific theory and model actually applies to phenomena in the real world. It is a useful design when not much is known about an issue or phenomenon. Gerring (2004) states that this approach excels at bringing us to an understanding of a complex issue through detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships. A researcher using a case study design can apply a variety of methodologies and rely on a variety of sources to investigate a research problem. The researcher used this research design as it can also extend experience or add strength to what is already known through previous research.
3.1.5 Longitudinal Design- A longitudinal study follows the same sample over time and makes repeated observations. For example, with longitudinal surveys, the same group of people is interviewed at regular intervals, enabling researchers to track changes over time and to relate them to variables that might explain why the changes occur (Ployhart et al, 2002). Longitudinal research designs describe patterns of change and help establish the direction and magnitude of causal relationships. Measurements are taken on each variable over two or more distinct time periods. This allows the researcher to measure change in variables over time. It is a type of observational study sometimes referred to as a panel study. Anastas and Jean (1999) states that longitudinal data facilitate the analysis of the duration of a particular phenomenon and also enable survey researchers to get close to the kinds of causal explanations usually attainable only with experiments.
3.1.6 Historical Design- According to Howel et al (2001), the purpose of a historical research design is to collect, verify, and synthesize evidence from the past to establish facts that defend or refute a hypothesis. It uses secondary sources and a variety of primary documentary evidence, such as, diaries, official records, reports, archives, and non-textual information (maps, pictures, audio and visual recordings). The limitation is that the sources must be both authentic and valid. Gall (2007) further asserts that the historical research design is unobtrusive meaning that the act of research does not affect the results of the study and also the historical approach is well suited for trend analysis.
3.2 Study Population
Study population is also known as a well-defined collection of individuals or objects known to have similar characteristics (Sekaram, 1997). All individuals or objects within a certain population usually have a common, binding characteristic or trait. The study population should be defined in advance, stating unambiguous inclusion (eligibility) criteria. The study population of the researcher is 40 employees and management staff of Golden Knot Legal Aid Society.
3.3 Target Population
According to Lavrakas (2008) target population is a survey of the whole set of units for which the survey data is to be used to make inferences, therefore the findings of the survey are meant to generalize. Population redefined is the selected individuals’ that the research study will be taken from so as to attain a representative sample (Cooper and Schindler, 2000). The target population of the researcher is 13 employees which include 5 from the marketing department, 3from top management and 5 from human resources management of Golden Knot.
3.4 Sampling and sampling technique
According to Adams (2007) sampling is the process of selection of an appropriate sample so as to establish the characteristic of the stated population being studied.
3.4.1 Random sampling method
Random sampling carries out four methods of sampling which are:
Simple random sampling- According to Allison (2011) simple random sampling is when each element of the population under research study has an equal chance of being selected. It is also the most popular method for choosing a sample among population for a wide range of purposes. In simple random sampling each member of population is equally likely to be chosen as part of the sample and it has been stated that the logic behind simple random sampling is that it removes bias from the selection procedure and should result in representative samples (Langdridge, 2004).
Systematic sampling- Boagie (2009) states that this is when elements from the population are chosen in uniformity interval measured through time, space and order. With systematic random sampling, we create a list of every member of the population. From the list, we randomly select the first sample element from the first k elements on the population list.
Cluster sampling- is the division of the population into clusters with each individual in containment under a range of characteristics. The clusters are picked at random (Robson, 2013). With cluster sampling, every member of the population is assigned to one, and only one, group. Each group is called a cluster. A sample of clusters is chosen, using a probability method (often simple random sampling). Only individuals within sampled clusters are surveyed. Cluster sampling is more convenient when the population is very large or spread over large geographical area.
Stratified sampling- According to Gray (2003) this is a proportionally represented random sample based on certain noticeable groups or sub-groups selected from a strata list. With stratified sampling, the population is divided into groups, based on some characteristic. Then, within each group, a probability sample (often a simple random sample) is selected.
3.4.2 Non-random sampling
The four non-random sampling methods are:
Snowball Sampling- This is where the researcher selects the first samples and either takes them up or asks for recommendations from them for other subjects that better fit the criteria or samples required (Langdridge, 2004). Snowball sampling is particularly appropriate when the population you are interested in is hidden and/or hard-to-reach. Snowball sampling is usually done when there is a very small population size. In this type of sampling, the researcher asks the initial subject to identify another potential subject who also meets the criteria of the research. The downside of using a snowball sample is that it is hardly representative of the population (Rawat, 2012).
Quota sampling- this is a non-probability sampling technique wherein the researcher ensures equal or proportionate representation of subjects depending on which trait is considered as basis of the quota (Rawat, 2012). According to Langdridge (2004) samples are selected based on the pre-specified features such that sum sample has equal distribution of features anticipated to exist in the research population. With proportional quota sampling, the aim is to end up with a sample where the strata (groups) being studied are proportional to the population being studied.
Convenient or opportunity sampling- is when the sample is made from easy access to data by the researcher. A convenience sample is simply one where the units that are selected for inclusion in the sample are the easiest to access. With convenience sampling, the samples are selected because they are accessible to the researcher (Rawat, 2012). This technique is considered easiest, cheapest and least time consuming.
Judgmental or Purposive sampling- includes elements selected on them being representatives of the sample population based on knowledge of the population (Gray, 2003). This is a method in statistics and quantitative research for non-randomly selecting subjects for study from a population by selecting. Judgmental sampling design is usually used when a limited number of individuals possess the trait of interest. It is the only viable sampling technique in obtaining information from a very specific group of people (Allison, 2000). It is also possible to use judgmental sampling if the researcher knows a reliable professional or authority that he thinks is capable of assembling a representative sample. According to Rawat (2012) the different purposive sampling techniques can either be used on their own or in combination with other purposive sampling techniques. In judgmental sampling, an expert hand-picks units for study according to their perceived usefulness to the research. The researcher used this sampling method.
Justification of using Judgmental Sampling
The researcher used this sampling method because it includes elements selected on them being representatives of the sample population based on knowledge of the population hence employees and management of Golden knot where deemed fit with this technique for the purposes of this research. This method is also useful when some members of a population make better subjects than others thus its use by the researcher.
3.5 Sample size
Allison et al (2000) states that a sample size is a group of subjects from whom the research data is collected. Haralambos and Holborn (1990) also suggest that at least 33% of the population must be used as a sample especially when the target population is very small. The researcher used the 33% interval and came up with 13 employees as the sample size for the purpose of this research.
3.6Sources of Data
3.6.1 Primary data
Shajaham (2005) defined primary data as information collected or generated by the researcher for the purpose of the project immediately at hand. Data was collected using surveys, interviews and questionnaires.
According to McLeod (2018) a questionnaire is a research instrument consisting of a series of questions for the purpose of gathering information from respondents. The researcher used questionnaires in the collection of data. Two self-administered questionnaires were designed i.e. one for the employees and the other for service users so as to capture the views of both the employees and service users. Questionnaires were conveniently distributed to 20 employees and management staff of Golden Knot Legal Aid Society. The questionnaires were distributed via pick and drop and others were sent via email.
They void interview bias because questions are often more willingly responded to as the respondent is not facing the interviewer. There is also provision of confidentiality of respondents thus giving assurance of their answers to be true. Questionnaires are also cheap to administer and easy in usage as they come with closed end questions to guide the one questioned.
The major shortfall for questionnaires is that the targeted respondents may not complete the questionnaire for instance a busy manager may delegate to a personal assistant to complete on their behalf. Open end questions can generate large amount of data that can take longer time to process and analyze. Other useful aspects such as respondents’ gestures and facial expressions cannot be observed which are also useful to effectively evaluate responses.
According to Harper (1991), an interview is method of collecting data asking personally for the required information. This technique involved the asking of oral questions to the respondents hence some employees and clients of Golden Knot were interviewed. The researcher obtained accurate and reliable information from the respondents because there was room for them to ask whenever they did not understand the questions.
With interviews, material that need to be shown to respondents can be properly presented hence enabling supplementary information. Face to face interviews allows for any misunderstandings to be cleared instantly hence clarification of matters. Interviews also take into consideration more engaged dialogue and subsequently the analyst has the opportunity to reward a few enquiries empowering the researcher to get as much data as possible.
Interviews are time consuming and expensive as the researcher will have to travel during interview sessions.
The researcher also made use of a site visit, observing clients and employees’ interaction at Golden Knot as well as taking note of the areas under scrutiny with special attention to the customer services department. This gave the researcher the chance to have the immediate contact with the general population in spite of the fact that there were no questions asked.
(a) It is simple to conduct as the researcher will be just noting what he/ she will be seeing as far as safety and health is concerned.
(b) There is greater accuracy of the information as the researcher will rely on what he will be seeing unlike on interviews and questionnaires where the researcher will rely on the second hand information.
(c) It is independent of other peoples’ willingness to offload the information.
(a) Some of the occurrences may not be open to personal observations.
(b) Some of the occurrence may not happen at the time where the researcher is at the site.
(c) It is subjected to personal bias since the researcher may not believe some of the things they saw and may have a wrong evaluation of what they saw.
3.6.2 Secondary data
Shajahan (2005) defined secondary data as information that has been collected by someone other than the researcher for the purpose other than those involved in the research project at hand. The researcher made use of secondary information for the purpose of his explorative research mainly on literature review. Reference books, text books, journals, newspapers and research papers were the main source of secondary information. Usage of such material was easy to incorporate into the context of the study. In most instances, data had already been presented in tables and other presentation techniques that could also be adapted for present usage. Additionally, their usage was employed in questionnaire development and interview structuring.
(a) It is less time consuming since the data will be readily available.
(b) It is less costly because the records will be easily accessible and some reports may be found on internet.
(c) Provide a good background, as it is existing literature around the topic.
(d) Facilitate appropriate scoping of the later stages of the site investigation.
(e) It also reduced wastage on inappropriate intrusive ground investigations
(a) The researcher may not understand some of the terms and language which might be used in the reports.
(b) Lack of control over the quality of the data where government and other institutions like the Standard Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) are often the guarantee of the quality data.
This chapter gave a detailed description of the research methodology employed to provide the overall strategy for answering research questions for this project. It highlighted the tools and techniques used in both primary and secondary data collections. The next chapter builds up on this basis, analyzing and presenting in a systematic form the findings of this research.
DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
This chapter represents findings which were obtained from questionnaires and interviews and the findings were presented and analyzed using the frequency tables and percentages thus enabling the researcher in answering the research questions. The analysis of data will include both quantitative and qualitative data and it is presented by making use of simple tables and graphical presentations. This also analyses the results collected from the research in order to establish the relationship between the variables and ends with a summary.
4.1 Response rate
The sample size consisted of 13 respondents.
Figure 4.1 Response rate
Source: Primary Data
From the 13 questionnaires sent, 2 top management staff, 4 from the marketing department, 5 questionnaires from the customer services department was returned with only 2 respondents not
responding. This implies that 85% of the respondents responded and only 15% did not respond.
4.1.1 Analysis of responses from questionnaires
Thirteen (13) questionnaires were distributed to the respondents of which 5 were given employees in the marketing department, 5 to the customer services department then the remaining 3 were directed to top management of Golden Knot Legal Aid Society. From the questionnaires distributed 11 respondents returned the questionnaires, but 10 were usable. There was 76.92% response rate on usable questionnaires.
Table 4.1Questionnaire response rate
Description Number of respondents Percentage distribution %
Questionnaires issued 13 100
Questionnaires returned 11 84.62
Usable questionnaires returned 10 76.92
Did not respond 2 15,38
Source: Primary data
4.2 Data Analysis and Presentation
4.2.1 Presence of a customer service department at the company
The aim of the question was to ascertain whether there was a customer service department which deals with customer’s complaints at Golden Knot Legal Aid society. The respondents all indicated that there was a customer service department and they were all familiar with it hence 100% indicated that they were aware of its existence. According to McQuerrey (2013) a customer service department should not just be about being courteous to your customers – it should be a vital element of business operations and can impact your bottom line and affect how your company is viewed in the public eye.Furthermore, she asserts that the important part of customer service is in keeping the customers once you bring them in. It costs significantly more to attract new customers than it does to take care of the ones you already have.
4.2.2 Encountering of customer complaints regularly
The objective of this question was to check with the various employees of Golden Knot whether they encountered customer complaints regularly in the organization. Top management indicated that they rarely encounter customer complaints, the marketing department and the customer services department where the ones who indicated that they regularly encountered clients’ complaints. 70%of the respondents thus highlighted they encountered customer complaints regularly and these are those at the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy, this is so because they interact with customers on a daily basis. Top management do not encounter customer complaints regularly as they do not interact with customers on a daily basis save for rare cases which may be hard to solve and as such they constitute the 30% which rarely face customer complaints.
Table 4.2 Response on customer complaints
Description Number of respondents Percentage
Rarely encounter customer complaints 3 30%
Regularly encounter customer complaints 7 70%
Source: Primary data
The reason there is need to check on regularity of customer complaints is to be able to determine where the company is failing in attending to these customer complaints. If customers know that they can voice complaints and those issues will be handled properly, they will feel more comfortable doing business with you (John, 2018).Listening to customer complaints also enables the organization to learn something about the service it is providing hence as such customer retention is more prominent.
4.2.3 How long it takes the employees to respond to customer claims and complaints
This question was aimed to get to know the urgency with which complaints and claims are responded to. The findings were that 18% responded instantly with the other 18% took an average of 1-4 hours to attend to clients’ requests. 27% and 36% respond in 4-24 hours and a day or above respectively. According to Nielsen (1993) response times should be as fast as possible.
In light of the above results, the company generally takes long to respond to claims and complaints and there is need to cut this time lag so as to improve on service delivery and avoid keeping clients in the waiting. Reducing response times and responding to your customers with helpful and relevant information is the key to customer service success (MacDonald, 2018).
Fig 4.2 Time taken to respond to complaints
Source: Primary data
4.2.4 Major issues that customers raise their concern over
This question was designed to specifically determine which areas of concern the customers were being deprived good service delivery by the company. As such the employees managed to identify the areas where customers normally complain on. All 10 respondents articulated delays in claims handling as the major source of poor service delivery indicating 100% of the respondents. 50% highlighted failure to meet customer expectations as another issue of concern with 60% employees highlighting allegations in mal administration in relation to the policies. The other cause of customer complaints was asserted to be non-competent staff were 40% of the respondents identified this cause. Of the total respondents, 20% also indicated the unavailability of a client not having to choose their own solicitor as another cause.
According to Pratt (2017) it is important to know the causes of poor service delivery in legal aid insurance so as to be able to come up with strategies to curb these challenges in the future. One can never find a solution if he cannot identify a problem first, thus the need for this question. The above results indicated that there were common problems which were major issues of concern by clients which included delays in claims handling, failure to meet customer expectations, incompetent staff, allegations of mal administration on the policy and one wanting to have own solicitor.
Fig 4.3 Causes of customer complaints
Source: Primary data
4.2.5 Strategies being put in place to address these complaints and improve service delivery
The goal behind this question was to ascertain whether the company was doing something in trying to address poor service delivery highlighted in the customer complaints.
188.8.131.52 Employment of competent staff to address delays in claims handling
60% of the respondents indicated the need of employment of competent staff was key to improve service delivery. Delays in claims handling often results in customers losing trust as much of their time is taken up by these delays. As such if competent stuff is employed to handle claims this reduces the time lag and improves service delivery in turn and thus the company was trying its best in this regard (Pratt, 2016).
184.108.40.206 Timely meeting customer expectations
This strategy tries to curb failure to meet customer expectations. 40% of the respondents were of the view that the company was imploring this strategy.
220.127.116.11 Accommodative company culture
According to Needle (2004), company culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members.This strategy enables lower level employees to have some form of leverage in decision making as it accommodates every employee in the crafting of company objectives and policies. This strategy is being implemented by Golden Knot to counter allegations of mal administration of company policies as indicated by 40% of the respondents.
18.104.22.168 Appreciation from employer
50% of the respondents indicated that the employer was making efforts to appreciate and motivate the employees so that they deliver better service to the customer. Furthermore 30% of the employees also indicated that the company is trying to come up with a sound human resources policy on customer service in order to curb the above problems.
Fig 4.4 Strategies to address customer complaints and improve service delivery
Source: Primary data
According to Parasuraman et al (1999)identified have originally identified ten major constituent of service quality relative to the service industry, as such the legal insurance industry not being spared. These were tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, competence, courtesy, credibility, security, access, communication, and understanding the customer. All these elements are therefore important in addressing poor service quality and as such enhancing service quality.According to Nath and Zheng (2004) service quality is the measurement of an organization serves their customers and the outcome or the expectations of the perceived service. Golden Knot Legal Aid society is therefore doing its best in trying to improve service quality although not all of the constituents of service quality are not being fully utilized hence the need to implore the neglected constituents of service quality.
4.2.6 Challenges faced in addressing these complaints during and after service delivery
The aim of this objective was to discover the challenges that Golden Knot employees are facing in trying to address poor service delivery resulting from complaints. It thus came out that the company had no platform for following up on service delivery thus service quality and measuring if a client was satisfied with the response was difficult. This challenge was indicated by all the respondents as the major one. According to Hyken (2016) it is very important to follow up customer queries as it shows the level of interest you have for that customer. Baadar (2017) further asserts that once a business implements a regular and efficient follow up routine into their partaking, they will likely open up potential for repeat business and more profit.
Another challenge that the respondents highlighted was that of lack of proper training of the marketing agents. This was so because when the marketing agents went into the field they could not answer to pertinent issues the clients came up with but rather referred them to the customer service department clearly showing little or no knowledge of the matter at hand. According to Hyken (2016) customer service should not just be treated as a department but rather it should be a philosophy to be embraced by every employee, from the CEO to the recently hired, hence there is need for everyone in the organization to be trained on customer service.
Fig 4.5 Availability of a platform for following up on complaints
Source: Primary data
This chapter managed to extract data from the questionnaires, analyzing and presenting it into understandable and meaningful tabular and graphical forms and going on further to explain and interpret the information relating it to objectives and research questions. The next chapter draws from this wealth of knowledge giving recommendations to Golden Knot Legal Aid society on giving attention to customers and their needs with a vision of improving service quality.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This section of the research summarises the findings of the study, drawing conclusions and recommendations with reference to the research objectives. Conclusion of this research will be made from data gathered based on the research findings.This chapter is basically centered on the summary of the whole research study, conclusions and the recommendation to be made on the research project.
5.1 Summary of findings
The main objective of the study was to establish whether Golden Knot legal aid society was fully satisfying its clients in the provision of legal aid insurance. A mixture of ideas from different authors including both theoretical and empirical reviews helped in this research. The purpose of this research was to have a deep understanding of the service quality dimensions that affect legal aid insurance clients, particularly those of Golden Knot Legal Aid society hence based on a more detailed literature review, a frame of reference was established. The author looked at the major issues of concern by clients which resulted in poor service deliveryand a research was conducted to draw an insight on how these variables where being fully taken into consideration in an effort to improve service delivery and the strategies the company was using in doing so, thus the author looked at this from a practical perspective.
The major findings of the research were that poor service delivery in legal insurance is a major cause of concern, in this case Golden knot legal aid society being the company under study. From the findings of this research, the majority of the causes of poor service delivery that emanated from this research mainly came from delays in claims and complaints handling, allegations of mal administration, failure to meet customer expectations, non-competent staff and lack of proper training for employees of the organization.
In an effort to improve service delivery to its clients, the research also brought to light strategies that Golden Knot Legal Aid society was imploring as an organization to curb these service quality issues. These strategies include imploring an accommodative company culture, timely meeting customer expectations, crafting of a sound human resources policy and appreciation of employees. All these efforts although not enough were evident in use by the company as it tried to address the causes of poor service delivery in the administration of legal aid insurance.
The research resulted in the development of a reliable and valid instrument for assessing customer service delivery quality for Golden Knot legal aid society. From the findings of this research, service quality in legal aid insurance is important and should be key in an organisation ‘s planning. There is also need to address a normalities resulting in poor service delivery such that legal aid clients are fully satisfied by the service which then leads to customer retention and attraction of new customers. More so service quality needs to be measured using a six dimensional hierarchal structure consisting of assurance, competence, personalized financial planning, corporate image, tangibles and technology dimensions. This would help the managers of Golden Knot Legal aid society to efficiently allocate resources, by focusing on important dimensions first.
In the competitive insurance sector, these findings can be transformed into effective strategies and actions for achieving competitive advantage through customer satisfaction and retention. Although this study focuses on legal insurance, however the results and recommendations of this paper can be used for service quality improvements of other insurance industries as well. This can be performed by incorporating necessary changes in service quality aspects in accordance with socio-economic environment. Basing on the findings of this research it is important for Golden Knot to improve the quality of service it renders to its clients so that it satisfies the customers and as such be able to retain them on policy expiration. This will also improve its corporate image and enables new customer attraction.
In light of the research conclusions, here are some recommendations that Golden Knot may make use of to elevate the consumer satisfaction and maintain a good consumer relationship:
5.3.1. Provide Various Customised Services to Satisfy Consumers’ Needs.
The key to the success of insurance services is their various functions and services (Makanyeza, 2013). For Golden Knot Legal aid society, it should emphasize the core services to be customised as per the needs of specific group of consumers. This curbs the problem of allegations of mal administration of the policies as the customer will fairly know that it was tailor made. In this regard the company should tailor make its policies such that every customer need is satisfied without neglecting, this then promotes good relationship with customers as they will be catered for specifically without the use of just one umbrella policy.
5.3.2. Improve Visible and Invisible Quality of Services and employees.
Consumer satisfaction and consumer loyalty are related to consistent marketing (Kottler, 2006). Golden Knot should improve not only the overall quality of service, but also consumer service personnel’s professional knowledge in financial merchandises and communication. A better service is accompanied by a better consumer relationship and a higher consumer satisfaction. Thus there is need to improve visible aspects of the service such as signage, corporate wear, policy documents, banners and even brochures. This recommendation helps address the issue of non-competent staff and the need for a sound human resources policy.
5.3.3. Employee empowerment leads to better consumer education which ultimately leads to consumer satisfaction.
Golden Knot Legal Aid society must also concentrate on behavioural aspect of service quality that is employees who directly deal with the consumers must be trained and empowered to educate consumers. In this regard all employees have to be trained in relation to customer service and this should encompass everyone from the security guards, accountants, secretaries just to mention a few and it should not only be for the marketing and customer services department only. Better consumer’s education will lead to efficient service delivery and it is certainly going to give satisfaction to consumers and will also help to retain them (Pratt, 2016). These services will surely attract some new consumers and will make existing consumers loyal. This addresses the issue of failure to meet customer expectations as everyone in the organisation is empowered and well trained.
5.3.4. Minimisation of the GAPS existing in service quality.
According to Parasuraman (1999), without identifying the gaps existing in service quality of legal aid insurance, it will be difficult to maintain quality. Golden Knot Legal aid society must identify the gaps by doing continuous research on consumer’s expectations and perception for service quality and management’s expectations and perception for service quality. This recommendation helps solve the issue of failure to meet customer services which in turn results in poor service delivery. The company has to ensure the corrective measures help to minimize the existing gaps. Communicating timeously and accurately in order to retain loyal customers and must resolve conflicts in a manner that will eliminate unnecessary loss and inconvenience to customers.
5.3.5. Use of Technology is the new dimension identified in this study.
In this case, Golden knot legal aid society should focus on ensuring ease of online transaction, prompt complaint handling, online and availability of proactive information through e-mail or SMS. This helps their clients in having access to them or airing out their challenges without having to visit the offices and as such fasten the process of provision for the service through these technologically built channels of communication. The companyshould also ensure that two-way communication exists between employee and clients, an improvement on customer loyalty and retention will be identified. Through using technology, a platform for following up on claims can then be established and this enables the company to ensure customer satisfaction and ensure that customer complaints are entirely resolved (Heyken, 2016).
5.3.6 Offering motivational incentives to employees
According to Cronin and Taylor (1992) business organizations should ensure high levels of commitment from employees through implementing incentives schemes that motivate employees to deliver their best and ensure job satisfaction. Golden Knot can make use of strategies to motivate their employees to be committed, trustworthy and handle clients with care for example through an “employee of the month” award. In this regard, the company can award an employee who will have been voted by clients as being the best when handling their complaints or queries. This motivates employees as they will be getting better appreciation from their employer.