Small-Scale Research Project in a Local Estate Agent


Viewpoint Research Limited has been commissioned by Capitol Properties Limited to conduct a survey on the current approaches to “Customer Satisfaction”, and offer some suggestions for improvement to its management. Capitol Properties Limited has been in the property management business for the last eight years operating in Dubai. Currently the company employs a total of twenty employees consisting of two teams with team One dealing with house sales/purchases and the other dealing with house leasing/rentals. Viewpoint Research Limited intends to determine customers’ experience with Capitol Properties Limited. In addition, the company will be provided with an insight of how clients perceive the company’s salespeople and company as a whole. This plan will allow to measure performance by ranking different branches/locations and salespeople and comparing the company’s customer satisfaction rating to national rankings.  Customer satisfaction is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation. Good customer service is the lifeline of any organisation. A contented real estate customer often could result in repeat business or even multiple referrals. Thus, customer satisfaction is an important factor in the real estate industry. In as much as it is reassuring to know that customers are generally satisfied with the service, the real purpose of the survey is to identify opportunities for improvement that are available. This survey will be guided by the question; what is the overall customer satisfaction level with the services provided by Capitol Properties Limited. The survey will aim at;

  1. Determining how well customer needs have been met.
  2. Examining whether salespeople meet customers’ expectations.
  3. Determining the overall customer satisfaction index.
  4. Identifying customer perceptions of “key areas of weakness” and “key areas of strength”.
  5. Measuring and prioritizing areas where improvement will most affect customer satisfaction.
  6. Providing recommendations for service delivery improvement.


Research can either be qualitative or quantitative. In qualitative research, words and observations express the reality, and it is often used to describe subjects in their natural situations. In-depth opinions on the subjects are determined. This approach utilises such methods as interviews and focus groups. According to Denzin & Lincoln, qualitative research consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible.  According to Creswell, there are five strategies of inquiry in qualitative research which include; narratives, phe­nomenological studies, grounded theory studies, ethnographies, and case studies. Despite the potential of qualitative approaches in theory, Richards and Richards mention four major perceived constraints against the use of qualitative approaches. These constraints include data volume; complexity of analysis; details of classification record; and flexibility and momentum of analysis. In addition, they argue that pure qualitative research may neglect the social and cultural construction of the variables studied. On the other hand, quantitative research produces statistics using large scale survey research through the use of questionnaires and structured interviews.  In this approach, numbers are used to represent opinions. The main purpose of quantitative research is to collect, count, measure, and assess the meaning behind specific variables with the aim of devising statistical explanations on what is learnt. Here, data is gathered from a much larger number of representative individuals than in qualitative research. In qualitative research, the researcher is interested in collecting information that might help in invalidating an existing theory or creation of a hypothesis. In the words of Trochim and Land, quantitative research design is the glue that holds a research project together. Said differently, Numerical values are the outcome after data collection and which are usually subjected to statistical computations with the view to testing the pre-formulated hypothesis. For the current study, a quantitative research approach will be adopted. The major reason for adopting this design is because customer satisfaction survey basically involves measurements where the attributes to be measured on the importance and satisfaction have to be determined. Qualitative research approach will not be applied due to time and budget implications. In addition, the large numbers of interviews involved are likely to escalate the cost of the project. This survey is aimed at testing the levels of customer satisfaction to services offered by Capitol Properties Limited. The appropriateness of a quantitative strategy has been emphasised owing to the fact that this survey is steadily anchored on the analytical view which is positivistic to knowledge creation and believe that reality is a concrete and conformable to law from structure independent of the researcher. By applying quantitative approach in this study, the researcher will be utilizing a “detached orientation to research” where the researcher remains neutral to the phenomenon under investigation. According to Kuada, using such orientation the researcher will be able to produce data that is impartial. In addition, application of this technique will enable the researcher to be well familiarized with the concept at hand as well as be able to generate the hypotheses to be tested. According to Golafshani, the emphasis is on facts and cause of behaviours. For this survey, hypotheses testing will have a strong bearing to the analytical view. Further, quantitative research also aims at fragmenting and delimiting phenomenon into measurable categories applicable to all subjects or many situations. As mentioned, this study is thought out on the analytical approach. This means that it has a positivistic direction in the theory of science which assumes that the total is equal to the sum of the parts which can be quantitatively analysed.

Mono and Mixed Methods Research

According to Creswell and Plano Clark, a mono research method study utilises only one type of method; one quantitative or one qualitative. Generally, a quantitative study involves a study where numerical data is analyzed using quantitative data analysis techniques whereas in a qualitative study, information is analyzed through the use of qualitative data analysis techniques. The method is referred to as mono because it considers only one methodological approach as being superior.  For this study, a definition of mixed research method by Plano Clark is applied. He defines mixed methods research as that research that combines both qualitative and quantitative data collection and data analysis within a one study. Undertaking a mixed methods research is difficult. They become difficult since they require additional work and financial resources, in addition to requiring a larger timeline to conclude compared to mono method research. Further, to undertake a mixed method research, the research needs additional skills in both qualitative and quantitative research designs. According to Johnson & Turner, mixed research methods still do not adequately address crucial methodological issues of both qualitative and quantitative research despite the emphasis to combine both due to their “complementary strengths and non-overlapping weaknesses . In spite of these barriers, mixed method research has benefits which include breadth and range of inquiry since different methods are used, the researcher can also use results from one method to develop the use of the other method and that the method enhances clarification of results from one method with the findings from the other method. This survey will seek to utilise the quantitative mono method research. Thus, quantitative method is considered the superior method compared to qualitative method. This method is selected because due to time and budget constraints. The scope of this study is also taken into consideration, which does not allow for an extensive study. This study will be a snapshot of customer satisfaction at a particular time. According to Saunders et al, most cross-sectional studies consider time constraints involved. Additionally, quantitative mono method will help in testing and validating existing theories in customer satisfaction. More importantly, this method will help when generalizing findings since the data will be based on random samples, faster collection of information as well as ensure credibility of the findings by the management.

Data Collection Methods

There exist various data collection methods with each having its unique advantages and disadvantages. Data collected in research can be grouped into two; primary and secondary data. Primary data is considered as the first-hand information received from a subject. In other words, it is original information collected for the first time. This data may be collected through interviews, participant’s observation, focus group discussion, questionnaires, among other techniques. Primary data is considered reliable since it is often produced by a researcher with a definite aim within a specific context. According to Chandran, data that has already been collected and passed through the statistical process is referred to as secondary data and usually includes Internet materials, books, company materials articles and newspapers. The advantages associated with secondary data include easy accessibility, good basis for faster decision making and is also relatively cheap compared to primary data. According to Hair et al, majority of organizations find secondary data sources enough in solving marketing research problems due to their abundance.   However, the major barrier to adoption of secondary data is its ability and suitability to provide the required solutions given that they have been collected for a specific purpose. Considering this shortcoming, primary data has provided a good complement. This study will specifically use both primary and secondary data sources. Specifically, primary data will be collected by the use of a structured questionnaire while secondary data will be collected by review of relevant literature. According to Davis, questionnaires often provide a high degree of data standardization and adoption of generalized information amongst any population. They are useful where there is the need to quickly and easily get information from people in a non-threatening way.  In addition, questionnaires are considered more objective compared to interviews. Further, it is relatively quick to collect information using questionnaires.  Questionnaires have also been selected since they make quantification of information possible. The use of structure questions is to ensure that the statistical process is simplified. In using questionnaires, anonymity of respondents is maintained thus ensuring respondents remain honest, resulting to valid and accurate research data. Questionnaires will also help to eliminate the researcher’s biasness.  In this quantitative study, secondary data will be applied to verify the hypotheses derived from primary data. However, to ensure reliability and validity of data, only respectable research sources will be used for the purposes of secondary data collection.

The Questionnaire

For this study to meet its objectives, structured questionnaires were designed to be applied in the study. These questions were formulated from the aims that guided this study. Structured questions are designed to make a respondent choose from a list of alternatives. Some of the benefits of structured questions include the relatively time and cost efficiency compared to open- ended questions. In addition, it covers wide geographical coverage. Therefore, structured questionnaires can be said to collect relatively additional information on a condensed basis compared to other types of questions. For this study, only quantitative data will be collected from the structured questionnaires. Data will either be in the form of discrete or continuous. Discrete data is defined as numeric data that have a finite number of possible values. A classic example of discrete data is a finite subset of the counting numbers, (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) perhaps corresponding to {strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree and strongly agree}. When data represent counts, they are discrete. An example might be how many students were absent on a given day. Counts are generally considered exact and integer. Continuous data, on the other hand, have infinite possibilities: 1.4, 1.41, and 1.414, 1.4142, 1.141421 and so on. Blank questionnaires will be administered to Capitol Properties Limited consumers through e-mail and drop and pick method. The questionnaire will contain questions including personal characteristics of the agency’s customers. These will include age, gender, marital status, educational level and occupation of the customers. In addition, questions on the agency’s performance will be asked, and customers will be asked to pick an option, from a Likert scale, ranging from incompetent to excellent. Perception to how real estate consumers view real estate agents will also be tested. Customers will also be required to rank the overall quality of services provided by Capitol Properties Limited. These will be in the form of a Likert scale ranging from 1-5 where 1 represents very poor and 5 excellent. Customers will also rank their perceptions on the need for improvement for service delivery. Further, various factors will be set to test and the respondents will be expected to strongly disagree or strongly agree if those factors could improve the quality of services rendered by Capitol Properties Limited. Finally, respondents will be asked to rate the importance of the factors affecting the quality in Capitol Properties Limited Service Delivery.

Theory and Literature Search

A ‘theory’ can be said to be a logical explanation for why something is as it is or does as it does. Theories are not static, and they are bound to change in future.  Theories are often testable in natural sciences. In this study, major explanatory theories that relate to customer satisfaction will be sourced and related to the context of this study. Relevant theories will be derived from electronic sources through the Internet. To find these theories, the researcher will type the words ‘customer satisfaction theories’ in ‘Google books’ and other academic journals including HTTP://SEARCH.EBSCOHOST.COM;;;; . Literature review will also be derived from these online scholarly journals. Searching of theories and literature review via electronic databases is considered probably the quickest way to access a lot of material. Literature review involves published information about a certain topic by other authors and researchers. Literature review will help the researcher to effectively identify a missing gap within the literature that this study seeks to address. In writing a literature review, the researcher will be seeking to answer questions such as; has any other author or researcher done anything on customer satisfaction? How will this research add to other researchers’ knowledge or challenge the existing theories and perceptions on customer satisfaction? Is this study relevant to research/practice/theory in customer satisfaction? What is already understood or known about customer satisfaction?

Project Tasks and Timelines

The tasks and timelines involved for the project are as shown in the Gantt chart below. The project is proposed to commence on 7th January 2013. Under this period to the 15th of January 2013, Viewpoint Research Limited will make preliminary visits and meetings with the client, Capitol Properties Limited where the terms of agreement will be duly agreed and the contract signed. Viewpoint Research Limited will then undertake the preparations for the project from the period beginning 15th- 31st January 2013. In this period, the plan for the research, research design, sampling and questionnaire design will be concluded. Data collection will then kick off from the 1st – 15th February 2013. Both primary and secondary data will be collected under this time frame. Primary data will be collected by the use of a structured questionnaire while secondary data will be sourced from journals, articles, newspapers, magazines among other secondary sources. Collected data will be coded and entered in excel spreadsheets from15th-28th February 2013 to enable the study to commence from 28th and end on1st March 2013. After analysis, a draft research report will be prepared for Capitol Properties Limited management between the 1st and 15th March 2013. Under this timeframe, the draft report will be discussed with the client, and after agreeing on the report, a final report will be submitted by 31st March 2013 to Capitol Properties Limited. Some of the potential limitations that might be encountered include customers being not cooperative in filling in the questionnaires. However, data collection clerks will be trained to handle such cases. For instance, they might leave the questionnaire with the customer and collect it later. The study also anticipates ambiguous and distorted responses concerning the issue of study from the respondents. Such responses could be given by respondents so as not to paint a good picture of the Agent. The researcher will thus structure the questions in the questionnaire in such a way to guide the respondents in providing information which is relevant for the study.

Activity (Work)


7th Jan 2013

15th Jan 2013

31st Jan 2013

1st Feb2013

15th Feb 2013

28th Feb 2013

1st March 2013

15th March 2013

31st March 2013



Collecting Primary Data

Data Coding/ Entry

Data Analysis

Draft Report

Final Research Report

Ethical Issues

Ethical issues in academic work occur during all phases of the project. According to, Sommer and Sommer ethical considerations such as confidentiality, anonymity and avoidance of deception are very important issues in social research. Major ethical issues in research involve plagiarism. For this study, utmost care will be taken to avoid instances of plagiarism. Additionally, various ethical issues will be addressed by the respondents. These issues will be important to safeguard the safety and privacy of respondents. Issues of confidentiality and consent will have to be addressed through explaining clearly the objectives of the study. This will enable the participants clearly understand their role in the research. Further, the decision to participate will be voluntary, and at no time will customers’ personal details be requested or included in the survey. In addition, no reward or enticement will be offered to any customer to participate in the survey or help improve the response rate. The researcher will also have to be careful to avoid causing physical or psychological harm to respondents by asking embarrassing and irrelevant questions, threatening language or making respondents stressed.


In conclusion, this research is expected to provide Capitol Properties Limited with the overall customer satisfaction index. In addition, Viewpoint Research Limited will provide actionable insights, which Capitol Properties Limited will use to draw up its focus for the next year to improve customer satisfaction among its clientele.

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