n South African Journal of Education - Customer service factors of a Telematic Learning BBA degree

Volume 21, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



Traditional educational boundaries at tertiary institutions in SouthAfrica are fast becoming more flexible and as a result, quality distancelearning is becoming more accessible to the market. The challengesof the distance education market reside not only within thetraditional academic system in South Africa, but also with the accessibilityof quality tertiary education via distance learning programmesof foreign institutions. In order to supply the ultimate learning experienceto students, the concept of client relations is becoming increasinglyimportant. Client relations should not be regarded as a surrogatefor academic excellence but it certainly enhances the valuegained through distance learning on a tertiary level. In view of thisexciting transformation process a vital Department of TelematicLearning Systems was established at the Potchefstroom University forChristian Higher Education (PU for CHE). This department deliversand administrates all the degree and diploma programmes constructedby the academic departments at the PU for CHE. This departmentadopts a strong customer aligned approach as a strategic thrust andstudents are treated as valued clients of the university. Continuousclient satisfaction research is conducted and this article reports on theresults of one such a research project. Apart from supplying the demographicprofile of students, the article reports on the service levels thatundergraduate Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) studentsexperienced during their 1997 year of study. The statistical technique,factor analysis, was employed to determine underlying communalitiesof these specific services. Eight factors were identified from thevarimax rotated factor matrix. As a result of the reliability statisticalprocedure: Cronbach's Alpha coefficient (value of 0.928), afavourable cumulative variance of almost 60% is explained. Theresults obtained could be of significant value, firstly, to the PU forCHE which attempts to improve the service that is rendered to students.If they understand the client relationship and its service levels,they should be able to concentrate more energy in these areas. Thisreasoning also applies to other universities who wish to enter distanceand/or open-learning educational systems. Secondly, students shouldprofit from efficiently trained front-line staff who are educated in client'sexpectations of service levels. Thirdly, other researchers in servicequality could use the results as a basis for future research sincethey provide a comparative foundation.

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