The Mediation Effect of Customer Perception on the Relationship Between Quality Drivers and Customer Satisfaction in Large Maize Flour Mills in Nairobi, Kenya

Ndungu kabare, Francis N Kibera, Justus M Munyoki


This study sought to establish the influence of quality drivers on the satisfaction of direct business customers within large Maize Flour Mills in Nairobi and assess the mediation effect of customer perception on this relationship. The quality drivers studied were product quality, service quality, complaints handling, ease of doing business and product price. Customer perception constructs studied were customer’s desire for features critical to quality, brand imagery, firm imagery and reference to competitive substitutes. Primary data were collected in February 2013 by use of questionnaires from 81 direct Business Customer firms randomly
selected from 13 Maize Flour Mills in the study area grinding at least 15 MT of maize per day. Results showed that the influence of quality drivers on customer satisfaction is both direct and partially mediated by customer perception, both influences being positive and statistically significant (p< 0.01). Quality of service significantly influenced customer satisfaction (β= 0.441, p< 0.01) and most of the other quality drivers and intention to recommend. Brand imagery significantly influenced satisfaction (β= 0.531, p< 0.01) followed by desire for features critical to quality (β= 0.259, p< 0.01). These results have implications for marketing theory. The finding
that customer perception partially mediated the process of customer satisfaction agrees with the consumer attitude theories which postulate that attitude and subjective norms in conjunction with cognitive and emotional considerations influence intentions which in turn give impetus for action. The study contributes to the evolution and adaptation of customer satisfaction models by adding customer perception as mediator variables. Further, the results have implications useful at national policy level. Kenya’s strategy for revitalizing agriculture and vision 2030 both aspire to increase the country’s regional and global trade through improved efficiency and competitiveness at firm level, agro-processing and the marketing system including the wholesale and retail sectors. The volume of trade within the East African Community is expected to
increase as member states reduce trade barriers. This will open new trade opportunities but could increase competition. Training local firms on the issues of quality drivers and customer perception can help to improve their regional and global competitiveness. For managerial
practice, the results demonstrate that frequent feedback on customer perception is necessary and that improvements in the quality of service go a long way in improving customer perception concerning other quality drivers and satisfaction. It is concluded that customer satisfaction
enhancement programs and evaluation models need to integrate primary drivers of quality with key drivers of customer perception. The study was limited in a number of ways. Due to time, cost and other constraints a cross-sectional research design was used and focused on firms in
Nairobi. Data were collected from respondents once to get their views and perceptions concerning a limited number of variables and constructs. However, perceptions vary over time and across markets or regions as influenced by changes in consumer preferences or economic changes that influence purchase and consumption patterns. Opportunities therefore exist for longitudinal and wider studies in the same area of research.
Key Words:Quality drivers, customer perception, customer satisfaction (CS), Nairobi, Kenya

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