In any business-to-customer (B2C) type ofenvironment, satisfying a customer is the ultimate goal and objective. More often than not, it can be quite an issue. This is perhaps due to the fact that organizations sometimes do not really understand of what actually goes on in a customer’s mind. As such, this predicament has provided as a challenging task to most business conglomerates that places strong emphasis on customer relations. Although many researches and studies were conducted on the actual working of the customer’s mind, till today it is a still a mystery.
Therefore, this research focused on the measurement of customer satisfaction through delivery of service quality of Service Counter staff of Commercial Banks in Penang, Malaysia. A quantitative research was used to study the relationship between service quality dimensions and customer satisfaction. Assurance has positive relationship but it has no significant effect on customer satisfaction. Reliability has negative relationship but it has no significant effect on customer satisfaction. Tangibles have positive relationship and have significant impact on customer satisfaction. Empathy has positive relationship but it has no significant effect on customer satisfaction. Responsiveness has positive relationship but no significant impact on customer satisfaction. The study highlights implications for marketers in banking industry for improvement in delivery of service quality.
CHAPTER 1- INTRODUCTION
Service organizations play an important role for developing countries like Malaysia. Therefore, it must be good quality and competitive organization in maintaining customer satisfaction and further needs to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization. At the same time, as we all know that the requirements and higher customer expectations, it is different from the past (Rogerio & Zulema, 2002). This is a very great challenge to all sectors.
Banking business is now driven with the introduction of new products / services and processes which are facilitated through ongoing technological advancements. In such a scenario the expectations of customers also shift to a higher platform and is usually perceived against the backdrop of the experiences gained while dealing with competitors. The gap in customer expectations many a times results in complaints and the same can be said to be inevitable, as in any service industry. To retain as also increase customer base it is absolutely essential that the bank instills confidence in its customers through satisfactory explanations and resolution of complaints and at the same time use complaints as a feed back mechanism for bringing about improvement in services.
The banking sector at present has put a benchmark index that determines the performance of Customer Service in the organization. It is also consistent with the requirements of the Bank that all institutions must be able to respond positively to a more competitive among the financial liberalization and technological revolution by offering an innovative range of products that range and improve the quality of customer service on an ongoing basis. (Tan Sri Dato ‘Dr Zeti Akhtar Azizi, 2005).
The banking sector also needs quality personnel and competency. Having employees like them to provide high quality products and services is critical to build consumer confidence and good relationship, drive customer satisfaction and enhance the reputation of previous research studies, (Ndubisi & Tam, 2005) has stated ‘bind’ the customer is as important as when they lose will harm the institution. This will lead to a decline in revenue, increased costs to attract new customers, a bad reputation when the customer is not satisfied the problem will spread to other customers and a decline in employee retention (Colgate & Norris, 2001).
1.1 PROBLEM STATEMENT
The trend of world markets has changed noticeably from agricultural to service markets (Asian Development Outlook, 2007). All of the service businesses are trying their best to improve their service quality in order to make customers satisfied with their services. Banks now focus more on the quality standards in order to meet the basic needs and expectations of the customers.
Once customers requirements are clearly identified and understood, banks are more likely to anticipate and fulfill their customers needs and wants (Juwaheer & Ross, 2003). In the banking sector, the first place of destination by the customer is at the Customer Service Counter (Customer Service). Here, various questions, problems and complaints filed by customers. At the bank, customer service counter is the most important because this is where the Customer Relations Assistant job set to any direction so that customers, whether customers want to continue the operation of the counter, self-service terminals, counters open accounts, loans or financial adviser or directly to managers to make a complaint.
Service quality was determined as the subjective comparison that customers make between their expectations about a service and the perception of the way the service has been run. Parasuraman (1985) defined service quality as ;a function of the differences between expectation and performance along ten major dimensions.
In later research, Parasuraman (1988) revised and defined the service quality in terms of five dimensions: tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy.
In the banking industry, most researchers are interested in maximizing customer Satisfaction. Hernon & Whitwan (2001) defined customer satisfaction as a measure of how the customer perceives service delivery. Liu (2000) stated, for example, that customer satisfaction is a function of service performance relative to the customer expectation. For this reason, it is important to understand how customer expectation is formed in order to identify the factors of service satisfaction.
As Reisig & Chandek (2001) discussed the fact that different customers have different expectations, based on their knowledge of a product or service. This can be implied that a customer may estimate what the service performance will be or may think what the performance ought to be. If the service performance meets or exceeds customers& expectation, the customers will be satisfied. On the other hand, customers are more likely to be dissatisfied if the service performance is less than what they have expected.
A greater number of satisfied customers will make the bank business more successful and more profitable. Previous research explored customer satisfaction
regarding the service quality of all areas in the bank so that the bank can assess the customer perception.
This study identified five factors of service quality by focusing on the Service Counter staff (including Customer Service Counter), and explored the customers expectations and perception levels of these services at Commercial Banks in Penang, Malaysia.
The results of this quantitative assessment of service quality might provide some insights into how customers rate the overall service quality and assessed customers satisfactions at Commercial Banks in Penang, Malaysia.
Customer satisfaction, a business term, is a measure of how products and services
supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation. It is seen as a key performance indicator within business and is part of the four perspectives of a Balanced Scorecard. In a competitive marketplace where businesses compete for customers, customer satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator and increasingly has become a key element of business strategy.
The study is intended to identify customer satisfaction and retention is critical for retail banks, and investigates the major determinants of customer satisfaction and future intentions in the retail bank sector. Identifies the determinants which include
service quality dimensions (e.g. getting it right the first time), service features (e.g. competitive interest rates), service problems, service recovery and products used.
Banks are increasingly interested in retaining existing customers while targeting non-customers; measuring customer satisfaction provides an indication of how successful the organization is at providing products and/or services to the marketplace. Customer satisfaction is an ambiguous and abstract concept and the actual manifestation of the state of satisfaction will vary from person to person and product/service to product/service. The state of satisfaction depends on a number of both psychological and physical variables which correlate with satisfaction behaviors such as return and recommend rate. The level of satisfaction can also vary depending on other options the customer may have and other products against which the customer can compare the banks’s products.
1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
- To assess customers expectation and perception level towards service quality of the Service Counter staff of Commercial Banks in Penang, Malaysia; in five dimensions: tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy (Parasuraman, 1988).
- To analyze the discrepancy gap between customers expectation and perception towards the service quality of the Service Counter staff of Commercial Banks in Penang, Malaysia.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What is the level of customers expectation and perception towards service quality of the Service Counter staff?
- What is the discrepancy gap between customers expectation and perception towards service quality of the Service Counter staff?
1.4 SCOPE OF STUDY
Customer satisfaction relied on customer expectation and customer perception towards 5 service quality dimensions of Service Counters of 10 Commercial Banks in Penang, Malaysia. The sampling group was 60 customers – 6 customers from each bank.
Definition of Terms
Service quality means the difference between the customers expectation of service and their perceived service. In this study, the assessment standards of Zeithaml, Parasuraman & Berry (1990) will be used, which consist of five dimensions: tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy.
SERVQUAL is an instrument for measuring service quality, in terms of the discrepancy between customers expectation regarding service offered and the perception of the service received. Respondents are required to answer questions about both their expectation and their perception.
Customer expectation means uncontrollable factors including past experience, personal needs, word of mouth, and external communication about the bank services. Customer perception means customers feelings of pleasure / displeasure or the reaction of the customers in relation to the performance of the bank staff in satisfying / dissatisfying the services.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be as a practical guideline for the bank management to identify weaknessess and rooms for imrovement in their service quality. Customer satisfaction, a business term, is a measure of how products and services supplied
by a company meet or surpass customer expectation. It is seen as a key performance indicator within business and is part of the four perspectives of a Balanced Scorecard.
In a competitive marketplace where banks compete for customers, customer satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator and increasingly has become a key element of business strategy. The study is intended to identify customer satisfaction and retention is critical for retail banks, and investigates the major determinants of customer satisfaction and future intentions in the retail bank sector. Identifies the determinants which include service quality dimensions, service features, service problems, service recovery and products used.
Finds, in particular, that service problems and the bank’s service recovery ability have a major impact on customer satisfaction and intentions to switch. This study investigates the relationship between perceived performance, satisfaction and behavioural intention, and the extent to which each is associated with actual performance, customers’ attributions for problems, experience and the level of performance which customers think is possible.
Perceived performance and satisfaction are significantly associated with customer standards of the best possible performance, and satisfaction is also associated with the customer’s attribution of the’ cause of performance problems.
While satisfaction was significantly associated with intention to re-purchase, a significant interaction was found between customer experience and satisfaction.
Banks are increasingly interested in retaining existing customers while targeting non-customers; measuring customer satisfaction provides an indication of how successful the organization is at providing products and/or services to the marketplace. Customer satisfaction is an ambiguous and abstract concept and the actual manifestation of the state of satisfaction will vary from person to person and product/service to product/service.
The state of satisfaction depends on a number of both psychological and physical variables which correlate with satisfaction behaviors such as return and recommend rate. The level of satisfaction can also vary depending on other options the customer may have and other products against which the customer can compare the organization’s products.
CHAPTER 2 – LITERATURE REVIEW
Previous researchers have demonstrated the importance of increasing understanding of strategies to resolve customer complaints and more to study the behavior of customers, namely quality of life & sex Ndubisi, 2005. Study customer behavior through the CM model to take the complaint as an opportunity to provide solutions, research studies and the Vos & Huitema, 2008. As the study by Baptista, 2003 in which an organization should attempt to resolve complaints informally, taken orally and should make proper records and the complaint should be resolved as soon as possible so the problem does not persist.
They have also emphasized differences in complaints against the Service Counter and self service terminals & Vihtkari Snellman, 2003, is the notion that the use of self-service terminals in the bank to reduce customer complaints, but rather a circumstance where there is 40 per cent of users are not satisfied with the self-service.
Researchers previously expressed understanding of customer dissatisfaction is the key to successful implementation of TQM and principals as well as the Puga Leal & Pereira, 2002. Researchers say previous satisfaction is waiting to be served a major contributor to quality of service satisfaction Sulek & Hensley, 2007.
Researchers previously expressed satisfaction with the care, satisfaction, trust and satisfaction as a control, each dependent on each other that Beverland, 2005. Previous researchers to state that organizations need to keep employees as customers and keeping customers as employees of Bowers & Martin, 2004.
Researchers found that the quality of a product is dependent on the existing knowledge in the management of the Yang, 2006. Researchers say there is a strong relationship between the dimensions of service quality, performance and customer satisfaction.
Previous studies have identified the benefits that customer retention delivers to an organisation (see Colgate et al., 1996; Reichheld and Sasser, 1990; Storbacka et al., 1994). For example, the longer a customer stays with an organisation the more utility the customer generates (Reichheld and Sasser, 1990). This is an outcome of a number of factors relating to the time the customer spends with the organisation. These include the higher initial costs of introducing and attracting a new customer, increases in both the value and number of purchases, the customer’s better understanding of the organisation, and positive word-of-mouth promotion.
Customer satisfaction has been said one of the most widely used study in marketing. The previous research has tries to identify a number of variables of customer satisfaction. Because satisfaction is basically a psychological state, care
should be taken in the effort of quantitative measurement, although a large quantity of research in this area has recently been developed. Work done by Berry (Bart Allen) and Brodeur between 1990 and 1998 defined ten ‘Quality Values’ which influence satisfaction behavior, further expanded by Berry in 2002 and known as the ten domains of satisfaction. These ten domains of satisfaction include: Quality, Value, Timeliness, Efficiency, Ease of Access, Environment, Inter-departmental Teamwork, Front line Service Behaviors, Commitment to the Customer and Innovation.
These factors are emphasized for continuous improvement and organizational change measurement and are most often utilized to develop the architecture for satisfaction measurement as an integrated model. Work done by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (Leonard L) between 1985 and 1988 provides the basis for the measurement of customer satisfaction with a service by using the gap between the customer’s expectation of performance and their perceived experience of performance.
This provides the measurer with a satisfaction “gap” which is objective and quantitative in nature. Work done by Cronin and Taylor propose the “confirmation/disconfirmation” theory of combining the “gap” described by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry as two different measures (perception and expectation of performance) into a single measurement of performance according
to expectation. According to Garbrand, customer satisfaction equals perception of performance divided by expectation of performance.
The usual measures of customer satisfaction involve a study with a set of statements using a Likert scale. The customer is asked to evaluate each statement and in term of their perception and expectation of performance of the organization being measured. Based on their responses, customers can be categorized into one of three groups: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.
In the net promoter framework, Promoters are viewed as valuable assets that drive profitable growth because of their repeat/increased purchases, longevity and referrals, while Detractors are seen as liabilities that destroy profitable growth because of their complaints, reduced purchases/defection and negative word-of-mouth. Companies calculate their Net Promoter Score by subtracting their % Detractors from their % Promoters.
The Kano model is a theory of product development and customer satisfaction developed in the 1980’s by Professor Noriaki Kano that classifies customer preferences into five categories: Attractive, One-Dimensional, Must-Be, Indifferent, Reverse.
The Kano model offers some insight into the product attributes which are perceived to be important to customers. Kano also produced a methodology for mapping consumer responses to questionnaires onto his model.
SERVQUAL or RATER is a service-quality framework that has been incorporated into customer-satisfaction surveys (e.g., the revised Norwegian Customer Satisfaction Barometer) to indicate the gap between customer expectations and experience.
J.D. Power and Associates provides another measure of customer satisfaction, known for its top-box approach and automotive industry rankings. J.D. Power and Associates’ marketing research consists primarily of consumer surveys and is publicly known for the value of its product awards.
One of the newest and most innovative customer satisfaction measurement methodologies is called Gustometria. Gustometria is real time measurement of customer and employee satisfaction. Customers are invited to answer a short survey by touching the “gustometer” screen with their fingers. The responses are collected immediately by the Gustometria servers which tabulate the results in real time. Management can then log into their private website and use the sophisticated business intelligence reports which are built in to the Gustometria system.
The rewards to firms that establish a loyal customer base have been well documented (Armstrong and Symonds, 1991; Heskett, 1994; Reichheld and Sasser, 1990). In general, increased loyalty leads to lower costs of servicing the firm’s customers, reduced marketing expenditures, increased business from the existing customer base and greater profits. These rewards are particularly true in the retail banking sector.
By increasing loyalty, a retail bank:
- reduces its servicing costs (i.e. accounts do not have to be opened or closed, and credit ratings do not have to be established;
- gains knowledge of the financial affairs and needs of its customers (thereby allowing effective and efficient targeting); and
- has an opportunity to cross-sell existing and new products and services. In one case, a retail bank that increased its customer retention rates by 5 per cent increased its profits by 85 per cent (Reichheld and Sasser, 1990). Improving customer satisfaction, and thereby retention rates, can come from a variety of activities available to the firm.
The existing evidence suggests that major gains in customer satisfaction are likely to come from improvements in:
- Service quality;
- Service features; and
- Customer complaint handling.
Not surprisingly, there are strong linkages between service quality dimensions (e.g.
courteous service providers) and overall customer satisfaction (Anderson and Sullivan, 1993). However, there has been considerable debate as to the basic dimensions of service quality (see Brown et al., 1993 and Cronin and Taylor, 1992, for reviews), the measurement of these dimensions (Brown et al., 1993; Parasuraman et al., 1993; Smith, 1995; Teas, 1993), and the components of customer satisfaction (Hausknecht, 1990; Yi, 1990). Surprisingly, little empirical research has examined the importance of service quality dimensions in determining customer satisfaction.
CHAPTER 3: THEORICAL FRAMEWORK AND METHODOLOGY
3.1 THEORICAL FRAMEWORK
SOURCES OF DISSATISFACTION
Some empirical studies of service satisfaction suggest that “the human interaction component of service delivery is essential to the determination of satisfaction and dissatisfaction” (Bitner, 1990). According to Anderson and Sullivan (1993), when consumers’ perceived service quality performance falls short of their expectation, they become dissatisfied. Lewis and Spyrakopoulos (2001), in their research conducted on UK retail banking, categorized the causes of dissatisfaction in banking sector into five groups i.e.
1) Banking Procedures:
- Bureaucracy and slow banking, and
- Failure to keep customers fully aware of their banking situation.
2) Mistakes (i.e. wrong statement)
3) Employee behavior and training:
- Employees ignorant of certain banking procedures and
- Employees unwilling or slow to help the customer
4) Functional or technical failures:
- Long and/or unorganized queues
- ATM’s out of order
- Limited network or branches
- Incomprehensible statements of accounts, terms of loans, conversions etc.
5) Action or omission of the bank that are against the sense of fair trade.
Yanamandram and White (2004), in their research mentioned nine factors as main reasons ofdissatisfaction. These are lack of branch locations, high interest rates on loans etc, low interest rates on savings, long waiting periods, number of accounts fees, high account fees, poor counter fees, poor counter service, e-banking confusing, poor telephone banking service and others.
Furthermore Johnston (1995), in his research demonstrated that, for personal customer of banks, the main sources of satisfaction are attentiveness, responsiveness, care and friendliness whereas the main sources of dissatisfaction are lack of integrity, reliability, responsiveness, availability and functionality. Further he argued that, all the reasons of dissatisfaction are not necessarily the other face
of the sources of satisfaction though responsiveness is key component in providing satisfaction and the lack of it is a major source of dissatisfaction.
Gronroos, C. (1984), cited in Panther and Farquhar (2004), argued service industry is much prone to entail greater dissatisfaction than products because both technical and functional aspects have an impact on consumer evaluation of the services. In financial services, self-service technologies (SSTs) become more wining tool to deal with
customers resulting in customer dissatisfaction. To illustrate banks have adopted internet banking as service delivery tool, with a view to providing better and lowering costs, and sometimes new services to their customers.
Further, they explained that presently as a regular practice banks start offering self-service technologies without having carefully studied what the true outcomes will be when customers interact with technology without a human component in the service encounter. SSTs interact with customer in a pre-designed way, rather than understanding individual customer’s need.
Bitner (1990), found several satisfactions and dissatisfaction drivers applying criticalincident techniques. They identified key actions such as employee response to customer needs and requests, failure of service recovery action, lack of prompt and spontaneous employee actions result in both satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
Day and Bodur (1977) argued in their research that in most cases dissatisfaction is directly linked with quality of suppliers performance. In their research most frequently mentioned reason for dissatisfaction was, “The service was rendered in a careless, unprofessional manner.”
Some researchers observe dissatisfaction drivers are determined at the time when customers directly interact with a service. Some aspects of a service may not be persuasive for customer satisfaction but can lead to strong dissatisfaction when they are under performed. On the other hand, some aspects of service lead to satisfaction if delivered properly, but may not necessarily emerge dissatisfaction if absent (Srijumpa , 2007).
Furthermore, Bolfing (1989), argued that “Heterogeneity and intangible nature of services itself frequently produced situation in which customers needs are misjudged or mishandled resulting in customers’ dissatisfaction”. That is the nature of services itself is also a source of dissatisfaction.
IMPROVEMENT OF CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS
Gummesson (1999), finds three different options that a customer can choose between when he or she feels dissatisfied with something that involves their present supplier where the first one is to exit – the customers leave for a competitor, or stop buying the goods or services temporarily or permanently.
This option is also pointed out by Brandt (2003), who states that if a customer is not satisfied with the product or the salesperson, he or she simply does not purchase from the company again. The second choice is called voice – the customers speak their mind and demand correction, and the third option is loyalty – the customers remain loyal for lack of alternative suppliers or prohibitive switching costs, inertia, ideological reasons and others, at least within limits.
All these options are used by customers according to Gummesson, who continues that the feeling behind them, however, is largely a black box to suppliers. Recovery is more than settling a claim, it is the restoration and strengthening of a long-term relationship and the course of action must be constructive, not just a mechanical
routine. If the recovery is successful, continues Gummesson (1999) strengthened by Brandt (2003), then a well resolved customer complaint can create a solid relationship, sometimes better than before the incident. Another aspect that can be turned into something positive according to Arnerup and Edvardsson (1992) is that although many companies consider a customer complaint as something negative, they should instead use it as a possibility to learn more about the customers needs, improve the conditions to satisfy them and strengthen the relationship with them.
Nyer (2000) states that customers who were encouraged to complain reported great increase in satisfaction. The author continues that the indirect benefits occurs
when an unhappy customer complains, which leads the employee to respond in a way that makes the customer less dissatisfied in the future, and therefore benefits the company as well.
Research has shown that excellent complaint management and service recovery can significantly influence customer satisfaction (Johnston, 2001). Furthermore the majority of highly satisfying experiences were the result of something that went wrong and the organization making the effort to compensate the customer: “The recovery of failures can provide a major opportunity for organizations to create very satisfied customers”.
The critical issue is that it is not necessarily the failure itself that leads to customer dissatisfaction; many customers accept that things can go wrong; instead, it is more likely to be the organizations response (or lack of response) to a failure that causes satisfaction or dissatisfaction (Johnston, 2001). Kahn (1995, p. 97) has similar opinions, when emphasizing that it is beneficial to companies to encourage their customer to perform complaints when they are upset or dissatisfied, since these customers can become even more loyal and satisfied customers in the future.
Halstead and Page (reported in Johnston, 2001) also find that complaint handling processes shows a clear relationship with loyalty and repurchases intentions.
Furthermore, customers who have been successfully recovered not only remain loyal, but can become advocates for the organization, and as such be a source of referral business because word of mouth can be very persuasive in terms of influencing customers to use an organization and its services claims Spreng et al (reviewed in Johnston, 2001). Brandt (2003) follows the same track, describing that customers who experiences a good service recovery will spread more goodwill
than even your otherwise best loyal customers do.
Soderlund (1999), claims that even though a customer has shown dissatisfaction and directed complaints towards the company, he or she does not necessarily has to be “lost” to the company, a pleasing reaction and action can turn the annoyance to satisfaction. In many cases, a good recovery can turn upset customers into even more loyal customers and strengthen relationships. Customer retention has been shown to have a direct impact on revenue and profitability states Loveman (reported in Johnston, 2001).
Loyal customers tend to buy more, and are willing to pay premium prices, and the company needs to spend less money on marketing activities, all of which increase revenue and profitability according to Johnston (2001). Companies need to understand that even though it is possible to retain dissatisfied customers, it can be difficult since not all customer complain to the company, out of 25 per cent dissatisfied customer, only 5 per cent finds making the effort of complaining worth.
While according to Kotler (2003) and out of these 5 per cent, half of the customers report a satisfactory resolution.
On average, continues the author, a dissatisfied customer gripes to 11 other persons whereas the satisfied customer only tells three other people, this is also commented by Soderlund, (1997) who finds that satisfied