1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Customers are the lifeline to any business that looks to be successful both in the present and in the near future. It is customers that brings profits to every surviving business. Most companies and institutions are moving from product based services to customer based services which are keys to increased profitability. The Business Dictionary defines a customer as a party that receives or consumes products and has the ability to choose between different products and suppliers.
Retaining such customers which could be individuals or companies will require a provider of quality services to customers which may lead to customer loyalty. Kurtenbach (2000) explains that those who are successful in customer service rank their customer’s experience as the top priority. Ettore (2001) is of the view that, concentrating on current customer data can be used to better understand their view of quality service provided. The quality of service provided determines will determine customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
Quality has been defined as fitness for use or the extent to which a product successfully serves the purposes of consumers (Beverly et al., 2002). Customer service is one of the organizational processes which companies perform considering the growing competition and for attracting entrepreneurial opportunities for increasing profitability and better access to the market and
increasing the customer satisfaction and loyalty level (Calif, 1987). According to Goofin and Price (1996), customer service has importance because it ends in increasing product quality,
gaining competitive advantage, gaining profitable opportunities, and as a result, increasing sales and income. Quality customer service has also been linked to customer satisfaction leading to customer loyalty.
Customer satisfaction is the level at which products and services meet the needs of customers. Customer satisfaction is described as a comparison of the customers’ expectations and his or her perception of service quality (Herington & Weaven, 2009). There are factors which affect the level at which customers are satisfied with a particular service. According to Hokinson (1995, 13), these factors include friendly employees, knowledgeable employees, helpful employees, an accuracy of billing, billing timeliness, competitive pricing, service quality, good value, billing clarity, and quick service. Having well-trained employees will definitely lead to a satisfied customer and this customer may decide to stick to the organization without looking at the change in the prices of products.
Lovelock and Wirtz 2007 defines customer loyalty as a customer deciding to stick with a supplier who treats him well and gives him good value in the long term even if the supplier does not offer the best price in a particular transaction. Lovelock and Wirtz (2007, 486) also mention in their book that customer loyalty is much more than repeat purchases. A customer may not directly buy a product on a regular basis but recommendations to family and friends may be the lifeline to the growth of the business. Building customer loyalty is not a choice for businesses rather it’s a key role in sustainability. Though there is no definite rule to create customer loyalty, studies by Bonsal and Gupta (2001) shows that focusing on key customers,
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generating a high level of customer satisfaction with every interaction proactively, understanding customer needs and demand, then respond to them before the competition does and develop closer ties with customers and finally create a value perception, are all ways of getting a customer glued to products and services
There are over 33 banks in Ghana thus, providing and keeping up with efficient and effective quality service is a challenge. The banking industry in Ghana has now become a competitive one as banks are coming up with new products and services in order to keep up with the market, increase their customer base and retain their customers. Fidelity Bank is known as such a bank who keep bringing up new products and services to keep up. This research will focus on how these services keep their customer satisfied and loyal.
1.1 Problem Statement
Customer service effects on customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are becoming the most useful objectives for any firm seeking a long-term relationship with customer considers as the top priority. In retail banking context where the contacts with customers are one of the most core business processes, customer satisfaction is becoming the key for success (Belas ; Gabcova, 2014; Belas, Cipovova ; Demjan, 2014; Chavan ; Ahmad, 2013). There are also many types of relationship between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty suggested such as satisfaction as the core of loyalty, satisfaction as one of the necessary components of loyalty, satisfaction and loyalty are the components of ultimate loyalty and satisfaction as the starting point of loyalty (Munari, Ielasi ; Bjetta, 2013).
Studies confirm that there is a positive correlation between customer service, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty, having customer satisfaction as a mediator (Chodzaza ; Gombachika, 2013; Chu et al., 2012). In the banking sector context, the service quality- loyalty relationship is also supposed to be mediated by customer satisfaction(Hassan, Malik, Imran, Amna, ; Abbas, 2013; Lee ; Moghavvemi, 2015). Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty play an important role in the service industry.
Fidelity Bank has customer centeredness as one of his main vision and the basis of this research in choosing Fidelity Bank, headquarters in Accra, is to find out what customer service practices they are using and whether customers are satisfied with it. This is because customer satisfaction will determine customer loyalty to the bank.
1.2 Objectives of the study
1. To identify the effects of customer service on customer satisfaction and customer loyalty
2. To determine the perception of customers on fidelity bank’s customer service
3. To find out the effectiveness of customer loyalty on organizational performance
4. To identify the barriers to customer service provided by employees of Fidelity bank.
1.3 Research questions
1. What are the effects of customer service on customer satisfaction and customer loyalty?
2. What is the perception of customers on the service of Fidelity bank?
3. What is the effectiveness of customer loyalty on organizational performance?
4. What are the barriers to providing effective customer service?
1.4 Significance of the study
The study will serve as a reference point to Fidelity bank to appreciate the importance of customers satisfaction about their services and how far that will go in promoting customer loyalty which intends will grow the customer base of the bank leading to increased profitability as stated by Belas & Gabcova, 2014; Belas, Cipovova & Demjan, 2014; Chavan & Ahmad, 2013. As fidelity bank has been customer-centric as one of their vision statement, it will help appreciate the link between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty (Munari, Ielasi & Bjetta, 2013).
The study will also serve as a reference for students and other researchers who are willing to ply this line of research in the future and add up to the already existing literature on Customer service, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, specifically the Banking industry, suggesting better ways to improve customer service.
1.5 Scope of the study
The bank being studied was issued with its universal banking license on June 28th, 2006, making Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited, the 22nd bank to be licensed by the Bank of Ghana under the new Banking Act, 2004 (Act 673). The Bank is owned by Ghanaian individuals, other institutional investors and its senior executives. Fidelity has the satisfaction of their customers at heart, coming out with a range of products to keep their customers happy. Their headquarters situated in Accra will be the main focus of this research.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
Due to time constraints, the research will only be limited to Accra, using the headquarters as the main focus.
The researcher may not be able to cover a large scale number in terms of the population of both employees of the bank and customers as well.
1.7 Organization of the Study
The final report shall consist of five chapters.
1. The first chapter consists of an introduction, problem statement, research objectives and questions, the scope of the study and limitation of the study.
2. Chapter two will cover the literature review consisting of theories and empirical studies on Customer service, Customer satisfaction, and Customer Loyalty and also elaborating on the research objectives.
3. Chapter three will consist of the methodology used for the study and data collection.
4. Chapter four will also provide a presentation analysis and discussions of data gathered from questionnaires and interviews,
5. Chapter five will provide a summary of findings, conclusions, and recommendations to the study.