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A Study on Customer Satisfaction in Banking Industry in Sri Lanka

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION World class companies have taken more market share by providing notably better customer service. Executives know that to stand out in a crowded field of competitors, customer service is a very critical component in achieving and maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction. When pressures move the organization to meet only performance goals and measurements such as overhead absorption, shipping dollar targets, labour efficiency, purchase price variance and the like, however, customer service often takes a back seat to these other concerns.

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The result can be a plunge in customer satisfaction and ultimately, if allowed to continue, erosion in market shares. Because of globalization, internationalization, technical innovations, law deregulations, and market saturation, the current situation of the banking industry is changing. The intensity of competition increases due to new products and services as well as the entrance of competitors from other industries, such as the so-called non- and near-banks. Even more, the continuously growing educational standard as well as better opportunities to gather information induce enormous changes in customer behavior.

Thus, competition for customers becomes more difficult and, considering the growing intensity of competition, the major banks’ need for sustained competitive advantage increases Organisations often think the way to measure customer satisfaction is to examine the number of customer complaints. The problems with this method is that it is reactive, it only responds (if at all) after the event and it does not really measure satisfaction only dissatisfaction. Monitoring complaint levels does not really tell if the customers are any more or less satisfied with the product or service.

For example, consider how many times you have been dissatisfied with a product or service – say once a month. Now how many times have you written to complain – possibly once or twice or maybe never. Managers and Directors often say “if our customers are unhappy, they soon tell us”. Well do they? If on a personal level you rarely write to complain, what happens as a company level – is it different? Here is an example of an organisations basing its customer satisfaction strategy on levels of customer complaints and getting badly misled. In a Warehousing organisation, customers were unable to obtain product (spares, consumables, etc. from the newly relocated, reorganised and centralised warehouse. Deliveries were often late or wrong if they arrived at all. The customer complained verbally but being unable to obtain their spare or consumable, spent their time looking for an alternate supplier rather than wasting their time complaining. The customer could not afford the time to complain, they were too busy avoiding their processes from stopping by sourcing the required items from another supplier. The Warehouse turnover plummeted. “If our customers are unhappy we’ll soon know about it” said management.

Well, they didn’t at least not until it was too late and they had lost 90% of their customers. Yes 90%. There is obviously a strong link between customer satisfaction and customer retention. Customer’s perception of Service and Quality of product will determine the success of the product or service in the market. With better understanding of customers’ perceptions, companies can determine the actions required to meet the customers’ needs. They can identify their own strengths and weaknesses, where they stand in comparison to their competitors, chart out path future progress and improvement.

Customer satisfaction measurement helps to promote an increased focus on customer outcomes and stimulate improvements in the work practices and processes used within the company. In any type of business, whether companies are selling toy airplanes or offering massages, customer satisfaction plays a key role in the success of the business. Much like employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction is important to consider when running a business Companies that care about their success always care about customer satisfaction.

The customer is the end user and if they aren’t happy with the product or service then they might not return to purchase the product or service again. This usually results in the business losing money, due to poor customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction emerged from consumer studies that sought to quantify the basic assumption implicate in the marketing concept that satisfied customers are more likely to have a positive attitude towards the product and re buy it. The value of satisfaction is often underestimated. Loyal customers and employees affect an organization’s success, which can be difficult to quantify.

Loyal customers grow business by increasing market share. Over a lifetime, a loyal customer purchases more, purchases at a premium (they are less sensitive to price), costs less to sell to, and refers the company business to others. Employees, especially those on the front line, directly impact customer satisfaction. An essential part of assessing satisfaction includes identifying dissatisfaction. Dissatisfied customers and employees often hold the information what the company need to succeed. Understanding when and why dissatisfaction occurs helps the organization to implement changes to gain and retain future customers and employees.

Measuring customer satisfaction is an important element of providing better, more effective and efficient services. When clients are not satisfied with a service as provided, the service is neither effective nor efficient. This is especially important in relation to the provision of public services. Under conditions of perfect competition, where clients are able to choose between alternative service providers and have adequate information, client satisfaction is a key determinant of the level of demand and therefore, the operation and functioning of suppliers.

However when a single agency, either government or private sector, is the sole provider of services, the level of client satisfaction is often overlooked when assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of services. Customer satisfaction is the extent to which the desires and the requirements of the clients are met. A service is considered satisfactory if it fulfils the needs and expectations of the customers. There are many factors taken into consideration by the customers in appraising the services provided, including: promptness, reliability, technical expertise, expectations, quality and price. . 1 RESEARCH PROBLEM ANALYSIS The staffs in the front office fail to deliver goods in the proper way to the customers due their inefficiencies where by the customer gets frustrated by the service rendered of the front office staffs and goes to the extent of closing their accounts and look for another bank who could better service for the customers. Due to this problem customers maintain several bank accounts in many banks to consume better services. This problem was faced by the researcher and some informal discussions were done by the researcher with some other banking customers.

They also experienced some similar problems with their banks’ services. This gave an idea to researcher to do a research in customer satisfaction level in the banking industry in Srilanka. 1. 2 IMPORTANCE OF CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: ENSURING FUTURE REVENUES A renewed focus on customer service and satisfaction leads to improved customer loyalty and increased revenue. For example, reducing customer churn by 1 percent can translate into the same percentage increase in revenue. Particularly in industries characterized by low switching costs and products that are dif? ult to differentiate, customer service offers a way of providing distinct value to the customer. The company gives excellent services customer satisfaction other brands become less important and switching costs decline, the importance of customer service has increased and, in some industries, become the major differentiator. Companies that align themselves to better serve their customers enjoy lower customer churn, lower costs, and higher pro? ts, since satis? ed, loyal customers purchase additional products and services. At the same time, customers expect better service.

They expect their requirements to be fulfilled promptly and their issues resolved quickly and to their satisfaction. Long periods spent on hold, multiple transfers, and interactions with inexperienced or poorly trained customer service representatives can damage the relationship. Accordingly, every customer interaction has the potential to either strengthen the relationship or drive the customer to a competitor. 1. 3 CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND LOYALTY: FOCUSING ON THE LONG TERM Achieving high customer satisfaction levels, low churn rates, and effective cross-selling requires a strategy that balances the seemingly con? cting factors that affect organisation performance. Such a strategy can increase overall business performance by balancing ef? ciency-based measures with effectiveness measures that emphasize customer service and cross-selling. Whether an organisation is focused primarily on servicing customers or generating additional sales revenue, maximizing the value of customer interactions depends on a company’s ability to clearly understand the factors impacting performance and make decisions that leverage or resolve hose factors. Through this level of insight, organisation can achieve and maintain high satisfaction levels and higher revenues while keeping their costs as low as possible. 1. 4 NEED OF CUSTOMER SATISFACTION RESEARCH Spending on customer satisfaction research by American industry has grown tremendously – in recent years, and a number of trends suggest that the need for this type of research will continue to rise in the years ahead, particularly among firms that sell to other organizations.

The following reasons induce organizations to conduct research on customer satisfaction. Companies are buying more, but from fewer suppliers Business and government markets are growing, but getting tougher to sell to. Organizations bought more than $8. 3 trillion worth of goods and services in 1993, according to Penton Research Services’ estimates. Spending has increased every year since 1982, even during the 1990-91 recessions. Companies forced to downsize in recent years are now buying many of the goods and services they used to produce internally.

Goods-producing industries outsource the most, although government – which is privatizing a number of operations – and many service firms expect to do more outsourcing in the years ahead. Total business and government purchases are expected to double over the next decade, reaching $17. 5 trillion by the year 2005. However, it’s also becoming more difficult for suppliers to get – and keep – customers. A Penton Research Services study found that 40 percent of large business and government units are buying from fewer suppliers than they were five years ago, even though the amount purchased is up.

And nine out of ten purchasing executives at Fortune 1000 companies surveyed by the Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies (91 percent) expect to use fewer sources of supply in the year 2000. Business and government buyers want to establish partnerships with their suppliers. Properly-conducted customer satisfaction research can help a company build stronger relationships with both current clients and key prospects. Customer power is increasing The balance of power in business transactions is shifting to the customer.

According to a study conducted by Arthur Andersen in conjunction with the Distribution Research and Education Foundation, the buyer’s ability to dictate such terms and conditions as billing and pricing is expected to increase during the ’90s, while the power of suppliers/ manufacturers and wholesaler-distributors decreases. As buyers gain power, they’ll have increased leverage to set standards for product quality and specifications, delivery time, and service. More than half of the executives surveyed by the Gallup Organization (53 percent) report that demands from their company’s customers are rising or changing a great deal.

Research allows a supplier to truly hear the voice of the customer and tailor its product/service mix to changing buyer needs. Suppliers need to satisfy multiple buying influences Companies selling to industry, have to please a number of different individuals within customer organizations, each with their own needs and agendas. According to a Penton Research Services survey, the number of people involved in a buying decision ranges from about three, for services and items used in day-to- day operations, to almost five, for such high-ticket purchases as construction work and machinery.

A Forsyth Group analysis of buying decisions at one large firm, Harnischfeger, showed that the number of individuals involved in the purchase of a single type of product could exceed 50. In addition, it’s not going to get any easier for suppliers. A Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies survey found that 87 percent of the purchasing executives at Fortune 1000 companies expect teams of people from different departments and functions to be making buying decisions in the year 2000.

A well-designed customer satisfaction measurement program that targets key buying influences can help keep current customers sold and identify ways to win over non-customers. Quality is still job one Customers want a good price, but refuse to sacrifice quality or service to get it. A Penton Research Services survey of business and government decision-makers found that quality is the single most important factor in choosing a supplier. Price received the second largest number of mentions, followed by reputation, delivery time, and technical assistance.

In fact, nine out of 10 business buyers believe that paying a higher price for quality is more cost-effective in the long run, and according to a study conducted by Kane, Parsons & Associates, most executives (86 percent) prefer to do business with suppliers that have made a formal commitment to quality improvement and customer satisfaction. The buyer, not the seller, determines what attributes of a product or service constitute quality, and research can provide an objective measure of what customers think, correctly or incorrectly, about a company and its competition.

The rate of change is fast and getting faster American industry is in a continual state of flux. There are more than 8,200 new business incorporations, failures, acquisitions, address changes, and name changes on the average business day. The buying influences that suppliers need to keep satisfied are also constantly changing. A Penton Research Services analysis of changes among managers, engineers, and purchasing agents found that more than 20 percent leave their company, change job titles, or transfer to another location over the course of a year.

This means that more than half of the buying influences will probably change in some way within three years. Most of the executives surveyed by the Gallup Organization believe that the current rate of change at their company is rapid or extremely rapid, and 61 percent of them think that the pace of change will accelerate in the future. Companies selling to industry have to continually monitor the marketplace to be able to respond quickly to changes in buying procedures, factors influencing the purchase, and the people making the buying decision.

Customer satisfaction research will be needed more than ever by firms that want to survive – and thrive – in the challenging years ahead. 1. 5 CORE BANKING FUNCTIONS Banking has always been a changing industry. Lord Denning, once observed; “Like many other beings, a banker is easier to recognise than to define”. (D G Hanson, Page 1). D G Hanson in his popular book on Service Banking writes, “We are tempted to say that banking is what one cares to make it”. Whatever way one defines a bank, a banker or the business of anking, it appears that, despite a large spectrum of financial services that banks have embarked on to offer, certain fundamental economic functions of Banking remain yet to be fully substituted. To understand this proposition it may be necessary to look at Banking from both a traditional functional view, i. e. a functional analysis and from a logical business and economic view, i. e. an economic analysis. A Functional Analysis A functional analysis of banking business will look at the apparent activities that a bank performs. The activities are numerous and more keep adding to the list.

The Banking Act No 30 of 1988 defines the business of banking as ““banking business” means the business of receiving funds from the public through the acceptance of money, deposits payable upon demand by cheque, draft, order or otherwise, and the use of such funds either in whole or in part for advances, investments or any other operation either authorized by law or by customary banking practices;” This definition mainly deals with the aspect of banking where the function invariably looks at the maintenance of demand deposits commonly known as current accounts.

Current Accounts are maintained only by Licensed Commercial Banks. Does this mean that only Commercial Banks carry on the business of Banking? Probably not so. There are other institutions and instruments that perform most of the economic functions of Banking. It is important, therefore, for us to analyse the economic functions more than the activities of Banking. The concentration of this article will therefore be on Economic Functions.

Nevertheless, it is useful to look at the activities that banks do carryout with a view to analysing the Economic Functions. The Banking Amendment Act No: 33 of 1995 by its section 31 that introduces section 76A to the Act, to provide for Specialised Banking, restricts the carrying on of the business of accepting deposits of money and investing and lending such money to be only by a company which has an equity capital in an amount not less than Rs 50 Million and under the authority of a licence issued by the Monetary Board.

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