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In today's competitive, fast-paced and global economy, financial service has placed increasing emphasis on customer service as a means of gaining competitive advantage (Sarah Cook, 1995). The nature and number of competitors and the ability of retailers, banks, government deregulation and other financial service companies to offer similar products at similar prices has led to increasing emphasis being placed on personal service as a means of adding value to customers.
Providing an exceptional customer service is no longer an added benefit, is a necessity, customer who are not satisfied with the way they are treated can easily take their business elsewhere, exceptional service is accomplished by positively interaction through effective communication and relationship building. Exceptional customer service will bring unexpected result, whether you give a good customer service or poor customer, the people will tell other how they are treated (Renee, 2005). Customer service is about consciously building customer centred organisation where employees are focused on serving their customers both internal and external for sustained, profitable growth, (Michael, 2003). How well you communicate and establish relationship with your customer is the meaning of customer service, the relationship may not be long the instant relationship is customer service, moving away from an intense focus on product development to lay much emphasis on relationship development (Karen and Keith, 2006). Customer service is the key issue to any organisation which involves the entire staff member of the company from the executive to the least staff of any organisation for not losing their ground to the competitors, customer is the foundation of any business we must delight our customer to keep the business in existence. Also, purpose of any organisation is to create a customer, why not give the exceptional service to them in order to achieve the purpose of the organisation (Ian Linton, 1994).
Customer service should not be seen as a necessary attachment to financial service, but an integral part of business, especially at it deals with customers - the real assets of companies operation in a fiercely competitive market (Bryan and Merlin, 2002).
This section will give the background of the research since the customer is the key of any business, it gives the importance of customer service in financial services, reasons for developing customer service, benefits of customer service to financial service, how to improve customer service, the research questions will be answered in the literature review.
In the banking sector the customer service involves diverse of relationship between the providers and their customers especially personnel are tools in creation and provision of services quality service, they need to take care of the customer by meeting their needs and well satisfy, we must put customer first, listen to them, by listening to your customers and providing them with the products and services they really want, you can gain and keep your share of the market, solve their problems, it make you retain the customers, provide products and services to meet their need and be friendly with them, it includes service to the customer, delivery, operations, employee and management. In meeting customer need, banking sectors must manage product and service, delivery system, environment and people so as to provide an efficient and caring service getting things done appropriately and maintaining standard. Customer care and good service must be the work of all the staff from management level to all staff which brings together executive, marketing, operations and human resources management.
Reasons for developing customer service
The reason for customer service is controlled by customers, employees and a changing business environment, customer can be individual, household, group or organisation are aware of competitors in financial services or provider organisation and also of rising standard of service they are willing to give compare to service they receive therefore, expectation of consumer rise and become faulty finding of the quality of service they receive and so organisation can be never be less concerned. Also knowledge of cost and benefit from the existing customer compare to attract new customer draws companies' attention to good customer service to existing customer, meeting their needs and complaint, developing long-term relationship, companies must understand that good customer service does not disagree with profitability.
Looking after employee is also a chance for an organisation not place a target amount for them to meet capital base to the bank because employee is an internal customer, as organisation become larger they may also become anonymous and bureaucratic which dissatisfy the employee. Communication may deteriorate any relationship between customer and customer contact personnel, between customer contact staff, between management may suffer. Also in a recessionary climate, cost-cutting exercise, re-organisation and redundancy can impart on staff morale, motivation and performance. In spite of this company should realise that commitment to employees bring companies rewards and more benefit it also encourage employee participation.
Another reason for developing customer service is the business environment, this create need for customer services, the business environment is typical economic, legal and technology which is not stable, recent deregulation in financial service has increased competition between providers, which provides more choice for the consumer. In this business environment banking sectors must emphasize operations and financial efficiency and focused more on product and market strategy. Additionally, they can focus more on customer service (quality in the corporate and marketing strategies). Exceptional customer service must be seen as tool to achiever differentiation and a competitive advantage, so it has become integral direction and planning for BankPHB. Customer service is such an outstanding issue that no major financial service provider can overlook whilst other are improving the quality of service levels.
Benefit of Customer Service
In the absence of focus on customer service and quality financial service organisation will face challenges and complaints from both employees and customer, which will affect the sales and profitability of the organisation and associated financial and other costs. Also, a number of unsatisfied customers will complain and tell others, generating unfavourable word of mouth, publicity and some may move to competitors. However, with focus on customer service e and organisation can expect a number of benefits such as:
Customer Loyalty: Taking good care of existing customer can cause repeat and increase business and lead to attract new customer from positive word of mouth to others by existing customer communication. Customer retention is more cost effective, loyalty to the company will make the customer to be an advocated that create a reputation for being a caring customer oriented company.
Increased opportunities to sell: Understanding and complete product knowledge and sales techniques among employee together with develop interaction and rapport with customer enable staff to know customer needs and suggest appropriate product and service that will satisfy the customer.
Employee satisfaction: When employee is taken care is increased job satisfaction, morale and commitment to the company good employer - employee relationship and increased staff loyalty which contribute to reducing the rate of staff turnover and the associated costs of recruitment, selection and training activities. Happy commitment and competent employees will also make fewer mistakes and this lead to fewer complaints from customer and contribute to cost savings and increase the profitability of the organisation. Also good customer service improve the corporate quality image and provide protection form price competition, above all successful service leads to reduce costs such as mistakes, operating and advertising and promotions, and increase productivity and sales, market shares, profitability and business performance.
HOW TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE
Changing nature of customer service
BankPHB needs to change or improve the traditional way they do business with their customer, using sales representative as the only means of increase their capital base is risky, is seen as public humiliating to the representative, telling the representative to get certain deposit to the bank or get fired what is needed for BankPHB and other financial service provider in Nigeria like other financial services in United Kingdom is to inject innovation to life-blood of the organisation so that it becomes part of its very being, such as telephone banking service, effective internet banking service this focus on speed, convenience, quality and service for the customer and less work for the employee. Also BankPHB needs to be more customer-focused than product focused.
Creating customer-centric systems
BankPHB must be willing to change the policies which has become blueprint that sales representative or marketer should bring deposit less than that they will be sacked the prospect of customer centric can be very great, this system may hurt initially, but is a good prospect.
Business essential and top management involvement: BankPHB must understand that it is a clear that unless there is a business essential for customer retention and top management is fully committed to customer service there is little chance to success. Customer orientation need to accustom the organisation mission, vision, value and objectives it needs to be both executives and senior managers' word and actions
Service strategy and goals: To be successful in competitive market and a customer focused organisation, BankPHB must have a clear strategy and a set of specific and measurable goals for service improvements
People development: Training and development is an essential in promoting customer service philosophy, there must be often training and development for the staff and customer which company can benefit because this will enhance their attitude towards the customer in a positive way their behaviour, knowledge and skill, and make the organisation more flexible, proactive and customer focused in the face of strong competitor, the quality of leadership in an organisation is an indicator to success.
Communication: Communication is life-blood of an organisation to sustain and develop a service initiative, effective communication about customers, competitor and the best practice in customer service can create a positive change to BankPHB. The development of communication media to convey the service philosophy is a vital means of creating awareness of the organisation, communication can be verbal or written
Reward and recognition: Organisation with best practice provides a motivating environment for their customers and employee b rewarding and recognising the employee and the customer for their contribution to achievement of the organisation and implores them to do more.
Customer-driven process: BankPHB must do business with its customer in a way that matches the customers' needs not its own.
Changing customer expectation
Because of the technology consumers expectation are high they want better service which will give them satisfaction, they want greater choice and will not be sold to or manipulated.
Value for time
BankPHB and all other banks in Nigeria must value the time of their customers by providing self service such as effective cash machine, where you can withdraw your money 24hours without long queue in the banking hall an effective internet banking sitting at home pay bills, check your account balance and telephone banking if customer has any issue to clarify is easy to do on telephone than going to the bank waiting for the Manager to call head office for clarification which can take two to four days it is time consuming, the process of value for time resulted to easy customer and employee satisfaction.
Know your customer rights
Customers know their rights they tend to be unsatisfied if is violated and complain, majority of BankPHB customers complain about loan promised to give them is their right, to get loan without security if they have good records, they likely to make their opinion known if they violate this right. BankPHB must keep to the right of customers.
One of the greatest changes that can improve customer service in BankPHB is technology, checking account balance on internet, pay bills, open account, debit and credit alert via phone the use of technology can potentially revolutionise BankPHB relationship with customer, bank representative can visit customer input data via computer and print out cheque, use technology to wish the customer wishes on their memorable days like wedding anniversary, birthday it gives customer existed. Technology gives customer self service.
What is customer service?
Ability to provide an exceptional service is a perquisite of both attracting new customers and retaining the existing customers, but customer service is the perception of the customer to the service given, and the perception is based on their expectation, if a customer receives service better than the expectation is excellent service, but if customer receives less than the expectation is bad service.
To provide excellent service BankPHB must exceeds customer expectations "under-promise, over deliver", keep to promise never guarantee what cannot be delivered, to win customer today BankPHB needs to delight and astound the customers with products and services that beyond their expectations.
The main concern of great service organisation today is on the total customer experience. The customer experience of the organisation based on the effective communication/marketing efforts its package and interaction with employees as well as its products or services. Financial service provider in United Kingdom Barclays Bank train their staff to help customer with all their needs such as loan even when you do not need it they will advise you also on insurance which can be of benefit to you and the entire family so that the ethnic of Barclays is brought to life by their staff as they know customer is the key of the business.
Developing a relationship
There must be mutual relationship between the customer and service provider and the way this relationship is managed is pivotal to achieving excellent services. Relationship has become more important in financial services even know your customer by their name. BankPHB customers must be seen as value important as part of the bank not seen as different account to the organisation. Theodore Levitt of the Harvard Business School relates giving good service with building a long-term relationship, or relationship marketing He says: .....the sale - merely consummates the courtship, at which point the marriage begins. How good the marriage is, depends on how well the seller manages the relationship. The quality of the marriage, determines whether there will be continued and expanded business or troubles and divorce
One thing that constant in life is change a successful companies will sustain competitive advantage by transforming their businesses rather than maintaining the traditional way of doing business, that is finding a new way of doing things both for and with customers BankPHB must embrace change through technology by operating 24 hours banking service, getting feedback from customer to help them improve on their service and customer loyalty and satisfaction to the employee.
Contact centres: Is a way of reaching to customer know their need meet their needs 24 hours such as email written as well as telephone request, ease of contact to the service provider, convenience and speed of service are the main benefit of contact centre for the customer. Some financial sectors are using contact centre policy as a marketing tool.
The internet: Is another change to delight our customer if offer them greater speed and choice, 24 hours a day, it enables them to market more quickly and gather direct customer feedback to develop better products and customer loyalty, retailing on the internet is already giving customers a sense of being in control, accessing your balance, pay bills, this has made financial services rethink how they communicate with customers, what they understand markets to be, how they segment and how they plan and advertise their products and services as well as the level of service they provide. Nevertheless, BankPHB website needs to be integrated with the rest of the customer strategy in order to maintain brand synergy.
Customer relationship management (CRM) The process of setting up a customer service infrastructure using contact centre and internet technology is good start to become customer focused than product focused, Customer relationship Management offers opportunity to manage their customers' relationship, because the more information a company has about the customer better, CRM strategies is to identifying desirable customer segments, micro or individual on one to one basis and developing integrated programmed that maximize both value to the customer and lifetime value of customer to the financial services profit enhancing and customer retention. It can also assist to identify sales prospects from existing or potential customer this management serves as an intermediary between the service provider and the user with this management BankPHB can be a better financial service amongst its competitor and known globally.
1.2 Problem area discussion
One of the major problems most financial services are facing is how to manage their customers is the formulation and delivery of their proposition to customers (Bryan and Merlin, 2002). In a customer service strategy for a company, there are often significant changes required in the corporate culture, employee training, technology infrastructure and measurement system, this changes is associated with investment of resources and personal commitment depend on the good leadership of the executive management. Excellent customer service will only be considered a critical success factor if senior management demonstrate their involvement in terms of time, money effort, commitment, persistence and visibility (Sarah, 1995).
BankPHB customers (both internal and external) are not satisfy with the service provided lack of commitment from the senior management, employee such as marketers are left alone to get deposit into the bank which is quite frustrating for the employee due to this the expectation of the customer are not met, let us assume that the senior executive of the business understand the expectation and perceptions of the customer regarding service, which is based on personal experience with the staff or face to face discussions and a sense of perception issues that exist in the minds of target consumers and frontline, service delivery staff.
Also, Executive manager have an intimate understanding of customer expectation and perceptions and have ensured that service standards are relevant and meaningful in marketplace, the culture of the organisation must aligned with the objectives. The company resources is not focused on service standards BankPHB promised customer if you domicile your salary account for three month you will be given loan, after three month the expectation is not met due to this the customers are dissatisfied and willing to take their account to another bank. This is misdirected marketing which creates both explicit and implicit promises in the mind of the customer, when these promises are not fulfilled, customer satisfaction will suffer (Bryan and Merlin 2002).
1.3overall research purpose
Looking at the above discussion, how to help BankPHB engender and sustain customer focus, the purpose of this research is the importance of customer service in an increasingly competitive environment and how effective customer service can help BankPHB enter into global market and the implication of increasing customer expectation and changes in trading patterns exposed.
To address this point above, two research questions are drawn to explain the reason for this research
R Q 1 How can
R Q 2 how did you rate the staff behaviour at BankPHB?
The distance between the researcher and case study financial service and time constraint, also the compilation of the questionnaires, the feedback from the staff may be characterized with similarities and prejudice because management might have influence on their feedback of the questionnaire.
2.1 Improve customer service by technology
Technology can be used to improve the quality of customer service by making easier for service provider to respond to customers' request and satisfy customers' needs, also with right equipment, this technology provide customer with a 24 hours response service this maintain high level of customer loyalty.
Technology can contribute immensely to customer service in this area.
Reliable equipment operation
Customer will be very satisfy if there is reliable operation of their equipment to maintain their competitive business performance; a rapid quality response to service request is vital, a bank cash-dispensing system must be constantly available, technology helps customer to operate on their own business effectively and deliver high standards of service to their customer.
Better account control
The financial service wants to improve account control, technological links not only provide the customer with higher standards of customer service, they help to strengthen relationships with the customer and prevent competitors from taking over.
Service staffs rely on information
The more an organisation know about its customers the better service it can deliver, customer databases can be invaluable in helping customer service staff quickly provide advice and guidance to customer quickly
Consistent local service
a large customer spread over a wide geographical territory and dealing with a financial service through a network of local branches expects a consistent standards of service, if the company does not have the resources to offer the same level of service in each branch it must find a way of centralising and allocating its resources so that customer can be offered that consistency and satisfy.
THE ELEMENT OF CUSTOMER SERVICE
Customer care for the external customer requires an organisation to pay attention to its products/services, delivery systems, delivery environment technology and employees which are highly interdependent.
Product/Service range: This includes both basis and augmented services Gronroos (1987), this is based on the basic or core financial service, may be a current account with associated services which are needed to facilitate consumption of the core services e.g. ATM and another service which are not required but facilitate the service and differentiate with other competitors. The greater service offering includes how the service is delivered and the relationship between a bank and its customers which can be the accessibility of the service, customer participation in the process e.g. use of ATMs and relationship between employees and customers, system and customers and the physical environment and customers.
Delivery Systems:- Delivery systems and procedures must be operate effectively and efficiently, responsive and reliable in order to avoid queuing in the banking hall, Silverstro, Fitzgerald, Johnson and Voss, (1992) refer to three types of service delivery, professional services are described as few transactions, highly customised services a process orientation, relatively long contact time, mass service is example of many customer interaction limited contact time and customization, product orientation with value being added. The level of direct interactions with service providers and customers in delivery process in known as service Encounters or moments of truth. This service encounters may take different forms, a customer wishing to make an enquiry may chooses an interaction with ATM, or bank employee by telephone, by email, face-to-face contact whichever contact the customer chooses especially coming in contact with the bank and its employees, the employee must for an impression of the bank and its service encounter also have an impact on employees in relation to their motivation, performance and job satisfaction and their rewards. Recent perspectives and research relating to service encounter are reported by Bitner (1990), Bitner, Booms and Tetreault (1990) and Larsson (1990).
Delivery Environment: - The delivery environment is another elements of customer service, the environment includes physical design and access aspects and also emotional or atmospheric impact, this involve customer and employees, physical design such as layout, furnishing, noise and music, space for cars, lighting temperature and comfort, most of banks are redesign open-plant to eliminate the barriers between customers and the staff (Greenland, 1994). Access aspects includes hours, availability, convenience of location and security, physical environment research has been carried out by Bitner (1990, 1992) she introduces the concept of "servicescapes" which may involve customers only e.g. (self service), employee only (remote service) or customer-employee relationship which is common is service delivery, she said environment must be conducive for customer satisfaction and employee pleasurable, environment lead to positive customer evaluations of service and desire to spend more time and money, on the other hand, unpleasant environment lead to avoidance.
Technology: - Technology is part of the whole service product, it facilitates customer-company exchange and increase service level, it also increases speed, efficient and accuracy for the employee and better personal service for customer.
Employee:- The function of employee in customer service cannot be overlook, their personal qualities, ability to understand and satisfy customer needs. Gronross (1984a) discussed the outcome of quality of service encounters, the way the service is delivered is done by employee of the financial services this will include attitude and behaviour, appearance and personality, service-mindedness, accessibility and approachability of customer contact personnel. Edvardsson, Gustavsson and Riddle (1989) present four aspects of quality which affects customers' perceptions: Technical, Integrative, Functional and outcome, while LeBlanc and Nguyen (1988) suggests that corporate image, internal organisation physical support of the service producing system, staff-customer interaction and degree of customer satisfaction all are customer service/quality.
Parasuraman Zeithaml and Berry (1985:1988) suggested that he criteria used by consumer that are important in moulding their expectations and perception in ten ways: Tangible i.e. physical evidence, reliability: honouring promise, Responsiveness: readiness to proved service, Communication: telling customer what they need to know, Credibility: Trustworthiness, Security: physical and financial, Competence: skill and knowledge, Courtesy: polite, Understanding: knowing your customer needs, Access: easy to contact.
MEASUREMENT OF CUSTOMER SERVICE
Measurement of customer service can been seen as a different between consumer expectation and perception; Expectations are desires or wants, which people believe that service provider should give, Perceptions are consumer judgement about actual service performance or delivery, if there is shortcoming between predicted and perception there is service quality gap which the provider would like to close. Zeithaml and Parasuraman (1985) are influenced by four other shortcomings/gaps.
Consumer expectation: - (Management perceptions and consumer expectations)
If customer expectation is low (both internal and external) the result might be in lower level of delivery service this is gap, gaps may be closed by market research and better communication between management and personnel.
Management perceptions of Consumer expectations:- when customer needs are known, there may not appropriate service specification due to lack of resources, organisational constraints (such as promise to give loan) absence of management commitment to customer service.
Service quality specifications: - (actual service delivery)
This gap is called service performance gap, when there is difference between management specification and service delivery due to variations in the performance of service personnel. The reason may be the employee is not willing to work or incompetence.
Actual service delivery:- External communication about the service, this gap is when, what said about the service in external communication is different from the service deliver e.g. advertising therefore, it is important not to promise more than what can be deliver.
3.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ANALYSIS OF THE QUESTION