It is important to emphasise that the researcher was unable to influence the questions asked and response options in the survey conducted. However, the variables investigated had sufficient breadth and depth, and comparability to previous research for analysis and the subsequent formation of valid conclusions.
One of the main findings arising from this study is that overall satisfaction is very high for customers of retail banking in the UK. This contradicts the findings of the Cruickshank Report (Wolgast, 2001). The Cruickshank Report although severely criticised, highlighted that the UK banking industry in general had low service quality implying low customer satisfaction while the First Direct study in 1994 suggested that 25% of the population consider that banks provide unsatisfactory service. The findings of this study however indicate otherwise, and in light of mergers and consolidations, it can be concluded that the UK retail banking industry is satisfying its customers most favourably.
In previous studies, Levesque et al (1996) suggested that customer satisfaction with Canadian retail banks derived from service quality dimensions, service features and pricing issues, as well as problems and its recovery. This investigation into the determinants of satisfaction in a UK setting identified in-branch satisfaction, economic satisfaction, remote services satisfaction and ATM satisfaction as contributing to overall satisfaction. In-branch satisfaction was found to be the most important factor followed by economic satisfaction, and remote services satisfaction, with the least influence by ATM satisfaction. In-branch satisfaction included factors such as speed of service in-branch, employee behaviour as well as branch convenience. These findings concur with the findings by Levesque et al (1996) because in-branch satisfaction includes both core and relational service quality factors. In fact, a survey by Nationwide in 20012, highlighted that although the number of people banking online has increased and is increasing rapidly, people still want choice and the reassurance of having a branch nearby. For managers, the significantly large influence of in-branch satisfaction implies that it is still considered as a main factor in evaluation of satisfaction. In satisfying customers, both staff and convenience of the branch facility should continuously be assessed and upgraded, as it is still the main delivery channel for banking. The role of staff, in terms of their behaviour and expertise in their jobs become issues of prime importance as findings show it to be a significant factor in determining satisfaction both for in-branch as well as for remote services.
In the model of customer satisfaction developed by Parasuraman et al (1994) product quality, pricing and service were factors in the evaluation of services leading to customer satisfaction. Not surprisingly, it was found in this study that the second largest determinant of customer satisfaction was economic factors. Pricing factors were also indicated in Levesque’s et al (1996) study, highlighting that bank charges and interest rates do determine the overall satisfaction of the customer. Added fine-tuning of these elements for respective segments may be able to increase the overall satisfaction of customers in retail banking in the UK. In terms of the determinants of satisfaction, it was found that customers were more satisfied with factors in-branch and ATM factors. These had higher satisfaction ratings compared to remote services and economic factors. In fact economic factors registered the lowest mean satisfaction scores. This has important implications with regards to areas in bank charges and interest rates, which require attention in retail banking in the UK.
The findings of this study clearly establish the influence of four main factors for customer satisfaction in retail banking, reaffirming the importance of the in-branch elements as a main factor followed by economic factors (although rated lowly) in improving or maintaining customer satisfaction in retail banks.
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