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LOYALTY AND SATISFACTION CONSTRUCT IN RETAIL

BANKING- AN EMPIRICAL STUDY ON BANK CUSTOMERS.

Abstract:
This study investigates customer satisfaction as the most important factor behind
loyalty in retail banking. Various study showed that satisfaction plays an important role to
establish loyal customer base. This study points out that satisfaction and loyalty relationship
is critical for retail banks. Understanding the factors behind loyalty as well as the
antecedents of customer satisfaction is an important issue for academic research as well as
for marketing in financial services. The major aim of this study is to identify satisfaction as
the major factor behind customer loyalty in retail banking. To comply with the aim, two
basic questions has been investigated where one is related to determine the relationship
between satisfaction and loyalty in retail banking, and the second one is to determine the
role of dimensions of service quality towards satisfaction. The research has been carrie d out
through secondary research and primary research. Survey method has been used for primary
research. Personal contact approach through questionnaire has been introduced to conduct
the survey. The findings reveal that satisfaction and loyalty are relate d to each other.
Moreover, satisfaction has a positive and direct impact on loyalty in banking.
Keywords: Loyalty, Satisfaction, Retail bank

Objectives of the study:


In today’s competitive environment, researchers and service marketers put great effort
in developing customers’ service loyalty in order to maintain competitive edge. Loyalty in
retail banking sector is also of great importance to the academicians and the researchers.
Various factors are involved in the formation process of loyalty. The key objective of this
study is, to identify satisfaction as the major factor behind customer loyalty in retail
banking. The major objective of this study was to find out the impact of satisfaction in
developing loyalty and also to investigate the main antecedents of satisfaction in service
sector like retail banking. To comply with this, in particular, this study sought the answers
of the following questions.

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1295427


Research question 1:
Is there any relationship between customer satisfaction (via service quality) and
loyalty in service sector like retail banking?
This question will analyse the impact of customer satisfaction on the level of
customer loyalty. It will try to build a bridge between satisfaction and loyalty in the banking
sector. Keeping all the other factors constant, an analysis will be carried out to evaluate the
role of satisfaction to build loyalty. If there is a relationship the researcher will try to find
the level of relationship while if not, the reason behind it will be explained.

Research question 2:
What is the role of dimensions of service quality in the formation process leading to overall
customer satisfaction?
There are various factors influencing customer satisfaction. This study will focus on
the factors of service quality and its role in forming customer satisfaction. Rather than
analysing whether service quality dimensions affect customer satisfaction or not, the
researcher will confirm that service quality dimensions does affect customer satisfaction and
will evaluate the role of those dimensions to build customer satisfaction.

Methodology of the study:


The Survey Method has been chosen to carry out the research. The researcher
divided the whole work mainly into two parts like, Secondary Research and Primary
Research. In the secondary research the researcher has made use of the available literature
and other relevant publications to find out the theoretical framework and also to know what
early research mentioned regarding selected topic. For primary research survey method has
been considered. To carry on the survey a questionnaire administered personal-contact
approach has been used. The design of the questionnaire was primarily based on multiple
item measurement scales (like Likert Scale) taken from previous research. The
questionnaire was pre-tested on a small sample of 5 respondents and based on this minor
changes were made to improve the clarity of the questionnaire. The sampling procedure
used for the study was simple random sampling. A convenience sample of 250 retail bank
customers of Chittagong had been chosen for the research. No restrictions were made on the
age, background, sex or location. In order to analyse the data descriptive statistics were
employed. The frequency distribution had been used as a descriptive statis tical tool.

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1295427


Rationale for the study:
Financial institutions, particularly the retail-banking sector, are facing extensive
competition. For this reason like other services sector the concept of loyalty is also
important to banking sector. Researchers (e.g. Caruana 2002, Bloemer et al., 1998) argued
that loyalty could be achieved through satisfaction. Consequently customer satisfaction has
achieved increasing focus of research, especially in banking sector. Now a days banking
sector has been fac ing strong competition and this is one of the most important reason of
having increasing focus on banking sector. In Bangladesh various public, private and
foreign banks are competing in this industry. All of them providing some what similar
services and that is one of the crucial factor for the banking industry. So, less tangible
attributes like loyalty, satisfaction and service quality achieved great importance in this
sector. By applying those attributes one bank can achieve competitive advantage over it s
competitors. As a result of the intense competition many financial institutions are now
focusing on developing customer satisfaction and customer retention through improving
quality of their services. To comply with the theoretical aspects and also find out the
satisfaction-loyalty constructs and their antecedents in the retail-banking sector the
researchers decided to carry on this research.

Limitations of the study:


1. Only one city (Chittagong) of the country had been considered. Findings might vary
according to the location, income level, standard of living etc. and all of those factors
had not been considered separately.
2. Only the descriptive statistics had been used to analyse the data, no steps had been taken
to use inferential statistics. There might be some sorts of variance in the overall result if
it is tested by inferential statistical techniques.

Introduction:
In the services marketing literature, it is generally agreed that service quality,
customer satisfaction and loyalty are important constructs. These are especially critical in
people-intensive sectors like retail banking industry. In today’s competitive business world
many firms are focusing their efforts on achieving and maintaining a loyal customer base.
According to Caruana (2002) loyal customers are the foundation of any business. Customers
often rely on intangible aspects to decide whether to become loyal client. In this aspect it
can be noted that, various factors are important to customers to make such a decision and
thus a better understanding of customer loyalty especially to service sector is really needed.
To do so first of all it is important to identify the antecedents of loyalty. Bloemer et al.
(1998) argued that a more feasible approach for banks is to focus on less tangible
determinants of customer loyalty like satisfaction. So, it can be argued that to establish loyal
customer base, banks need to put effort to increase customer satisfaction. Customer
satisfaction plays a vital role in establishing loyalty and at the same time it is also noted that
there are various factors that lead to satisfaction towards the bank. On the other hand,
identifying and understanding the antecedents of customer satisfaction is a critical issue for
academicians as well as bankers. Considerable researchers (e.g. Parasuraman, et al., 1988
and Zeithaml, et al., 1990) have pointed out service quality as the key factors of satisfaction.
The concept of satisfaction, service quality and loyalty are related to each other. In this
paper the researchers tried to establish satisfaction as an important factor behind loyalty and
also to find out their relationship. At the same time, the researchers also wanted to develop a
conceptual framework that incorporates loyalty, satisfaction and service quality. After
dealing with the conceptual issues researchers have collected data through a questionnaire
and also discussed the results of the empirical study that has been done to seek the answers
of the research questions.

Literature review:
In order to ensure that the subject matter is valid, a literature review has been
undertaken. Before going to the explanation related to the aforesaid aspects a brief
explanation regarding service has been given.
Service:
Services have some exceptional characteristics that ma ke them different from
physical products. To produce a service may or may not require the use of tangible goods.
There are some fundamental characteristics of services like intangibility, inseparability,
heterogeneity, and perishability (Zeithaml and Bitner, 1996). The most notable thing is that
it is often difficult for customers to evaluate services at pre-consumption, consumption and
post-consumption stage. On the other hand, due to intangible nature of services,
organisation may also face difficulty to understand how its customers perceive and evaluate
the quality of its services.
Service loyalty:
The notion of the loyalty construct has developed over the years (Caruana, 2002).
Research into customer loyalty has focused primarily on product-related or brand loyalty,
whereas loyalty to service organisations has remained underexposed (Bloemer, et al., 1998,
p 276). The concept of brand (customer) loyalty also extends to service organizations that
typically provide somewhat more intangible products. Service loyalty can be defined in the
following way: “Service loyalty refers the degree to which a customer exhibits repeat
purchasing behaviour from a service provider, possesses a positive attitudinal disposition
toward the provider, and considers using only this provider when a need for this service
arises” (Gremler and Brown, 1996, cited in Caruana, 2002, p 813).

Loyalty and its antecedents in retail banking:


Service loyalty is perhaps one of the most important constructs in services
marketing. Indeed, loyal customers that indulge in repeat purchases are the foundation of
any business. In an era of competitive pressure many firms are focusing their efforts on
maintaining a loyal customer base (Caruana, 2002). Due to strong competition, the financial
services sector has faced radical changes during the past ten years. Several strategies have
been attempted to retain customers. To increase customer loyalty, many banks have
introduced innovative products and services but the notable thing is that others easily follow
those innovations and customers perceive very little difference in the services offered by
retail banks (Bloemer et al., 1998; Levesque and McDougall, 1996). It has also been argued
that a more feasible approach for banks is to focus on less tangible and less easy-to-imitate
factors of customer loyalty such as service quality and satisfaction (Bloemer et al., 1998).
There have been a large number of studies that focused on satisfaction issues but limited
research had been done to find out the relationship between satisfaction, service quality and
loyalty in retail banking sector. Generally speaking, service loyalty begins only after a
certain level of customer satisfaction has been achieved. Some researchers (e.g. Bloemer et
al., 1998; Levesque and McDougall, 1996) considered satisfaction as an antecedent of
service loyalty. Caruana (2002) argued that overall satisfaction with an experience does lead
to customer loyalty. Much of the marketing literature gives the impression satisfied
customers automatically are loyal customers. The thinking is a satisfied customer, as a result
of his/her satisfaction, will naturally become a loyal customer - and satisfaction is the only
catalyst necessary for developing such loyalty. Apart from this, it is apparent that high
customer satisfaction should indicate increased loyalty for current customers. This means
more customers will repurchase (be retained) in the future. Keeping in mind the argument
provided by the earlier researchers, in this paper, customer satisfaction has been considered
as the key antecedent for loyalty. McDougall and Levesque (2000) introduce core service
quality and relational quality as well as perceived value as the drivers of customer
satisfaction and their proposed model was as follows:

Core
quality Switching
intentions
Relational
quality Customer
satisfaction

Perceived Loyalty
value intentions

Figure 1: Proposed drivers of customer satisfaction and future intentions.


Source: [McDougall and Levesque, (2000)]
The research team found a high degree of correlation among the various determinants of
service quality mentioned under SERVQUAL model. Zeithaml et al. (1990) then used the
five dimensions, these five dimensions are:

Table 1 Five dimensions of service quality


Dimensions Particulars
Tangibles Appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel and written
materials.
Reliability Ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately.
Responsiveness Willingness to help customers and provide prompt service.
Assurance Employees’ knowledge and courtesy and their ability to inspire trust and
confidence.
Empathy Caring, easy access, good communication, customer understanding and
individualised attention given to customers.
Source: Adapted from Zeithaml et al. (1990)

Findings of the study:


This chapter aims to provide an overview of findings as well as to discuss the results
that have been achieved during this study. It also examines the relationship among various
factors like satisfaction and loyalty, service quality and satisfaction. Descriptive statistics
have been used to carry out the data analysis. The researchers divided this chapter into two
parts. The fist part is regarding the general findings based on the questionnaire and the later
part is the investigation part where the researchers used cross-tabulation techniques to find
out the relationship between the key factors and also their impact on each other.

Respondents’ profile
In the questionnaire there was a section concerning respondents’ profile to get a
general idea about the respondents’ age, education and working status as various factors
might also influence their perception. For instance, no restrictions were made regarding age,
sex, marital status, education and working status as the researcher wanted to get a generalise
idea regarding loyalty and satisfaction. A profile of respondents is presented in the
following table.
Table 2: Personal background of the respondents
(n=250) Frequency Percentage
Gender Male 205 82
Female 45 18
18-24 35 14
Age 25-30 96 38
Over 30 119 48
Marital status Single 115 46
Married 135 54
Working status Business 106 42
Job holder 144 58
SSC 23 09
Education HSC 42 17
Graduate 117 47
Post graduate 68 27
The above table indicates that 82% of the respondents were male and 18% were
female. Out of the total respondents 38% of the res pondents were between 25 and 30 years
range, 14% of the respondents were between 18-24 years range and 48% respondents were
over 30. 46% respondents were single while married accounted for 54%. A large number of
the respondents (58%) were jobholders followed by 42% businessman. The table also
revealed that a significant number of respondents (74%) were highly educated (including
graduate 47% and post graduate 27%).
Duration of banking:
In order to investigate customer satisfaction and loyalty with the bank, it is also
important to explore how long the respondents held their accounts with the bank. Details
regarding this aspect are reported in Table 3
Table 3: Period of time the respondents held account with the bank.
Frequency Percentage
Less than 1 year 55 22
1-3 years 125 50
More than 3 years 70 28
It is evident from the above table that 22 % of the respondents held accounts with
their present bank for less than 1 year. For instance, a significant number of respondents
(50%) articulated that they were dealing with the bank for one to three years and a
considerable number of respondents (28%) were with the bank for more than three years.
This might imply a reasonable degree of customer loyalty and satisfaction towards the bank
but it’s a narrow focus on the loyalty and satisfaction aspect because it just considered only
one factor e.g. duration. To get a clear picture and wide idea regarding satisfaction and
loyalty and also to identify the factors that influence them to bank with their bank for 1 to 3
years or more than 3 years, various service quality aspects were included in the
questionnaire.

Identifying important service quality aspects


In order to find out the important service quality aspects, in respondents’ point of
view, that in turns le ad to satisfaction and loyalty 8 items were included in the
questionnaire. Details about the findings are presented in Table 4.
Table 4: Important service quality features
1 2 3 4 5
Service quality aspects F % F % F % F % F %
Visually appealing physical facilities. 85 34 100 40 50 20 15 6 - -
Employee’s neat and professional 90 36 110 44 35 14 15 6
appearance.
Performing the right service at right 200 80 35 14 15 6 - - - -
time.
Convenient operating hours and days. 165 66 65 26 - - 20 8 - -
Employee’s willingness to help. 190 76 40 16 20 8 - - - -
Prompt service to customers. 200 80 35 14 - - 15 6 - -
Safety and security in transaction. 215 86 20 8 15 6 - - - -
Caring and individual attention to 193 77 37 15 20 8 - - - -
customers.
Scale:1=Important, 2=relatively important, 3=Neutral, 4=relatively unimportant,5=
unimportant.
In the questionnaire various items related to service quality dimensions had been
used. Table 4 shows that different service quality aspects have been considered important
by different respondents. While some one consider caring and individual attention of branch
staff is important, other considers safety and security as an important quality aspects. 86%
respondents consider safety and security as an important service quality aspect. Performing
the right service at right time follows this. It can also be noted that the service quality
aspects, the respondents consider important to them, play an important role in evaluating
service quality provided by bank. From the findings it is also revealed that respondents who
agreed that their bank provided quality service, which they consider important, also express
high level of satisfaction and details regarding this have been given in the later part through
cross tabulation technique.

Evaluation of Bank service quality:


Respondents’ evaluation regarding the bank service quality has been presented
through graph.
Figure 1: Respondents’ evaluation about the bank service quality.
Frequency

12% 0%
22%
Very High
High

28% Moderate
Low
Very low
38%

Respondents were asked to evaluate the bank service quality, considering the service
quality aspects, which they think most important to them. In this regard, a significant
proportion of respondents (60 %, where 38 % mentioned high and 22 % mentioned very
high) mentioned the bank service quality is high. Results also indicate that 28% respondents
expressed moderate opinion whereas 12% mentioned the bank service quality is low.

Overall satisfaction:
In order to find out the level of satisfaction towards the bank the respondents were
asked to express their overall satisfaction on the basis of service quality dimensions
mentioned earlier. The findings are reported in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Level of satisfaction towards the bank

Level of satisfaction

Highly satisfied
6% 12%
6%
Satisfied
28% Neutral
48% Dissatisfied
Highly dissatisfied

It can be noted from the graph, that a significant proportion of the respondents (60%,
out of which 12% articulated high satisfaction and 48% articulated satisfaction) expressed
their satisfaction towards the bank considering the service quality aspects of the bank. On
the other hand, a considerable number of respondents (28 %) articulated neutral attitude
towards the bank service, which means they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. The
graph also reveals that 12% expressed their dissatisfaction towards the bank service.
Moreover, the respondents who have agreed with the service quality aspects they also
express their overall satisfaction towards the bank. So, it can be argued that service quality
plays an important role in the formation process of satisfaction.

Loyalty Construct:
In order to find out loyalty towards the bank two questions were included in the
questionnaire. One question was related to the changes in policy and service charge. In this
regard the respondents were asked to express their agreement or disagreement, if the bank
changes its service charge or policy whether they will bank with their present bank or not.
The findings are reported in Table 5.
Table 5: Frequency of respondents’ opinion to continue with the bank.
1 2 3 4 5
F % F % F % F % F
%
You will continue with this
bank even if the service charge or policies 45 18 105 42 20 8 40 16 40 16
change somewhat
Scale: 1= strongly agree, 2= some what agree, 3= neither agree nor disagree, 4= somewhat
disagree, 5= strongly disagree.

From the Ta ble 5 it is clear that, a significant proportion of respondents (60 %, out
of which 18 % articulated strong agreement and 42 % articulated somewhat agreement)
mentioned that, they will continue even if the service charge or policies some what changes.
On the other hand, 32 % expressed their disagreement towards the statement and only 8 %
articulated neutral opinion. In this regard it can also be noted that satisfied customers tend to
be loyal with the bank regardless of changes in service charge or policies. Another question,
loyalty perspective, was regarding recommendation. The respondents were asked, whether
they will recommend the bank to others. Findings related to this presented in Table 6.
Table 6: Recommending the bank to others.
1 2 3 4 5
F % F % F % F % F %
You will recommend the bank you have 50 20 50 40 45 18 35 14 20 8
chosen to the person you know.
Scale: 1= Extremely likely, 2= likely, 3= moderately, 4= unlikely, 5= not at all likely.

From the Table 6, it is clear that a considerable amount of respondents were


interested to recommend the bank to others. The above table also shows that 20%
respondents expressed that they were extremely likely to recommend the bank whereas 40%
mentioned that they were likely to recommend it to others. On the other hand, 22%
expressed negative attitude towards the statement. Basically, the negative attitude comes
from the dissatisfaction regarding service quality aspects. From the above Table, it can also
be argued that a significant number of respondents expressed their loyalty towards the bank.
This is due to the level of satisfaction. Those who are satisfied to the bank they usually
willing to recommend the bank to others and also intended to continue with the bank even if
the service charge somewhat changed. The relationship between satisfaction and loyalty
will be presented in the later part of this chapter.
Investigating the relationship
In order to find out the relationship among the factors and also to find out the impact
on each other a cross- tabulation procedure has been used.

Service quality and satisfaction:


At first researchers tried to find out the relationship between service quality and
satisfaction and also the impact of service quality in the formation process of satisfaction
towards the retail bank. The findings are presented below:
Figure 3: Cross-tabulation results between service quality and customer satisfaction,

satisfaction level
20 Highly sa
15 satisfied
10 Neutral
5 Dissati
0 Highly dis

w
h

ate

low
h

Hig

Lo
hig

er

ry
od
ry

Ve
Ve

M
Service quality

The results of cross tabulation provide valuable information on complete agreement,


i.e. the respondents whose perception of service quality is high or very high they also
expressed their satisfaction (either highly satisfied or satisfied) towards the bank. On the
other hand, those who experienced low service quality also expressed dissatisfaction
towards the bank. From the Graph it is revealed that 6% respondents pointed out that the
service quality is very high and at the same time they also mentioned they are highly
satisfied with the bank. Again, 42% mentioned that the service quality is high and at the
same time they also expressed their satisfaction (out of which 8% mentioned they are highly
satisfied and 34 % mentioned they are satisfied). Data also revealed that those who
experienced low quality service (12%) they also expressed either neutral (6%) opinion or
high dissatisfaction (6%) towards the bank. Apart from this, the respondents whose
perception on service quality is medium (20%) also indicated neutral satisfaction levels.
From the above results it can be concluded that the judgement towards the level of service
quality (based on the service quality dimensions) have great impact on satisfaction.

Satisfaction and loyalty:


In order to find out whether there is any relationship exits between satisfaction and
loyalty the following cross-tables were introduced. The cross-table is based on level of
satisfaction and respondents intention to recommend the bank to others. The findings are
reported below:
From the following table shows that respondents who are satisfied with the bank
they were also interested to recommend the bank to others. Table also shows that 66%
satisfied customers (either highly satisfied or satisfied) articulated their agreement to
recommend the bank to others. On the other hand, 14 % dissatisfied respondents also
mentioned that they are not interested to recommend the bank others. The rest of the
respondents expressed neutral opinion. From the above findings it can be concluded that
there is a strong (positive) relationship between satisfaction and loyalty and it is also
apparent that satisfied customers want to continue with the bank as well as recommend it to
others.
Table 7: Cross-tabulation of customer satisfaction and their willingness
Customers will Recommend the bank to others
1 2 3 4 5 Total
Level of satisfaction F % F % F % F % F % F %
Highly satisfied 50 20 - - - - - - - - 50 20
Satisfied 15 6 100 40 - - - - - - 115 46
Neutral - - 50 20 50 20
Dissatisfied - - - - - - 15 6 15 6
Highly dissatisfied - - 20 8 20 8
Total 250 100
Scale: 1= Extremely likely, 2= Likely, 3= Moderately, 4= Unlikely, 5= Nt at all likely.

Recommendations:
Satisfaction is the important factors behind loyalty. In order to create loyal customer
base as well as satisfied customer banks should emphasize especially on service quality
aspect. On the basis of literature and findings of the study it can be argued that service
quality dimensions has great impact on satisfaction that in turns lead to loyalty. So, a clear
understanding between satisfaction and loyalty (via service quality) can help the bank to
perform well. It is really hard to recommend considering a small sample but as the results
support the earlier research some recommendations can be made on the basis of the findings
and if the bank follows some of them on a trial basis they might get benefit from it.
In this regard bank can initiate the following steps:
1. Retail bank is service oriented and people -intensive sector. Customer always deserves
better quality service as well as good manner , empathy, and so on. To comply with this
bank should monitor their activities as well as their employees in order to make a
positive impression on customers in context of service quality aspects.
2. The study reveals that various problems occurred in the service delivery process and
these are considered as the elements of dissatisfaction. In this context, retail bank should
try to find out the reasons of complain and also try to minimise it by providing proper
training to the staff. Again bank can take some initiatives to find out what customers
really expect from them. If they have proper knowledge regarding customers’
expectations, they can easily solve the problem and in this way the banks can manage a
considerable amount of satisfied customers.
3. Time to time bank can also conduct some survey to find out customers’ perception
about the service quality as well as their expectation from the bank.

Conclusions:
The aim of this study is to identify satisfaction as the major factor behind customer
loyalty in retail banking sector. To comply with this two research questions have been
considered. From the above literature review and findings it is concluded that satisfaction
seems to be the most important factor influencing customer loyalty with banks. The results
also show that there is a positive relationship between satisfaction and loyalty that means
increase or decrease in level of satisfaction influence loyalty towards the bank. Those who
are satisfied with the bank they also intend to continue with the bank. Moreover, the results
also show that overall satisfaction with the bank has a significant relationship with
recommending the bank to other people. Furthermore, this study also reveals that the level
of satisfaction depends largely on service quality. Service quality is crucial for customer
satisfaction. According to the findings service quality has been found as an important factor
towards satisfaction. Moreover, the study also reveals that individual indicator of quality
dimensions has great impact on satisfaction. It can be noted from the findings that safety
and security in transaction has been found (86% considered it as an important service
quality aspect) important from respondents’ viewpoint and it has also a positive effect on
satisfaction. Along with this, responsiveness also has great impact on satisfaction. The study
also reveals that high service quality implies high satisfaction and vice versa.
The main conclusions can be summed up as:
1. Satisfaction is the most important determinant of customer loyalty in retail banking
sector and there exists a positive relationship between them.
2. Service quality dimensions are the important antecedents of satisfaction.
3. Amongst the various service quality dimensions safety and security along with
responsiveness and empathy got the highest attention. Research also shows that
these dimensions play a vital role in the formation process leading to satisfaction.
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