Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE credits
Today, the Swedish banking industry is facing aggressive competition as a consequence of many changes; increase of competitors in the marketplace, changes in the market structure, technological advancements and the use of Internet banking, and the increase of customer demands. Therefore, the pressure that each bank faces is high and banks need to upgrade their strategies and adjust their business approach to the quick changes. An understanding of customers’ expectations and perceptions of service quality is a prerequisite to make customers satisfied as well as prolong and strengthen the bank-customer-relationship.
Purpose and Research Questions
Investigate the service quality of Swedish banks and its influence on the nature of the relationship between the banks and their private customers in Umeå.
- What are the overall as well as the specific gaps between expected and perceived service quality of banks’ private customers?
- Is there a tendency towards loosening the relationship with the main bank?
Theories and Models
The theories and models we discuss in our study are related to the purpose and research questions. Therefore, we first discuss the general concept of marketing and services marketing and afterwards review related theories and models. The central concept of our research is the SERVQUAL and Gap Model being the most famous model used to measure service quality, also in retail banking. This model is used to investigate the existing gaps between the expected and perceived service quality which refers to our first research question. For answering the second research question, we propose a Bank-Customer-Relationship Model based on our assumptions and adjusted according to the findings.
Our philosophy is positivistic as we collect and analyze quantitative data to draw conclusions, as well as realistic, as the survey is conducted in a social reality. This philosophical perspective shapes the way the whole research is designed. Reviewing and finding theories first, that are relevant to our purpose and then, analyzing the data collected in order to prove the theories, classifies our research approach as deductive. Our chosen strategy is, conducting a survey at only one point of time which defines our study as cross-sectional. Our data was collected by using non-random sampling. We distributed self administered questionnaires to 200 respondents in Umeå city, being customers of any bank.
Findings and Conclusions
Referring to our first research question we conclude that an overall gap between expected and perceived service quality of banks’ private customers exists. But, there is a considerable difference between gaps of different bank services. Customers consider some of the services more important than others, therefore they expect more. Other services seem to be less important for them, so they expect less. Finally, there is also a neutral consideration for some other services. Referring to our second research question, the findings indicate that the bank-customer-relationships might develop a tendency to weaken even though bank customers are still highly satisfied with their main banks.
2009. , 71 p.