Customer Satisfaction in the Financial Industry: San Francisco versus Melbourne, Australia

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

One of the most important measures of success in marketing financial institutions is customer satisfaction. Although there has been extensive research into the bank marketing environment within a country (see Lisanin, 1998, Gardener, 1994, and Meyers and Mullins, 2000), there is little research measuring customer perception of banks internationally. That is, there are very few studies measuring the customer perception of one country's banking environment compared with another country's banking environment. One exception (Witkowski and Kellner, 1996) is somewhat disappointing because the differences discussed lack significance statistics. This paper measures consumer perceptions of banks in Melbourne, Australia and San Francisco California, and compares consumer perceptions in the two countries.

On every dimension, consumers in San Francisco are more satisfied with their banking environment than consumers in Melbourne. Further, we find that the most significant areas of difference are due to external factors. These factors may be related to bank regulation in the two countries and how banks are allowed to compete. We begin by discussing the methodology.

METHODOLOGY

One of the authors surveyed consumers in Melbourne, Australia and San Francisco, California to determine their perceived level of customer satisfaction with their banking institutions. The respondents were asked to indicate their level of satisfaction with their bank on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 is poor and 5 is excellent). The survey (see Exhibit 1) was organized to determine the split between the external features and the internal features of the banks. External features include location, convenient hours, parking, borrowing rates, certificate of deposit rates, variety of services, and service fees. Internal factors include employee courtesy, employee knowledge, and general ease of doing business. We designed this Internal/External orientation to examine differences caused by management, employee training, and general business savvy compared with factors more outside of normal management control (e.g., history, location, regulation, and economic factors).

The survey concludes by having respondents evaluate their overall impression of their bank. To measure these perceptions, a convenience sample was used. Surveys were administered in different parts of Melbourne and San Francisco to assure a more representative sample.

Because the samples were independent, and because the number of participants allowed population tests rather than sample tests, the authors performed a basic difference of population means tests on the data to examine whether there were significant differences between the population means for the two samples.

SURVEY RESULTS

The research focuses on whether the means differed significantly between the respondents who have bank accounts in San Francisco versus those who have bank accounts in Melbourne. Exhibit 2 lists results for each category. The most striking result is that on every dimension measured, the average level of customer satisfaction was greater for customers in San Francisco than in Melbourne. As would be expected, the mean overall bank perception was significantly higher (at the a<1% level) for San Francisco bank customers than Melbourne bank customers. This suggests that consumers in San Francisco have a higher overall level of customer satisfaction than consumers in Melbourne.

The differences were not significant for the variables of courteous employees, knowledgeable employees, ease of doing business, and borrowing rates. Note that with the exception of borrowing rates, all of these factors are internal. This suggests that San Francisco consumers do not significantly more favorably view overall bank management than do their Melbourne counterparts.

The means were significantly different at a < 5% for CD rates and for variety of services offered. …