Attributes, Benefits, Customer Satisfaction and Behavioral Loyalty-An Integrative Research of Financial Services Industry in Taiwan

Article excerpt

Measuring the key attributes of your service is necessary, but it is not sufficient for improving customer satisfaction. This study developed and empirically tested a model examining the relations among attributes, benefits, customer satisfaction, trust/commitment and customer behavioral loyalty in a marketing system. Based on sample collected from Asia Trust, one of the most famous banks providing merchant banking services in Taiwan, the results of the department of loan show that symbolic benefits do have positively significant influence on customer satisfaction. And the results of the department of deposit also show that both functional and symbolic benefits do have positively significant effects on customer satisfaction. In the department of credit card, both experiential and symbolic benefits do have positively significant effects on customer satisfaction. As a part of relationship quality and behavioral loyalty, all the path coefficients are not only significant but also of high value. The findings suggest that customers buy dissimilar financial products with different benefits, with different attributes, hence the difference in the level of customer satisfaction and behavioral consequence.

INTRODUCTION

Providing quality service is considered an essential strategy for success and survival in today's competitive environment (Dawkins and Reichheld, 1990; Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry, 1985; Reichheld and Sasser, 1990; Zeithaml, Parasuraman, and Berry, 1990). Therefore, the primary emphasis of both academic and managerial efforts is focused on determining what service quality means to customers; and developing strategies to meet customer expectations (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry 1985, 1988). Besides, several retail markets have reached maturity, are over-stocked, and have difficulties differentiating themselves based on merchandise selection only (Berry and Gresham, 1986; Ghosh, 1994). Retailers more than ever are continually seeking out products, process, and technologies that increase customer value (Morgan and Hunt, 1994; Parasuraman et al., 1988; Woodruff 1997).

In general, marketing literature focuses on product and service efforts as drivers of total customer value. (Bolton and Drew, 1991; Frenzen and Davis, 1990; Gwinner et al., 1998; Hennig-Thurau and Klee, 1997). Attention has also been paid to the concept of "Relationship Marketing," (Barnes, 1997; Gwinner et al., 1998; Reynlods and Arnold, 2000) in addition to service quality in the current marketplace (Betty et al., 1996; Berry, 1995; Reynlods and Arnold 2000). Nevertheless, even though service quality and relationship marketing are popular topics, their intrinsic qualities are merely (what attributes bring forth) benefits needed by customers, further leading to customer satisfaction.

In service industry, research has shown that service quality enhancement and relationship marketing (Berry and Thompson, 1982; Day 1985; Moriarty et al., 1983) are appropriate strategies for commercial banks. And like in many other service businesses, the intangibility of the services in the banking sector highlights the importance of customer relationship management. Furthermore, the economic benefits associated with customer satisfaction are well grounded. Thus it has been shown (Sheth and Parvatiyar, 1995) that customers who have been with their bank for five years are much more profitable than those in the first year of their relationship. Further findings (Reichheld and Kenny, 1990) indicate that an average retail bank retains between 80 and 85 percent of its depositors, and that even a small improvement in this rate leads to higher margins. Therefore, longer customer relationships are worth more to the bank than new ones: more established customers have higher account balances, relatively lower account costs and are more likely to use other bank products and services.

This paper begins by discussing an apparent dichotomy among service quality attributes: the product-related and non-product-related split. …