Academic journal article Journal of Business Economics and Management

Service Quality, Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty: The Moderating Role of gender/Aptarnavimo Kokybe, Vartotoju Pasitenkinimas Ir Lojalumas Vartotoju Lyties Atzvilgiu

Academic journal article Journal of Business Economics and Management

Service Quality, Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty: The Moderating Role of gender/Aptarnavimo Kokybe, Vartotoju Pasitenkinimas Ir Lojalumas Vartotoju Lyties Atzvilgiu

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In today's global market environment where there are intense competitive pressures, service quality continues to compel the attention of banking institutions (Angur et al. 1999; Yavas et al. 2004). Astute bank managers realize that delivery of high service quality is a strategic weapon for differentiating themselves and gaining a competitive advantage. This is not surprising, because today's sophisticated and discerning customers demand superior service quality. It is acknowledged among these managers that high service quality results in a number of desirable outcomes, such as reduction in customers' complaints, greater willingness to recommend to someone else, improved customer satisfaction and retention rates, and enhanced financial performance (Angur et al. 1999; Rostamy 2009; Yavas, Benkenstein 2007; Yavas et al. 2007). Astute bank managers also strive to have a pool of satisfied and loyal customers, because such customers buy and spend more (cf. Babakus, Yavas 2008).

In addition, personal characteristics, such as gender may moderate the service quality-customer satisfaction relationship. An understanding of the presence (or absence) of differences between male and female customers regarding how various service quality dimensions affect satisfaction is crucial to bank managers in determining if a gender-differentiated approach is warranted in managing customers.

1.1. Purpose and rationale

Against this background, this study develops and tests a model, which investigates the relationships among service quality, customer satisfaction and loyalty. Specifically, the current study uses the parsimonious 20-item four-dimensional scale consisting of service environment, interaction quality, empathy, and reliability developed by Karatepe et al. (2005) based on data obtained from the customers of retail banks in Northern Cyprus. By using this scale, the present study tests customer satisfaction as a mediator of the effects of service environment, interaction quality, empathy, and reliability on loyalty. This study also tests gender as a moderator in the relationship between the above-mentioned service quality dimensions and customer satisfaction.

The present study contributes to the services marketing literature in the following ways. First, a close examination of the services marketing literature indicates that the bulk of existing research regarding the relationships among service quality, customer satisfaction and loyalty is based on samples derived from the developed Western countries, such as the USA, the UK, and Canada (Tsoukatos, Rand 2006). In addition, despite problems associated with the dimensionality of the SERVQUAL (service quality) scale and its stability from context to context, many studies have used, adapted, or replicated this scale to measure service quality. However, there is a need for using industry- and culture/country-specific measures of service quality (Imrie et al. 2002; Winsted 1997). Karatepe et al. (2005) responded to such calls and developed and validated a parsimonious 20-item four-dimensional scale for the retail banking industry in Northern Cyprus. It should be noted that several prior studies dealing with the measurement of service quality in various service settings of Northern Cyprus (e.g. banks, travel agencies, airlines, hotels) failed to provide support for the five-dimensional structure of the SERVQUAL scale (Arasli et al. 2005; Johns et al. 2004; Karatepe, Avci 2002; Kozak et al. 2003; Nadiri et al. 2009; Nadiri, Hussain 2005; Safakli 2007). An empirical study also indicates that the existing service quality scales applied in developed countries should not be directly transposed to emerging markets (Greenland et al. 2006). Therefore, this study uses the aforementioned scale developed by Karatepe et al. (2005) to test the effect of service quality on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Second, there is a dearth of empirical research regarding the role of gender as a moderator in the relationship between service qualities dimensions and customer satisfaction (cf. …

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