Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

Expectations of the Customer Contact Staff towards the Employer and the Possibilities of Meeting Them in Banking Institutions *

Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

Expectations of the Customer Contact Staff towards the Employer and the Possibilities of Meeting Them in Banking Institutions *

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In the opinion of a large group of specialists the banking sector continues to be the arena of intense competition (Hull 2002; Kaynak/Küçükemiroglu 1992). Banks must compete not only with each other, but also with the shadow banking institutions which offer alternative channels of access to debt and deposit instruments. Another problem making the functioning of the banking sector more difficult is that most of its products and services are usually easy to copy and imitate. Moreover, banks have to manage extensive networks of branches, ATMs and electronic services, and are expected to offer professional customer services of high quality.

As the public trust institutions, banks must meet higher expectations of particularly external customers. Individuals and corporations using banking services assume that the relations between them and the bank will be based on the laws in force and mutual trust.

Consistently high quality of customer service is very important for organisations seeking competitive advantage. The image of a banking institution is created by its employees interacting with the users of banking services (both individual and corporate). Bank personnel in charge of handling these two groups of customers is frequently called 'a front-office' - this term encompasses consultants, tellers, assistants, etc., that is employees who are usually the first to contact customers1. The role they play in ensuring smooth functioning of the banking sector cannot be overrated. Complying with the letter of the law and ethical standards, they provide bank customers with a sense of security even in a time of crisis, and the latter trust that the customer contact employees will always take care of their finances. In practice, in taking business decisions all customer contact employees are guided by the good of the customer, but also by the good of the bank and their own.

The customer contact employees should know and accept the mission, strategy and goals of their organisation, engage in solving its problems, show concern for its good image in the market, have the necessary skills or work on their development, understand their responsibilities, show self-control, a sense of responsibility, tenacity, empathy, and loyalty to the bank, be tactful, creative in thinking, communicative, ready for sacrifice, cooperative and willing to share their knowledge with others (Mazurek-Lopacinska 2002). Finding such individuals and encouraging them into a long-term relationship with the bank is a major challenge for its management.

Contemporary studies into the quality of relations between employers and employees date back to the works published by March and Simon (1958). According to these authors, every new employee in the organisation seeks to answer the following question: Should I fully engage in the life of the firm? A 'yes' answer means that the individual is ready to do for the firm more than his or her regular duties require, to stay and form a long-term relationship with the employer. The ratio between employees' inputs and the gains of the organisation shows how successful the employer has been in the relations with employees (Barnard/Simon, as quoted in Bowen/Siehl 1997).

The review of the literature has showed that researchers are very interested in the concept of psychological contract arising between an employee and the employer. The notion of a psychological contract built on Homans' social exchange theory (1958) seems to fully reflect the dynamics and interaction of relations between the two parties. The knowledge of how a psychological contract is initiated, fulfilled and modified is instrumental in setting the multicontextuality of human behaviour in the organization in a comprehensible framework.

A psychological contract, particularly the unwritten reciprocal expectations of customer contact employees and of their employer that mainly focus on the attractiveness of what the other party offers, expects and delivers, gives rise to the following questions: What professional needs do the bank personnel have? …

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