Monday, August 29, 2011

Service quality and customer satisfaction in the retail banking sector in Vietnam

Van Dinh (posted for friends and students only)


Introduction

Vietnam’s banking sector is expected to have one of the highest growth rates in Asia during the next few years due to the country’s continued economic expansion, rising household incomes, and relatively low penetration of existing banking services. Over the past two decades, the Vietnamese government has undertaken a series of reforms to strengthen and modernize the sector as part of the country’s move towards a more open and market oriented economy. In recent years, rapid economic growth has improved the household income and demand for retail banking services. Credit and debit card use has become more common, with the number of cards issued doubling between 2008 and 2010 to 28.5 million. The number of automated teller machines (ATMs) has also increased dramatically, rising from 1,800 in 2005 to 11,000 as of December 2010 (SBV, 2011). However, the retail banking sector is still in its infancy (BMI, 2011; SBV, 2011). As of December 2010, an estimated 23% of Vietnam’s population of approximately 90 million people had bank accounts and around half of those with accounts actively used consumer banking services (Ho & Baxter, 2011). One of the main concerns for the underdeveloped banking industry in Vietnam is the inadequate service quality in the retail sector (BMI, 2011; SBV, 2011). Service quality assessment is an important leadership task needed to achieve organizational success (Glaveli, Petridou, Liassides & Spathis, 2006). Cronin and Taylor (1992) described five dimensions (tangible, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy) that constitute customer expectations of service. The specific problem addressed in this study is the quality of retail banking services in Vietnam need improvement to increase customer satisfaction. The possible relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction in the retail-banking sector in Vietnam should be examined to find the solutions to the problem.

In addition, researching about service quality and customer satisfaction is important for both domestic and foreign banks in the Vietnamese competitive market (Oh, 2009; SBV, 2011). In the past, foreign banks in Vietnam have been limited due to a geographical restriction of the government, which allowed a single branch per city. Since 2007 upon Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), this number has increased with the presence of many foreign banks. Some foreign banks namely Australia and New Zealand Bank, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, United Oversea Bank, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation have strategies entering the market by becoming strategic partners with domestic banks. Currently, domestic banks have around 90% share of the retail market in Vietnam (SBV, 2011). However, foreign banks are fast becoming strong competitors in the banking retail market by providing services with high technologies, which domestic banks do not have. Foreign banks currently can provide the full range of banking services, which only domestic banks previously have. Consequently, the competitiveness in the banking sector is rising. Survival issues will force bank managers to find solutions to improve their service quality and customer satisfaction.


Literature Review


The literature conceptualizes service quality as the gap between delivered and expected service performance. Customers perceive the relative inferiority or superiority of services by comparing a firm's actual performance with their expectations. The gap between perception and expectation is perceived service quality (Beerli, Martin, & Quintana, 2005; Parasuraman et al., 1991). Customers are more concerned about their money value and have higher expectations from service providers nowadays. If customers perceive that service quality is unsatisfactory, they will not hesitate to switch over business elsewhere (Hossain & Leo, 2009; Uppal & Mishra, 2011). In addition, modern technology increases market transparency, which enables competitors to provide similar or improved versions of any new products (Granados, 2005). Banking industry like many other service industries is facing demanding customers, fierce competition, new technologies, and other changing economic variables (Jham & Khan, 2008). Therefore, it is imperative for banks to achieve customer satisfaction by service excellence. In fact, many research has been done on service quality and customer satisfaction in the banking industry in particular country (Gournaris et al., 2003; Cui et al, 2003; Duncan & Elliott , 2004; Beerli et al., 2004; Jabnoun & Khalifa, 2005; Ibrahim et al, 2006; Lopez et al., 2007; Gou et al., 2008; Kumar et al., 2009; Poolthong & Mandhachitara, 2009; Ravichandran et al., 2010). Other research compared the differences in the perceptions of customers about the quality of bank services in two or more countries (Lasser et al., 2000; Yavas & Benkenstein, 2007; Dash et al., 2009).
Initial research in defining and measuring service quality and customer satisfaction was established in the mid-eighties by Gronroos et a. (1984) and Parasuraman et al. (1985). Gronroos et al. and Parasuraman et al. were the earliest researchers to point out that quality prevalent in the goods sector is not extendable to the services sector. Because of intangible characteristics exist in service, quality in the service context is difficult to measure and evaluate (Parasuraman et al., 1991). Various measuring models have been developed for measuring perceptions of service quality (Gronroos, 1983; Parasuraman et al., 1991; Cronin and Taylor, 1992; Stafford, 1996; Bahia & Nantel, 2000; Aldligan & Buttle, 2002; Tsoukatos & Mastrojianni, 2010 as quoted in Munusama et al., 2010). However, the most widely used models in measuring quality in the service industry and customer satisfaction in general and in the banking sector in particular was the SERVQUAL of Parasuraman et al. and the SERVPERF of Cronin and Taylor. This study applied SERVPERF model to examine the relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction.

Research Objectives

There was seldom seen a work that has been performed on service quality and customer satisfaction in the retail banking sector in Vietnam. This study involved testing the correlation within five dimensions of service quality suggested by Cronin and Taylor (1992) in a specific industry (banking) and population (Vietnam). The relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction was examined to assess the consistence of the previous studies in the Vietnamese market context. The present study provided original contributions to fill two main knowledge gaps. First, the study contributed to current and future research by comparing and contrasting related literature. Findings of the study provided evidence supporting the results in previous literature such as Hanzaee and Salehi (2011), Munusamy and Mun (2010), Ozdemir and Hewett (2010), Ravichandran et al, (2010). Second, the study provided a practical application to measure service quality within retail banking services in Vietnam. The study planned to impact the success of the growing retail banking sector in a transition economy through analyzing customer reactions to the service quality by examining their levels of satisfaction with specific service quality dimensions. The study served as guidelines for the policymakers and bank leaders of banks in Vietnam in order to improve their service quality and customer satisfaction.

Research Design and Questions

The design of the research was to examine the inter-relationship within five service quality dimensions. In addition, the study design attempted to determine whether service quality dimensions have an association with the overall customer satisfaction. These objectives were entailed in two research questions need to be answered as follows:
RQ1. To what extent, if any, is there a significant relationship between the dimensions of service quality among retail banking customers in Vietnam?
RQ2. To what extent, if any, is there a significant relationship between the perceived service quality and customer satisfaction among retail banking customers in Vietnam?
In order to answer two research questions, a quantitative research method with a correlational design that made use of a survey was appropriate for the study. The SERVEPERF model developed by Cronin and Taylor (1992) served as the foundation of the survey instrument to examine the problem of service quality. This model measures service quality by using the perceptions of customers through five quality dimensions, which were demonstrated through 22 survey items. Five service quality dimensions or attributes, which are tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy are used to measure perceived service quality in banks.
A survey instrument using a 7-point Likert-type format in two languages (Vietnamese and English) with was designed to collect participant perceptions to conduct statistical comparison. Participants were recruited from current retail banking customers from banks in Vietnam. Participants were recruited to complete the survey during their visit to bank branches and automated teller machine (ATM) locations and through an online survey. The study included the use of both quota sampling and convenience sampling procedures to collect data from 394 participants to achieve a significant sample size to remain at a 3% sampling error rate and a power criterion of .80 for effect size of .20 at an alpha level of 5% (Creswell, 2008).

Sample Data Analysis and Findings

The data was analyzed in different sections: reliability and validity, descriptive analysis, factor analysis, correlation, and multiple regression. Reliability in a study focused on whether the research method and design were accurate (Cooper & Schindler, 2008). Validity is concerned with how well the survey questions measure what they are intended to measure. Descriptive statistics are regularly used and reviewed from hard copy and during analysis to examine the variables being used. Factor analysis is used with two purposes. First, the researcher wanted to reduce a large number of variables to a smaller number of factors for modeling and research objectives, where the large number of variables precludes modeling all the measures individually. Second, the researcher expected to validate a measure for perceived service quality, which was adjusted from SERVPERF model by Cronin and Taylor (1992) to fit with the banking market in Vietnam. Correlation analysis using Pearson’ test was employed to examine the association between service quality dimensions. Finally, multiple regression analysis was used in an attempt to demonstrate the impact of five service quality dimensions in explaining overall satisfaction of customers in retail banking sector in Vietnam.
Reliability and Validity. The researcher started the data analysis with examining the reliability and validity of the sample data. The Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for the study variables ranged between .896 and .906, while the overall scale was .903. These high Cronbach’s alpha coefficients indicated that each construct has a high internal consistency among the items measuring the constructs (See Table 1). The scale validity in measuring customer perception of service quality was observed and ensured in Hanzaee and Salehi (2011), Ravichandan et al. (2010), Siddiqui (2010). The pilot study, which was designed to test the survey instrument, also confirmed the face validity of the survey questions to measure customer perceptions of the retail banking services in Vietnam.

Table 1
Cronbach’s Alpha Measurements

Name of Items Scale Mean if Item Deleted Cronbach's Alpha if Item Deleted Cronbach's Alpha
1. Has up-to-date equipments 113.61 .898 .903
2 . Should do as promised 113.51 .897
3 . Should tell when services will be performed 113.97 .900
4 . Employees who are trustworthy 113.96 .897
5 . Individual attention to customers 113.94 .896
6 . Appealing physical facilities 113.77 .899
7 . Interest in solving customer problems 113.44 .898
8 . Prompt service to customers 113.82 .899
9 . Customers feel safe in transactions 113.94 .898
10 . Convenient operating hours 113.85 .902
11 . Neat appearing employees 113.63 .906
12 . Perform service right the first time 113.64 .901
13 . Always willing to help customer 113.96 .900
14 . Consistently courteous with customers 113.55 .901
15 . Employees give personal assistance 113.86 .898
16 . Visually appealing service materials 113.71 .901
17 . Provide service at times promised 113.49 .897
18 . Never too busy to respond to request 114.00 .901
19 . Knowledgeable 113.90 .901
20 . Have customer best interest at heart 113.84 .898
21 . Insist on error free records 113.51 .898
22 . Understand customer specific needs 113.89 .899
23. In overall, I am very satisfied with this bank 113.54 .897


In order to reduce within 22 survey items of quality dimension to a smaller number of factors for modeling and to validate the SERVPERF model in the Vietnamese market, the researcher employed both exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). In CFA, the research approached structural equation modeling (SEM) by AMOS 18. SEM is used to explore CFA measurement model. All 22 items were factor analyzed using the Varimax method with 0.6 loading cut-off point, resulting in five factors totaling 16 items. Five factors together contributed to 72% effect on customer satisfaction (see Table 2). From the previous EFA analysis, the final SEM model extracted from AMOS 18 software included 16 items in five service quality dimensions and the overall customer satisfaction. The results of the confirmatory factor analysis in Figure 1 demonstrated a good model fit to the data on the basis of a fit statistic (χ2= 162.28, df = 105, GFI = .974, CFI = .981, RMSEA = .037).

Figure 1: SEM model

I can't paste it here :-(


Table 2
Rotated Component Matrixa

Dimensions Items Component Loading
1 2 3 4 5
Tangible 6 . Appealing physical facilities .781
10 . Convenient operating hours .879
Reliability 2 . Should do as promised .820
7 . Interest in solving customer problems .770
17 . Provide service at times promised .789
21 . Insist on error free records .806
Responsiveness 3 . Should tell when services will be performed .816
13 . Always willing to help customer .829
18 . Never too busy to respond to request .727
Assurance 4 . Employees who are trustworthy .809
9 . Customers feel safe in transactions .815
19 . Knowledgeable .850
Empathy 5 . Individual attention to customers .826
15 . Employees give personal assistance .743
20 . Have customer best interest at heart .704
22 . Understand customer specific needs .781

The current study seemed to provide a significant contribution to the literature by confirming the findings of other researchers (Hanzee & Salehi, 2011; Lin & Hsieh, 2006; Olaleke, 2010; Taylor & Cronin, 1992) in a different population (Vietnam) based on a specific industry (banking). The structural equations model appeared to confirm the importance of customer satisfaction in retail banking services in a sequential discussion in Figure 1. The straight line with one arrow head presented that service quality dimensions were antecedents of customer satisfaction. As bank leaders invest in retail banking services and expect customers to continue using them and refer their friends, bank leaders may have to provide quality services first to attain customer satisfaction.

Descriptive Data Analysis. The present model included five service quality dimensions: tangible, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. Descriptive statistics on service quality dimensions showed that reliability had a highest mean and lower standard deviation (M = 5.44, SD = .91). Responsiveness dimension was perceived lowest (M = 4.94, SD = .85). All service quality dimensions in Table 3 were perceived higher than average with mean values were more than 4 (neutral). Customer satisfaction is the degree to which a customer believes that the use of a service evokes positive feelings (Rust & Oliver, 1994). Table 4 showed that 328 (83.20%) respondents have positive response with the survey item, “In overall, I am very satisfied with this bank.” Approximately 66 (16.8 %) respondents did not agree and were neutral with survey item, “In overall, I am very satisfied with the bank.” The present study appeared to indicate high satisfaction among respondents toward retail banking services offered by banks in Vietnam. This findings is questionable with the study problem statement that one of the main concerns for the underdeveloped banking industry in Vietnam is the inadequate service quality in the retail sector (BMI, 2011; SBV, 2011). However, these findings seemed to add significance to the conclusions.

Table 3:
Descriptive Data of Service Quality Dimensions
N Min Max M SD
Statistic Statistic Statistic Statistic SE Statistic
Tangible 394 2.00 7.00 5.1117 .05064 1.00519
Reliability 394 2.75 7.00 5.4365 .04597 .91258
Responsiveness 394 2.67 7.00 4.9442 .04280 .84958
Assurance 394 2.00 7.00 4.9915 .05320 1.05593
Empathy 394 2.00 7.00 5.0431 .04968 .98609
Valid N (listwise) 394

Table 4
Descriptive Statistics of Overall Satisfaction
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Disagree 9 2.3 2.3 2.3
Indifferent 57 14.5 14.5 16.8
Agree 139 35.3 35.3 52.0
Moderately Agree 151 38.3 38.3 90.4
Strongly Agree 38 9.6 9.6 100.0
Total 394 100.0 100.0


Correlation Analysis. The interrelationship within perceived service quality dimensions in the study were also investigated through correlation analysis. This section involved with answers to Research Question 1. The hypothesis for Research Question 1 was formulated to determine if there will be significant differences in customer perception within particular service quality dimensions, as measured by SERVPERF model. These dimensions include assurance, reliability, tangibles, empathy, and responsiveness. Pearson’s correlation analysis was used to test the hypothesis.
H10: There is no statistically significant correlation between dimensions of the perceived service quality among retail banking customers in Vietnam.
H1A: There is statistically significant correlation between dimensions of the perceived service quality among retail banking customers in Vietnam.

All correlations were found to be statistically significant (p < .001; two tailed) with positive linear associations among the five independent variables in Table 5. Ten inter-relationships existed between the five dimensions of service quality ranging between .253 (tangible and assurance) and .475 (reliability and assurance). The moderate relationships included between tangible and reliability, tangible and empathy, reliability and responsiveness, reliability and empathy, responsiveness and assurance, assurance and reliability, assurance and empathy with correlation coefficient r > .35. Correlation analysis confirmed that all five service quality dimensions were significantly related. The hypothesis H10 was rejected at alpha level of .05. It was concluded that there was statistically significant correlation between dimensions of the perceived service quality among retail banking customers in Vietnam.

Table 5
Correlations between Service Quality Dimensions
Tangible Reliability Responsiveness Assurance Empathy
Tangible 1
Reliability .365** 1
Responsiveness .262** .351** 1
Assurance .253** .387** .431** 1
Empathy .429** .475** .306** .381** 1
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

Multiple regression analysis. Multiple regression analysis was utilized to investigate the relationship between service quality dimensions (independent variables) and customer satisfaction (dependent variable). answered the research question 2. The hypothesis for research question 2 was designed to assess the relationships between the overall customer satisfaction and service quality dimensions.
H20: There is no statistically significant correlation between overall satisfaction and perceived service quality among retail banking customers in Vietnam.
H2A: There is statistically significant correlation between overall satisfaction and the perceived service quality among retail banking customers in Vietnam.

The current study showed that 328 (83.20%) respondents have positive response with the survey item, “In overall, I am very satisfied with this bank.” Approximately 66 (16.8 %) respondents did not agree and were neutral with survey item, “In overall, I am very satisfied with the bank.” The present study appeared to indicate high satisfaction among respondents toward retail banking services offered by banks in Vietnam. Each of the five service quality dimensions had a significant positive bivariate correlation in the study. The values of univariate correlation (r) between overall satisfaction and five service quality dimensions (tangible, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy) were .411, .507, .318, .336, and .514 respectively in Table 6. The findings in Table 7 confirmed a significant model that explained 38,6 % of the variance in satisfaction in terms of tangible, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. This means that 61.4% of overall satisfaction cannot be explained by service quality dimensions.

Table 6:
Correlation between Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction
Tangible Reliability Responsiveness Assurance Empathy
Overall Satisfaction .411 .507 .318 .336 .514

Table 7
Multiple Regression Model Summary

Model R R2 SE of the Estimate Change Statistics Durbin-Watson
R2 Change F Change df1 df2 Sig. F Change
1 .621a .386 .731 .386 48.762 5 388 .000 1.967

Furthermore, the study involved evaluating a multiple regression model in an attempt to predict customer satisfaction in terms of service quality dimensions in a combined model (see Table 8). The regression equation was formed as follows:
Overall satisfactioni = 1.196 + (.150x tangiblei + .276 x reliabilityi + .080 x responsivenessi + .048 x assurancei + .255 x empathyi )

Table 8
Collinearity Diagnosticsa
Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients T Sig. Collinearity Statistics
B SE Beta Tolerance VIF
1 (Constant) 1.196 .289 4.146 .000
Tangible .150 .042 .163 3.592 .000 .773 1.294
Reliability .276 .049 .271 5.647 .000 .685 1.461
Responsiveness .080 .050 .074 1.618 .017 .761 1.315
Assurance .048 .041 .055 1.171 .042 .721 1.388
Empathy .255 .046 .272 5.564 .000 .664 1.506

The current study contains empirical evidence to support a significant positive linear relationship between service quality dimensions associated with customer satisfaction . The hypothesis H20 was rejected. It was concluded that there was statistically significant correlation between overall satisfaction and the perceived service quality among retail banking customers in Vietnam. Though all of the five dimensions were significant determinants of customer satisfaction in banks in Vietnam, reliability and empathy were among the most important factors.

Recommendations

As labor costs continue to increase, increasing service quality offer obvious cost benefits to the banking industry in Vietnam. Literature indicated a high correlation between customer satisfaction and profitability (Anderson et al., 1994; Wan et al., 2004). Bank leaders need to leverage factors associated with customer satisfaction to increase profitability. The use of retail banking services offers cost benefits that can also contribute to banks’ profitability. For bank leaders to effectively achieve profitability, they need to continuously improve all service quality dimensions discussed in the present study, namely, tangible, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. More specifically, bank leaders can predict customer satisfaction based on tangible, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy dimensions, which together explained 38.6% of customer satisfaction. On the other hand, the findings of the study can help practitioners and business leaders prioritize service quality dimensions when implementing development plans to improve retail banking services. The findings of the study can significantly improve quality development plans such as failure modes and effects analysis, total quality management, or quality by design.

The current study showed that all service quality dimensions were positively correlated to customer satisfaction. However, reliability and empathy ranked higher than other dimensions with a significant contribution of .28 and . 26 in the multiple regression model. Bank leaders might need to consider service reliability when setting up development plans for retail banking services. Employee and customer interactions are reflected through the empathy dimension (Siddiqui, 2010). Therefore, bank leaders in Vietnam should be well advised to emphasize the employee training programs so that they can offer personalized service to customers. Bank leaders might focus on providing more control and personalization to employees and increasing their office hours and ATM network coverage to capture customer interests in their offerings.

This result explained that 61.4% of overall satisfaction cannot be explained by service quality dimensions but from other aspects. Future research should discover other factors affecting customer satisfaction in the retail banking sector in Vietnam. For instance, future research should perceive other factors such as, pricing programs, levels of market standardization, or cultural preferences. In addition, the present study involved examining service quality dimensions associated with overall satisfaction of current retail banking customers. However, the study did not examine dimensions associated with customer loyalty and customer acquisition. High customer satisfaction is important in maintaining a loyal customer base (Siddiqui, 2010). Customer loyalty relates to what customers think and do with the future with the services. Customer acquisition is concerned with increasing market share and recruiting new customers. Two concepts are subjects beyond the scope of the study. Additional research into customer loyalty and customer acquisition would probably provide more insights into service quality and customer satisfaction in the retail banking sector in Vietnam.

Future research might leverage the findings of the current study in light of those found by Cronin and Taylor (1992) to enhance the survey instrument and provide additional thoughts toward understanding consumer behavior toward services, whether in banking or any other industry, and in Vietnam or any other country. The current model appeared to fit previous findings in the United State, but future researchers might replicate the service quality model in retail banking services in other countries to check if the findings match. As retail banking services continues to develop, there might also be a need to reinvestigate these findings in the future. Future research may also involve investigating how cultural differences might influence customer perceptions of service quality.

A future concern is the potential of other alternative methods of service quality measurement in the research context of interest here. Banking services in Vietnam are not as sophisticated as those in North America or other developed countries. Vietnamese customers have just begun recognizing the benefits of improved banking service quality. However, their demand for service dimensions is still very limited, and their tolerance for poor service quality appears to be high. They seem to be more concerned with the process of delivery rather than the outcomes of service, which indicated high results in five service quality dimensions in the present study. Future research may need to focus on comparisons of SERVPERF with other more extended methods such as BSQ (Bahia & Nantel, 2000), SYSTRA-SQ (Aldlaigan & Buttle, 2002), or BANQUAL-R (Tsoukatos & Mastrojianni, 2010). A focus on broad service dimensions tends to be beneficial for bank managers in the long run. It allows identification and response to customers’ priority problem areas and other service demands.

Summary

The main objectives of the present study were to assess the service quality dimensions (tangible, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy) and to examine the relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction in the retail banking sector in Vietnam. The data indicated that both customer demographic identity and bank characteristics were significantly related to perceived service quality (p < .05). In addition, the findings confirmed that five quality dimensions were significantly interrelated. Finally, service quality were found to be positively correlated and explained 38.6% of customer satisfaction in the retail banking sector in Vietnam. The findings of the study can help practitioners and business leaders prioritize service quality dimensions when implementing development plans to improve the retail banking services. In addition, research indicated that service quality and customer satisfaction correlates with profitability (Anderson et al., 1994, Wan et al., 2004), loyalty (Fornell, 1992), and positive customer behavior intention (Zeithaml et al., 1996). The leadership of bank leaders in Vietnam might benefit from the study findings and might increase profitability through increasing customer satisfaction and service quality.

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1 comment:

  1. Dear Ms. Van,

    I am a final year student of FTU, preparing for the final thesis. My thesis focuses on service marketing in retailing bank sector in VN, thus I believe the analysis you posted above is really necessary for me. So if you don't mind, may I ask you for the full document of the analysis as I want to make reference to the data in tables. If you agree, would you please send it to my email address at huongliennguyen.ftu@gmail.com. I really appreciate should I get your help.

    Many thanks and best regards.

    ReplyDelete