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International Journal of Service Industry Management

Quality in Retail Banking
R.F. Blanchard R.L. Galloway

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Quality in Retail Banking
R.F. Blanchard

Quality in

TSB Bank plc, and

R.L. Galloway

Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT)

Leicester Business School, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
The UK financial services sector has seen a growing intensity of competition
within the marketplace, particularly over the last decade.
This competition emerged in the 1970s (de Moubray, 1989) when banks and
building societies based their major competitive strategy on the traditional
marketing mix elements of product, price, promotion and place. However this
led, in the eyes of the customer, to homogeneity rather than distinction, with an
apparently common market concept and perceived competitive strategy based
on full product lines (Howcroft, 1991).
In a developing environment of “consumer awareness” (Lewis and Entwistle,
1990) leading to a greater degree of “consumer sovereignty”, no organization
can afford to neglect customer needs (Goodstadt and Marti, 1990). Coupled with
a widely reported over-capacity within the Financial Services marketplace, a
key differentiator leading to competitive advantage is obviously necessary.
There is considerable support for the argument that this should be quality of
service (Berry et al., 1989; Edwards and Smith, 1989; Ross and Shetty, 1985).
That the banks are failing in this is evidenced by The Association of British
Chambers of Commerce, which, in a 1992 survey of its members, found banks to
be sterile and uncommunicative in their customer relationships, while in 1992 a
Consumers Association survey found 10 per cent of customers unhappy with
the service of their accounts, twice the number reported in 1990. The UK banks
are not unique in this. Raddon (1987) reported that 40 per cent of those
customers switching financial institutions in the USA did so because of service
problems, while Grubbs and Reidenbach (1991) reported a figure of 25 per cent
closing accounts for the same reason.
The banks are not unaware of this and most are addressing the issue of
quality of service in one way or another, though the evidence cited above
suggests that these attempts have had little impact on customer perception.
This article describes work carried out during 1991 and 1992 within the TSB
to determine the perceptions of both customers and staff of the requirements of
a quality service in retail banking. TSB Bank plc is the sixth largest bank in the
UK with a network of 1,400 branches and 7 million customers.
The authors wish to thank TSB Bank plc for assistance in carrying out the research described
and for permission to publish.

Received August 1993
Revised May 1994

International Journal of Service
Industry Management, Vol. 5 No. 4,
1994, pp. 5-23. © MCB University
Press, 0956-4233

it is customer centred. 1988. Lewis.g. . 1986) with the reservation that customer expectations are not necessarily consistent or predictable (Haywood-Farmer. Peters. Most authors agree that service consists of an outcome and a process element. This. and the presence of the customer in the process. Grönroos (1988) identifies the five key determinants of service quality as: (1) professionalism and skills (technical (outcome related)). (3) interactive quality – customer contact with service personnel and other customers. (4) accessibility and flexibility. (2) reputation and credibility (image related). Kathawala and Elmuti. It also implies an awareness of the dynamic nature of customer expectations in requiring that these be anticipated. and (5) reliability and trustworthiness. implies that banks. In particular.IJSIM 5. should identify these needs and expectations and establish the way in which customers prioritize them. Oakland. Garvin. 1988) identify the three dimensions of: (1) physical quality – equipment. premises. Despite this the process or functional element is perhaps the most important in creating immediate impressions of quality. while in allowing for expectations it implies that the service should take account of this prior knowledge and experience. This division alone is too imprecise to be of much value in the design of services and further classification of service quality has been addressed by a number of authors. 1991. an appropriate insurance policy or loan) and process is the interaction between the customer and the service unit. 1989. The situation is further complicated by the fact that perception of quality is heavily influenced by expectation (Lyth and Johnston. where outcome is the achievement (or not) of some end by the customer (for example. 1983. but in requiring the definition of needs it does not presume upon the customers’ prior knowledge or technical competence. of course. The definition produced by Howcroft (1991) that service quality in banking implies consistently anticipating and satisfying the needs and expectations of customers covers most of the issues raised. tangibles. 1988. Gummesson. Lehtinen and Lehtinen (in Le Blanc and Nguyen. in seeking to provide a high quality service. 1985). In view of its comprehensive coverage it is the one favoured by the authors.4 Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) 6 Frameworks While a universally accepted definition of quality is still not available the majority of writers on service quality support a customer centred definition (e. 1988). (2) corporate quality – image and profile of the organization. 1987. Eiglier and Langeard – quoted in Le Blanc and Nguyen. cash from a cash dispenser. The variation in tangibility of the service. (3) behaviour and attitudes. frequently make it difficult to define the boundary between the two.

Figure 1 shows this mapping. These issues are addressed again later in the context of the data collected. SERVQUAL Components Tangibles Tangibles Reliability Reliability Responsiveness Responsiveness Assurance Competence Courtesy Credibility Security Empathy Access Communication Understanding Quality in Retail Banking 7 Table I. These are not separate dimensions since dimensions are by definition orthogonal and. counselling or less formally. is a process issue. and it appears that the fundamental ambiguity lies in the overlap of process and outcome. but even this can be questioned. The models proposed by Grönroos and by Parasuraman et al. hairdresser or bartender).Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) The first of these being technical (outcome related) and the last four are functional (process related). less ambiguous parameters are necessary. and they do not map unambiguously onto the basic classification of outcome.g. The elements are far too closely interlinked to form the basis of a rigorous analysis of the service situation. SERVQUAL Dimensions . (1988) as the basis of SERVQUAL. have a substantial superficial attraction. consisting of the five dimensions of service quality – tangibles. process and expectation. Even empathy which. may well be a primary outcome when the service is mainly personal (e.g. reliability. The model of Lehtinen and Lehtinen shows the most unambiguous linkage. at least in Financial Services. at least in principle. Likewise the SERVQUAL dimensions are not true dimensions. measurable. The most widely reported framework is that proposed by Parasuraman et al. assurance and empathy. responsiveness. Difficulties arise on closer examination. Professionalism and skill and accessibility and flexibility (Grönroos) and tangibles and reliability (SERVQUAL) all have obvious elements of both process and outcome. They appear to address a complex issue and break it down into a reasonable but not excessive number of components. These in turn are a consolidation of ten dimensions as shown in Table I. and there are no doubt occasions when corporate image is what is being bought. entertainment) the interaction is the outcome. In service encounters with very low tangible content (e. If service quality is to be measured.

IJSIM 5. The model can be perceived as a process for the design of a service: management develop an understanding of customer expectations. This model is shown in Figure 2. also propose a model of the determinants of service quality which identifies five opportunities for quality failure to arise (service gaps). SERVQUAL Parasuraman et al. consisted . Grönroos. It also provides a framework for analysing quality failures by identifying the gaps in this process which cause a mismatch between customer expectation and customer experience (perceived service). Methodology The article describes two linked sets of data. The first. Classification of Some Service Dimensions Source: Lehtinen and Lehtinen. Since this is a general model of the service process it does not suffer from the problems of defining and measuring service quality and does not require a rigorous definition of service quality to enable it to be used. use this to set up relevant quality specifications. collected in March/April 1991 by the consultancy Research International Specialist Units Ltd.4 Outcome Expectation Tangibles Corporate image Reputation and credibility 8 Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) Premises Professionalism and skill Accessibility and flexibility Reliability and trustworthiness Assurance Tangibles reliability Interactive Behaviour and attitudes Responsiveness Empathy Process Figure 1. and ensure that customers are correctly informed of the service standards. ensure that the service is designed and operated to those specifications.

This research was carried out by Front Line Market Research under the direction of the authors. management were not present during the discussion groups nor were records of the discussions made available to them. independent. Service Gap Model of the Service Process . This took the form of five structured interviews with management and four focused discussion groups. each with eight members of staff. being youth. as described above. The managers were selected randomly. The models proposed by Parasuraman et al. sex and socioeconomic class of the bank’s customers. while the discussion groups were selected to reflect the balance of back and front office functions. Figure 2. family. In order to maximize the likelihood of uninhibited discussion.Expected service Gap 1 Management perception of expected service Quality in Retail Banking 9 Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) Gap 2 Service quality specification Gap 5 Gap 3 Service delivery Gap 4 Communication to customer Perceived service of a questionnaire completed during interview with 439 current/deposit account customers of the bank.. Fourhundred-and-one valid replies were analysed. The views of a total of 39 staff were thus obtained. emptynester/retired). The discussion guide used is shown in Appendix 2. This was followed in late 1992 by a survey of staff. The questionnaire covered a very wide range of issues and only the relevant part of the questionnaire is shown in Appendix 1. The 31 aspects covered were generated during panel discussions with 50 customers. The sample itself was a quota sample reflecting lifestage (the categories. representing age/status. Respondents were recruited outside a quota sample (reflecting size and location) of 71 bank branches and interviewed at home.

9. 28. 14. 6. 16. 7. 12. 25. Privacy of discussions Politeness of counter staff Willingness to help Way staff treat customers Cash in machines Speed and efficiency of transactions Staff listen Tills open at busy times Staff available to help Informing of account changes Way mistakes are handled Clarity of staff answers Charges clear and explained Attitude of bank when lending Person for questions Availability of enquiries desk Return/replace cash card Queue at branch Opening hours Appearance of branch Taking time to match product/need Staff’s product knowledge Overdraft charges Ease of getting to branch Queues at cash machines Ease of understanding letters Informed of progress of applications Relevant direct mail Telephones answered quickly Getting right person on phone Speed of mortgage confirmation Relative importance 100 92 90 86 77 72 71 64 57 54 50 49 46 41 38 35 32 32 29 29 28 27 27 26 19 18 14 11 10 8 5 .were considered the most widely verified and applicable models and were therefore initially used as a framework for developing and analysing the data. 18. 20. This Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) IJSIM 5. 10 Findings Customer Perceptions Relative importance weights were calculated for each of the 31 attributes and are shown in Table II. 30. 10. 26.4 Table II. 13. 29. 27. 15. 19. Customer Ranking of Service Attributes Rank Attribute 1. 21. 8. 5. 24. 4. 2. 11. These attributes were then related to the SERVQUAL dimensions and to whether they represented process or outcome issues as shown in Table III. 23. 31. 22. 3. 17.

26. 17. but in general the attributes identified as important by Quality in Retail Banking 11 Table III. and there is certainly room for discussion of the relative balance of the elements (for example on item 10. 10. at least from the viewpoint of customers’ expression of needs. 28. to what extent should the provision of information be considered a tangible?). res = responsiveness. 22. 2. 24. 18. The data show quite clearly that the SERVQUAL dimensions are not exclusive. 25. 11. 21. 23. 3. emp = empathy. 16. 31. 14. 29. 27. 7. tan = tangibles. rel = reliability relationship was established subjectively by the authors in discussion. 19. 20. 9. 5. Tan/ass Ass Res Res/ass ATan/rel Tan/red Res/emp Rel/res Rel/res/emp Rel/emp Res/ass Emp Emp Res/ass/emp Tan/rel/res Tan/rel/res Tan/rel/res Tan/rel//res Tan/res Tan/ass Res/ass Res/ass Tan Tan/emp Tan/emp Rel/res/ass Rel/res/ass Tan/res Tan/rel/res Tan/rel Tan/rel/res Process Process Process Process Outcome Process/outcome Process Process Process Process/outcome Process/outcome Process/outcome Process/outcome Process Process Process Outcome Process Process Process Process Process Outcome Process Process Process Process/outcome Outcome Process Process Process Privacy of discussions Politeness of counter staff Willingness to help Way staff treat customers Cash in machines Speed and efficiency of transactions Staff listen Tills open at busy times Staff available to help Informing of account changes Way mistakes are handled Clarity of staff answers Charges clear and explained Attitude of bank when lending Person for questions Availability of enquiries desk Return/replace cash card Queue at branch Opening hours Appearance of branch Taking time to match product/need Staff’s product knowledge Overdraft charges Ease of getting to branch Queues at cash machines Ease of understanding letters Informed of progress of applications Relevant direct mail Telephones answered quickly Getting right person on phone Speed of mortgage confirmation ass = assurance. 6. 13. but it is suggested that in most cases the association is self-evident. 4. 12.Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) Attribute SERVQUAL dimension Process/ outcome 1. 15. 30. Relationship of Attributes to SERVQUAL Dimensions . 8.

way staff treat customers) and much harder issues such as tills open at busy times. rather than the outcomes. This is consistent with Figure 1 and explains the substantial overlap between process and outcome necessary to accommodate most attempts to classify service quality. and allows for variation between different types of service to be represented by measurement of the magnitude of a particular dimension. This is shown in Table IV. This might not matter if the SERVQUAL “dimensions” represented some underlying structure. Two other potential candidates are: (1) Subjective/objective.4 Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) 12 customers fit conveniently into the SERVQUAL dimensions without undue strain. the process/outcome distinction. A rigorous basis for analysis would require a classification of service quality which avoids ambiguity. staff listen. The authors suggest that the basis for one such dimension. The “dimension” is not focused on specific issues which either the customer or the service designer are likely to address. but their ambiguity and overlap suggests that this is not the case. This has obvious implications for service design. the availability of cash in cash SERVQUAL dimension Responsiveness Table IV. By weighting the SERVQUAL dimensions by the relative weights given to the attributes by customers. it is possible to develop a crude ranking. Indeed. This clearly shows the expected pattern that service customers attach considerably more significance to the process elements of the service. by being based on genuinely orthogonal dimensions. which provides a measure of the degree to which the quality of that aspect of the service under consideration can be objectively specified. the ratio is 82 per cent process to 18 per cent outcome. when the two alternatives of process and outcome are weighted in this way. What is less clear is the utility of the more detailed breakdown into SERVQUAL “dimensions”. However it seems more reasonable to regard this as a dimension rather than a dichotomy.IJSIM 5. this is seen to contain elements of interpersonal behaviour (willingness to help. Responsiveness is seen as the most important of these. For example. Ranking of SERVQUAL Dimensions by Customers Relative weight 100 Assurance 70 Empathy 52 Tangibles 47 Reliability 44 . has already been described and has been widely recognized as a key issue in service design. with a particular aspect of any service being located at some intermediate point between the two extremes. but in referring back to the original customer-determined issues. when judging quality.

Seeking to apply these three dimensions to the attributes identified as important begs the question of measurement. It is used here in the sense that hard represents physical aspects of the service while soft represents interpersonal interaction. although there is perhaps more correlation with the latter in that objective aspects are more likely to be hard. At this stage no more than a three-position scale has been attempted with each attribute being assigned to either the mid point. but criteria for judging privacy are reasonably objective and the issue is hard in that privacy depends on fixed facilities. whereas staff attitude is soft. and while some forms of staff behaviour might be universally considered unacceptable. This dimension in particular links to the issue of prior expectations. 1993) – thus a measure of the relative importance of soft issues will give an indication of the likely difficulty of managing and improving service quality. The establishment of a value for this dimension would assist the service designer by indicating the nature and appropriateness of control measures and the need for allowing discretion to service personnel. and the greater the subjective content of the service encounter. “way staff treat customers” is again process.e. the influence of the customer’s perceptions and attitudes makes this highly subjective. (2) Soft/hard. or one extreme. whereas such issues as “staff listen to me” or “politeness of staff ” are far more subjective. For example a study of customer perceptions of service in a supermarket (Harridence. Where a mixed Quality in Retail Banking 13 . The rationale behind the assignment is in most cases self-evident (i. Speed/efficiency of transactions can be measured but customers’ ideas of what constitutes “fast” are variable. as well as indicating opportunity/need for customer selection and training. Thus premises. An element which has been considered and rejected is the tangible/intangible dimension as this is well covered by subjective/objective and soft/hard. The authors suggest that this dimension is orthogonal to both the process/outcome dimension and the subjective/objective dimension. It is widely recognized that soft issues are more difficult to deal with – “The soft side is harder” (Vandermerwe. 1992) found that the elderly tended to prefer a slower checkout service since it increased the opportunity for social interaction. The issue here is not so much whether the aspect can be measured but the degree to which customers’ perceptions are consistent. This terminology is derived from the systems field and widely used in discussion of service issues.Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) machines is entirely objective since it is either there or not. of each dimension. and tangibles involved in the transaction are hard. the greater contribution expectations would be expected to make to perceived service quality. the values being assigned subjectively by the authors. Concerned with interpersonal interaction. One customer’s politeness might be another’s obsequiousness. it is self-evidently soft). “privacy of discussions” is a process issue. another property of a true dimension. equipment.

4 Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) 14 subjective/objective value has been assigned this is because the resolution depends heavily on customer perception. it was considered inappropriate to attempt a more precise measurement than the 50:50 point chosen. i. but there are reasonably well established norms. Given the subjective nature of this assignment. This yields the Attribute Table V. This effectively plots the location of this particular service within a three-dimensional matrix. Service Attributes and Dimension Privacy of discussions Politeness of counter staff Willingness to help Way staff treat customers Cash in machines Speed and efficiency of transactions Staff listen Tills open at busy times Staff available to help Informing of account changes Way mistakes are handled Clarity of staff answers Charges clear and explained Attitude of bank when lending Person for questions Availability of enquiries desk Return/replace cash card Queue at branch Opening hours Appearance of branch Taking time to match product/need Staff’s product knowledge Overdraft charges Ease of getting to branch Queues at cash machines Ease of understanding letters Informed of progress of applications Relevant direct mail Telephones answered quickly Getting right person on phone Speed of mortgage confirmation Process/ outcome Subjective/ objective Soft/ hard P P P P O P/O P P P P/O P/O P/O O P P P O P P P P P O P P P P/O O P P P O S/O S/O S O S/O S O S/O O S S S/O S O O O S/O O S/O S/O O O S/O S/O S/O S/O S/O O O S/O H S S S H S/H S H H H S S S/H S H H H H H H S/H S/H H H H S/H H H H S/H H . Weighting these by the relative weights given to the attributes by customers yields the breakdown shown in Table VI.IJSIM 5. The results are shown in Table V.e. certain types of behaviour would generally be recognized as polite.

subjective/objective and soft/hard the results shown in Table VIII are obtained. although weighting is not possible.Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) interesting result that although process issues dominate perception of service quality. Discussion leaders reported a strong sense of participation and consensus in all groups. In fact issues which can be classed as objective seem marginally more important than those classed as subjective. It was found that all comments could be unambiguously assigned to particular gaps and the outcome is shown in Table IX. Analysis was carried out by classifying relevant quotations. Quality in Retail Banking 15 Staff Perceptions The structured discussions and interviews were designed to establish the staff’s perception of customer expectations and their perception of how well these were met. When these are linked to the three dimensions of process/outcome. Staff Perception of Customer Expectations . a very close agreement with customer expectations is apparent. While it is not possible to rank these. Staff perception of customer expectations is shown in Table VII. while hard issues are almost as important as soft issues in this case. Again. Location of Service within Dimensions Table VII. Staff perceptions of possible causes of service failure were classified using the Gap model shown in Figure 2. this does not carry with it the frequentlymade assumption that quality issues are therefore soft and difficult to define. % Process Subjective Soft 83 47 53 % Outcome Objective Hard 17 53 47 Expectation SERVQUAL dimension Not to have to wait to be served Polite friendly staff Cash in ATMs Not to be dealt with by staff distracted by other business Not to be dealt with by staff who lack confidence/knowledge Not to be kept waiting for an appointment Privacy Welcoming environment Responsiveness Assurance Reliability/tangible Responsiveness/assurance Assurance Reliability/responsiveness Assurance/tangible Assurance/empathy Table VI. responsiveness and assurance among the SERVQUAL dimensions are clearly more prominent than the others showing a very close agreement between staff perception and customer expectation. as has been widely reported.

As described above. extensive research had been undertaken by the bank and it is apparent that a clear understanding of customer expectations was emerging. The fact that it was not particularly dominant may be explained by the profusion of local standards that were discovered and the very clear perception of customer expectations expressed by staff. Classification of Staff Perceptions Percentage Gap 1 Customer expectation/management perception 10 7.6 Gap 2 Management perception/quality specification 34 26. Staff Perception of Customer Expectations Expectation Process/ outcome Subjective/ objective Soft/ hard P P O P S/O S/O O O H S H S/H P S/O S P/O P P S/O O S/O H H H Not to have to wait to be served Polite friendly staff Cash in ATMs Not to be dealt with by staff distracted by other business Not to be dealt with by staff who lack confidence/knowledge Not to be kept waiting for an appointment Privacy Welcoming environment The low incidence of gap 1 issues is not surprising given the very close agreement between customer expectations and the bank’s perceptions of customer expectations (while it might be argued that gap 1 is really a senior management concern. This may suggest that a high level of awareness of customer needs among service personnel could reduce the need for formal standards.IJSIM 5.3 Gap 5 Expected service/perceived service 10 7. Gap 2 arose largely from the perception that there was no published set of service standards: “we don’t have any set down.5 Gap 4 Service delivery/external communications 24 18.4 Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) 16 Table VIII.0 Gap 3 Quality specification/service delivery 53 40. we just try and offer the customer the best service we can”. but in the authors’ opinion a lack of standard service guidelines across the branch Number Table IX.6 . Gap 5 identifies the importance of management acquiring accurate information about customer expectations and using this information as a first step in developing service quality. a much wider awareness would be expected in an organization seeking to promote quality).

As Zeithaml et al. the potential vulnerability of service delivery could be reduced by building teamwork and shared values in order to enable the component parts of the customer-supplier chain to become more congruent. Quality in Retail Banking 17 . the perceived lack of importance placed on the role of front-line personnel and the need to develop further awareness of the internal customer-supplier chain. Gap 4 was primarily concerned with the organization’s failure to communicate effectively with customers: “our adverts don’t tell people anything about what we do. This failure applied both to services and to processes: “they [the customers] don’t want any problems… [but] they don’t realize the bank procedures we have to go through”. “That causes problems when our customers go elsewhere and you say it will be all right but the other branch don’t do it. The quality of the data must be considered good since the data collection was designed and administered by professionals in the field of opinion research. It may well be that had the original survey been conceived within the SERVQUAL model this model might have proved more useful. (1990) mention. but this does not affect the validity of the analysis produced. Inconsistencies of service delivery are influenced by inexperience.Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) network does have strategic implications regarding the closing of gap 2. such initiatives need to be replaced by integrated standards consistent with the organization’s strategic objectives. Discussion The authors acquired this work part way through. and therefore had no influence on the structure of this phase. The original intention had been to analyse the data using the SERVQUAL classification and link this to staff perceptions using the Gap model. it may be forgoing opportunities to influence customer service perceptions and thus reduce gap 5. While informal standards are encouraging. by neglecting to inform customers of those areas where the organization is undertaking to enhance service quality. do they?”. after the original customer survey had been carried out. This is a criticism which could be applied to almost all corporate advertising. based as it was on clearly articulated customer concerns. The failure of the SERVQUAL model to provide any particularly useful insights into how service might be improved led to the attempt to develop an alternative model of greater utility. Consequently service perception could be enhanced by educating customers and thus influencing expectations. While staff clearly understood its importance. particularly in a multi-location organization where inconsistency can give rise to problems.” The preponderance of indications of gap 3 problems reinforces the susceptibility of this gap to service failure and occurs when there is a difference between service specification and delivery. Customer contact is not seen as valued: “…everyone sees it (counter service) as like a lower down job…” and conflict between front and back office staff was frequently felt: “…staff need educating as to what the service centres (back office) do and service centres need educating as to what branches do”.

4 Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) 18 The implications of the findings for retail banking are clear. They are seeking a responsive service with a high level of assurance. What is of interest is that the staff.IJSIM 5. One that gives an impression of competence and credibility.) and suggests scope for customer education as a simple means of improving quality by narrowing this gap. of course. and the lack of clarity it introduces does substantially reduce the value of the model. this model is general enough to be very widely applicable. and specific enough to give actionable diagnostic information. widely recognized. demonstrated a clear and accurate perception of customer expectations and recognized the need to meet these. staff feel that they have a clear perception of customer expectations. tariffs etc. a culture appears to have developed in which this role is seen as the lowest status and lowest paid in the organization. i. . The SERVQUAL dimensions were less convincing. one that can be trusted. the requirement for cash to be available in ATMs at all times is quite clearly a reliability issue. However the need for consistency. the gap model of Parasuraman et al. but as a result the use of the term dimension is invalid. While superficially attractive they did not readily align with customer statements of expectations and in many cases customer statements involved at least two of the SERVQUAL dimensions. as was the case here. The most significant cause of service quality failure was the perceived failure of the organization to value the primary customer contact role sufficiently (gap 3). This was both positive (advertising does not make clear the service which is available) and negative (customers are unsure of banking procedures. This interdependence is.e. There are particular problems with reliability which appears to qualify the other four attributes as well as being an independent issue. particularly in a multi-location organization. but if. in that relatively little importance was attached to gap 1 (perception of customer requirements). The staff’s perception of the reasons for service quality failure corresponded well with this situation. proved to fit the data perfectly and provided an excellent framework for analysis. Whether by accident or design. Gap 4 (external communications) reflects the staff’s perception that customers are not well informed about services or procedures. but how reliably should staff be polite? Perhaps reliability is a prerequisite for quality service in all cases and therefore in a different category to the other dimensions which may or may not be significant in a particular service. It provided a clear and unambiguous basis for the classification of staff perceptions of the causes of service failure and indicated clearly the means and responsibilities for reducing or eliminating those causes. would seem to overrule an ad hoc approach. Of the models considered. Customers overwhelmingly consider the process elements of the service when evaluating quality. In the opinion of the authors. it is probable that the need for standards is seen as less important. It is perhaps surprising that gap 2 (service standards) was not considered more important given the apparent absence of established service standards. at least in this bank. while the politeness of staff is an assurance issue.

(1983). Vol. S. and Marti. pp. G. 7 No. P. Total Quality Management. and a proper balance of attention in design and monitoring is necessary. 19-28. Garvin. de Moubray. addressing the hard and objective issues could more readily provide. pp. This would enable both the theoretical basis behind the model (are the dimensions really orthogonal?) and its generality to be tested. 43 No. A more important question is: does it assist in understanding service quality? In the authors’ opinion. This model has the advantage of allowing service attributes to be allocated a value within each dimension. pp. objective and hard aspects of this service are as important as the subjective and soft aspects but can be much more readily identified and specified. but more importantly. Goodstadt. p. issues were about equally balanced. IL. This suggests that although interpersonal and subjective issues are important. Service Quality. September-October. was not set up to test such a model. R. subjective and objective. November. (1989). Dow Jones-Irwin. It is suggested that the use of these three dimensions to analyse customer perceptions/requirements can direct the service designer’s attention to those areas which are important for a good quality service and identify their relative importance and ease of attainment. its application to the customer data presented in this case demonstrates a potential utility which at least warrants further investigation. A Profit Strategy for Financial Institutions. This one example. and provides a classification which avoids overlap and ambiguity. a high quality service in a fairly prescriptive and reproducible manner. and Smith. “Quality of Service – The Key to Competitive Advantage”. 194. Future work should include investigation of other service activities. and soft/hard. and Brown. 6-13. measurable. Journal of Chartered Building Societies Institute. (1989). (1990).Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) As a result of these shortcomings the authors propose a model based on the three dimensions of process/outcome. These are. Homewood. Quality in Retail Banking 19 . “Quality on the Line”. and monitor. February. Edwards. 4. and hard and soft. 19-22. “Banking on Total Quality”. at least in principle. subjective/objective. Vol. 97-100.L. (1989). References Berry.. Harvard Business Review. 68. while significant in size and scope. and are in the authors’ opinion probably orthogonal. It is further suggested that these three dimensions may well form the basis for a useful and rigorous classification of services. “Quality Service at National Westminster Bank – The Continual Striving for Excellence”. C. S. Current Accounts Which?.W. The model clearly demonstrated that process is far more important than outcome in determining customer perceptions of service quality. L. In other words. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management. and the results are at best indicative of potential. D. but it also demonstrated that. Further work is obviously required on the model proposed. in the case of this particular service. should include development of a methodology which can assign values to the three dimensions proposed during the data collection phase.A. pp. Bennett. D. Consumers Association (1992).R.

5. “Service Quality: The Six Criteria of Good Perceived Service Quality”. Haywood-Farmer. E. 7 No.A. The Free Press. M. Lewis. A. Spring.. pp. NY. pp. 6. Thinking about your dealings with TSB. pp. International Journal of Service Industry Management. Chicago. 9 No.K. L. 3. I now want to show you the list of statements again. Parasuraman. November. Lewis. J.W. (1987). 19-29. International Journal of Bank Marketing. Appendix 1 Part B Strength of Feeling Rating S2. Le Blanc. J. Service Industries Journal. Long Range Planning. A score of one indicates you do not feel at all strongly about the aspect of service. Zeithaml. and Shetty. (1985). A. “Quality Service – A Low-cost Profit Strategy”. D. “Service: Where Battles Are Won or Lost”. 28-33. C. Parasuraman.R. Review of Business. 193-204. January. pp. (1988). and Elmuti. V. R. Journal of Retailing.L.B. (1988). Proceedings from Operations Management Association UK Annual International Conference. pp. “Customer Satisfaction in Retail Banking”. L. Service Industries Journal. 3. 1. 4. Review of Business. (1989). pp. New York. (1991). Y. (1992). pp. (1991). Delivering Quality Service. unpublished. V. International Journal of Bank Marketing. Management of Service Operations. Bank Marketing. 1. pp. 3. 8 No. Vol. 14-19. I would like you to read each statement and write in a score of between one and ten to describe how strongly you would feel about each aspect of bank service if it were to change for the better or worse. March. 64 No.. 41-52. Vandermerwe. “The Role of Customer Care within a Cooperative Society’s Retail Division”. (1986). 43-5. and Nguyen. Vol. July. Vol. D. From Tin Soldiers to Russian Dolls. N. 221-9. and Reidenbach. Grubbs.L. 4-12. 10-13. International Journal of Operations & Production Management. 6 No. E. 106. 9 No. Butterworth-Heinemann. Oxford.E. Ross. Vol. “A Framework for Designing Quality into Service Operations”. Management Research News. “A Conceptual Model of Service Quality”. Harridence. 1 No. Vol. You will see from the questionnaire that a score of ten would mean you feel very strongly about this aspect of service if it were to change.N. Vol.S. p. Lyth.J. S.4 Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) 20 Grönroos. Raddon. Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations. pp. (1993). 53-8. (1985). Vol. Howcroft. (1990).R. J. “SERVQUAL: A Multiple-item Scale for Measuring Consumer Perceptions of Service Quality”. Kathawala. . and Berry. Oakland. pp. Probus. 8. Zeithaml. September. and Berry. pp. (1988).A.M. 10-2. 7-18. (1990). G. “Quality in the Service Industry”. “Managing the Service Encounter: A Focus on the Employee”.H. and Johnston. Gummesson. “Customers’ Perceptions of Service Quality in Financial Institutions”. 13-6. G. Please write in the box on the right of each statement the number that relates to how strongly you feel about each statement if the quality of service from TSB changed. 11-17. IL. “Systematic Quality Management in Banking”. (1988). p. 14 No. (1991). pp. B. R. Vol.IJSIM 5. “Making Quality a Fundamental Part of Strategy”. (1988). Customer Service Renaissance: Lessons from the Banking Wars. Vol. (1987). B. 3. pp. “Quality in the Service Sector: A Review”. 18 No.R. T. and Entwistle T. Peters. Y. Managers Magazine. “Service Quality and Product Quality Combined”. J.M. pp.

30. 12. 15. Strength of Feeling Rating Sheet . 16. 19. You may choose any number from 1-10. 11. 20. 8.The scores in between show varying degrees of strength of feeling. 5. 22. 6 7 8 9 10 I feel very strongly about WRITE IN (1-10) HERE Willingness to be helpful n (62) Speed of dealing with transactions at counters effectively n (64) Number of people usually in front of me in a queue in branch n (65) Tills available at busy times n (66) The way staff treat customers n (67) Staff listening to me Availability of appropriate person in branch with time to deal n (68) with my questions n (69) Cash in cash machines n (70) Length of queues at cash machines n (71) Opening hours n (72) Ease of getting to branches n (73) Staff’s product knowledge n (74) Taking time to find the right service/account for my needs n (75) Privacy to discuss personal financial matters n (76) Attitude of bank when lending me money n (07) Overdraft charges n (08) Getting the right person on the phone n (09) The way mistakes are handled n (10) Bank charges clearly defined and explained n (11) Return or replacement of cash machine card n (12) Speed of written confirmation of mortgage offer n (13) Being kept informed on progress of any application for a service n (14) General appearance of branch n (15) Receipt of informative leaflets and brochures n (16) Keeping you up to date on your accounts n (17) Politeness of counter staff n (18) Ease of understanding letters n (19) Availability of enquiries desk n (20) Staff available to help n (21) Ability of staff to answer queries in plain English n (22) Telephones answered quickly Quality in Retail Banking 21 Figure A1. 7. 3. HAND QUESTIONNAIRE TO RESPONDENT Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) 1 2 3 4 5 I feel not at all strongly about 1. 25. 27. 17. 31. 29. 24. 13. but please give 10 only to those you feel really strongly about. 21. 10. 9. 23. 6. 18. 28. 26. 2. 14. 4.

how can TSB staff overcome customer disappointment and attempt to persuade them to change their expectation ● are the Bank’s expectations of staff realistic in context of Service Quality ● – are standards of performance clear and attainable – do staff feel empowered to undertake their role how is TSB’s record in providing customer service felt to compare with that of competitors (if anything is known about this) . what aspects are most important to them ● is it a reasonable expectation that staff and customers should place similar emphasis on customer service or are the perspectives of the two sides bound to differ Are there any specific areas of concern for staff about gaps which exist between customers’ expectations of service and the actual service they receive ● list and discuss all areas of which staff are aware ● why do these gaps exist ● are customers’ expectations realistic – if not. what aspects do they feel are most important ● what effort do they make to find out what customers want ● what priority do customers place on customer service.4 Appendix 2 Discussion Guide: Staff Research (1) What is the current understanding of customer service levels ● 22 – by customer – by staff (discuss any differences which emerge) ● Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) how is good/bad/indifferent service gauged ● (2) (3) what standards of customer service have been laid down by TSB and why (discuss in detail) – to what extent do staff feel they have been provided with official guidelines on TSB’s expectations of them in this area – how effectively have these guidelines been communicated to staff – are the guidelines which have been provided adequate or do they require further clarification – on what basis do staff feel the guidelines have been determined – to what extent are they based on customer standards/expectations – are customers aware that TSB rates customer service very highly and has specific expectations of staff – how would customers be aware of this how satisfactory do staff consider the general level of customer service to be within TSB How important is service perceived to be from staff and customer positions ● what priority do staff feel TSB places on customer service/meeting customers’ expectations ● what effort does TSB make to find out what customers want ● what priority do staff feel they place on customer service relative to their other responsibilities as employees of TSB.IJSIM 5.

do staff consider should have been more effectively addressed by TSB and what are perceived to be the problems hindering delivery here ● what are these ● how important is it that these problem areas should be addressed immediately and why is this felt to be the case To what extent has Service Quality been implemented for “internal” customers how successful has this proved How do staff feel the Bank treats them ● do staff feel they share common objectives with the Bank in terms of Service Quality (and any other areas) ● is there a culture of teamwork achievement and shared values amongst peers/a sense of staff and management working together ● to what extent do staff feel that Senior Management are fully committed to Service Quality ● (7) who. in fact. Quality in Retail Banking 23 . is achieving a better level of customer service and how are they managing to achieve this Are there any problem areas known to have been overlooked/not addressed through TQM/Service Quality ● (6) – – how clearly have they demonstrated this – is this perceived to be a long-term commitment how many opportunities do staff have to discuss views with Senior Management – does Senior Management encourage this – are staff views on Service Quality considered Do staff have any solutions which they feel would help them deliver service to a standard which is closer to customer requirements ● what changes would they propose ● how would these be effected ● how would staff feel about an appraisal/reward scheme in the context of Service Quality (would this be congruent). if anyone. if any. be pursued too energetically with negative consequences – to what extent does the Bank respond to changes in customers’ expectations what specific customer service issues.● Downloaded by Indian Institute of Technology at Madras At 03:56 23 April 2016 (PT) (4) (5) – is it felt that other measures of success suffer to any extent (or do they improve) if a high priority is placed on customer service – can customer service.

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