ABSA clients' perceptions of the service quality provided by ABSA Longmarket Street branch in Pietermaritzburg.
The financial service industry has experienced massive change since the early 1980s. In the past, banks and building societies used to serve their customers' needs differently, but with the removal of many barriers in terms of pricing and various products which the banks and building societies sold their customers, these institutions have brought about changes concerning the expansion of the products and service which they offer to their customers. Today, many financial services encompass the philosophy of implementing marketing programmes which are aimed at looking after their customers and maximizing their satisfaction with the service. The main aim of this study was to investigate customers' perceptions vis-a-vis the service that is provided by ABSA Longmarket Street Branch, in terms of customer satisfaction. More specifically, the objectives were: • To identify customers' expectations in terms of financial services. • To ascertain the perceptions of ABSA customers towards the service ABSA Longmarket Street Branch provides them with. • To measure the gaps between the perceptions and expectations of the service that ABSA provides its customers, using the Servqual Score. • To calculate and measure the score for the five Servqual dimensions. Using the Servqual model to measure expectations in terms of service, i.e. what is expected compared with perceptions of service received, the study focused on ABSA customers who use the Longmarket Street Branch in Pietermaritzburg. Customers felt that brochures would be better when an information is printed in all languages and important messages be displayed on the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) screen and be advertised more often on television. Another concern was that customers felt that it is important for the staff to show sincere interest when solving the customers' problems. This can be achieved by keeping the customer informed with the progress of hislher query. It is of the utmost importance to provide the right service at the right time. Another concern raised was that customers need to be reassured that the problem will be solved and dealt with in a professional manner. Customers felt more secure doing their transactions at the branch rather than at the ATMs. They felt more comfortable to talk to people, as this builds long-lasting relationships. The majority of the respondents felt that management must encourage staff to share product knowledge that will help them to deliver a better quality of work. The study shows that there is a lack of individual attention when the staff deals with customers. Giving the customer undivided attention, being patient and calling them by their names, to make them feel welcome and acknowledged, can improve this. There is a necessity for the branch to extend working hours to accommodate everyone. The branch has to consider offering facilities such as the Internet and telephone banking, to make banking simple and convenient to everyone at home.
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