The Impact Of Internet Banking Service Quality On Business Customer Commitment. Nexhmi (Negji) Rexha, Curtin University of Technology.

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1 The Impact Of Internet Banking Service Quality On Business Customer Commitment Nexhmi (Negji) Rexha, Curtin University of Technology Abstract Using the critical incidents technique to identify underlying problems of the use of Internet banking in businesses of Western Australia, critical incidents descriptors on business customer s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with Internet banking were collected. These descriptors were discussed and organized into attitudinal measures of Internet banking service quality. Through testing these measures with 146 businesses in Australia, help-line support, convenience, security, efficiency, low cost and customization were identified as the main factors on which business customers perceive quality of Internet-based banking services. Findings are instrumental for understanding customer perceptions of Internet banking quality and the development of online systems that keep customers committed to using Internet banking. Keywords: Internet banking, quality of services, business banking, critical incident technique, customer commitment, Australia Introduction The banking industry is currently driven by technological advancements (Carrington, Langguth, and Steiner, 1997; Joseph and Stone, 2003; O Donnell, Durkin and McCartan- Quinn, 2002). Customers use the Internet to monitor their cash flow and account balances, execute electronic fund transfers between accounts, pay bills, and purchase online financial products. Internet use by Australian businesses is almost twice higher than its use for ordering goods and services (Business use of Information Technology, 2002). During the past two decades the marketing literature has made significant progress in underdstanding the interpersonal dynamics of service encounters in retail realm (Gönroos 1982; Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry, 1985, 1988). Parasuraman et al.'s (1988) scale to measure perceived service quality (SERVQUAL) has been followed by numerous attempts to empirically replicate its five-dimensional structure. Self-service technologies have created a new reality the effectiveness of customer interaction with technological interfaces becoming a determinant factor in customer-client relationships. Meuter et al. (2000) have identified critical incidents of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction with technology-based service encounters. Given that business-to-business transactions are the fastest growing segment of technology-driven services (Hof, 1999); Meuter and his colleagues (2000) suggested investigating what drives business customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction with technologydriven services. This article presents results of an exploratory study on understanding customer satisfaction encounters of Internet banking service quality and its impact on customer commitment to Internet banking. Its aim is threefold: (a) to demonstrate how the critical incident techniques (CIT) were used to develop multi-item measures that define operationally Internet banking service quality, (b) to discuss the use of multiple-item measures for identifying the key dimensions of customer perception of that quality, and (c) provide some empirical evidence on the impact of each customer perception quality dimension on customer commitment to use ANZMAC 2005 Conference: Services Marketing 213

2 Internet banking. The study was executed in several research steps; the structure of the paper follows them. Banking Service Quality According to Gönroos (1982), customers distinguish the quality of customer interactions that take place during service delivery (functional quality) and the quality of the outcome the customer receives in the service encounter (technical quality). The SERVQUAL scale developed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry s (1988) posits that customers perceive service quality through five dimensions: the reliability, responsiveness, assurances, empathy, and tangibility. A number of new factors that influence customer commitment to Internet banking such as, security (Sathye, 1999), and online systems quality (Jun and Cai, 2001) have been reported. Joseph, McClure, and Joseph, (2001) found that convenience/accuracy, feedback/complaint management, efficiency, queue management, accessibility, and customization are important dimensions of Internet banking service qyality. SERVQUAL has offered managers useful diagnostics that enabled them to focus in particular areas of personnel-based service for enhancing customer perceived quality. Yet, it has not defined what should be done to assure how the service should be perceived by customers across those five dimensions. As Brady and Cronin (2001, p. 36) noticed,...if service quality perceptions represent a latent variable, something specific must be reliable, responsive, empathetic, assured, and tangible. There are calls to identify the attributes that influence service quality perceptions (Oliver 1997), which would provide managers with strategic insights on response functions of each dimension of service quality. As it is generally the case with structural complex products when customers are not aware of the process that produces a service, customers perceive the quality of services of Internet banking based on the performance of online delivery systems not on the processes in which the delivered service is developed and produced. Because customers perceive Internet banking service quality based on relatively standardized outcomes determined by online systems, customer attitudes toward that outcome reflect overall quality of services delivered. Customer response to online systems is similar to other complex bundled products. Researchers have successfully used Brunswick s Lens model to develop a better understanding of customer response toward products (Urban, and Hauser, 1993). Brunswick s Lens model assumes that customer preference and ultimate choice depends on customer perceptions of product features and the way these features are presented to customers During in-depth interviews with financial managers that use Internet banking, two interesting phenomena were observed: (1) there is no standard for expected level of service against which customers build their own perceptions of Internet service quality, and (2) the role of personnel in the perception of Internet service quality is minor compared to traditional delivery of banking services and it is mainly related to the role of the help-line staff in troubleshooting. Methodology To understand the underlying dimensions of Internet-based baking service qualtiy, it is necessary to hear the voice of the customer, using the appropriate research technique. Where researchers faced weak or no theoretical foundations for the phenomenon they studied, they consider the CIT as an appropriate means for developing the conceptual structure for their research (Walker and Truly, 1992). This technique proved relevant in addressing issues in e- ANZMAC 2005 Conference: Services Marketing 214

3 business (Mahajan and Venkatesh 2000). To assess customers subjective perceptions of Internet banking service encounters, appropriate measures that objectively measure subjective customers attitudes are needed. The CIT has also been widely used to measure the causes of service satisfaction and dissatisfaction (Bitner, Boons and Tetreault, 1990), and consumer satisfaction and dissatisfaction with technology-based services (Meuter, et al., 2000). Customer service encounters with Internet banking are largely experiential and quality is thus inherently subjective. To capture this subjectively perceived quality and to express it in objective measures, in September 2001 a group of 12 postgraduate students, from one of the biggest business schools in Australia, interviewed 46 primary contact persons with their banks. All interviewees were prompted with a single open-ended question: We are carrying out a study of Internet banking services from the standpoint of business customers experience and would like your valuable input. Think about, and describe the last time you had an outstandingly bad, as well as a good experience in using Internet banking services offered by your main bank. The group collected 162 critical incidents that reflect the critical moment of truth of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction with Internet banking. Following the fundamental requirements of the CIT procedure for categorizing critical incidents to reflect the quality of Internet banking services perceived by the users, and recommendation of facilitating electronic meetings (Dennis et al., 1988), a laptop and an electronic projector was used by the author of this paper to facilitate discussion of the group. During this session, each participant presented each critical incident description he or she identified from the interviews. Then, the critical incident was sorted and discussed in the way that makes it possible to identify unique critical incident descriptors. In total 70 unique critical incident desciptors were identified. Each unique critical incident descriptor was used to develop an item measure as Likert type scale statements. These statements were included in the research questionnaire, in which respondents were asked to indicate a degree of agreement or disagreement. Based on the Dun and Bradstreet Database, a list of 650 businesses in Western Australia was compiled. In October 2001, the questionnaire was mailed to 230 businesses that used Internet banking and agreed to cooperate in the study. In total 158 questionnaires were received and from them only 146 were judged useful for the study. Results The principal component analysis was used to identify the key dimensions of Internet banking service quality and the scale was purified using Cronbach Alfa coefficients of internal consistency. As a result, a six factor scale that measures customer perceptions of Internet banking service quality were identified (Table 1). Factors were named based on underlying measures they represented. Factor 1 (quality of help line support) measures the degree which the bank helpline staff are competent, friendly, patient, and provide quick and useful responses to the client s enquiries. Factor 2 (convenience) measures the degree which Internet banking enables the client to complete specific transactions and acquire information in a convenient way that saves the client's time. Factor 3 (security) measures the degree which the customer believes that Internet banking transactions are secure, safe, and financial details are not passed. Factor 4 (efficiency) measures the degree of flexibility Internet ANZMAC 2005 Conference: Services Marketing 215

4 banking is offering customers to perform financial transactions, provides them with real time bank statements, and gives them easy and real time access on financial information. Factor 5 (low cost) measures the degree which Internet banking offers the business cost effective banking, reasonable fees, and the cheapest way to make transactions. Factor 6 (customized service) measures the degree which Internet banking enables customized services to suit requirements of its clients, and eliminates the hassles of paying bills. Table 1: Scale Items used for the Measure of Internet Banking Service Quality Quality dimension Example items Factor % of Cronbach Loadings* Variance Alfa Help line support (5 items) Our bank helpline staff are competent.879 Our bank s helpline staff are friendly.876 Convenience (5 items) Internet banking enables me to get specific information.813 Internet banking helps us to save time.812 Security (4 items) Internet banking transactions are 100% secure.804 Filling out applications online is very secure.801 Efficiency (4 items) Internet banking offers us flexibility on financial transactions.838 Internet banking provides us with real time bank statements.816 Low cost (3 items) We find Internet banking to be cost effective for our business.896 Our bank's access fees for using Internet banking are.873 reasonable Customized service (2 items) Our bank customized its services to suit our requirements.828 Internet banking eliminates the hassles of paying bills.828 Note: Total-scale reliability =.92 Cumulative variance explained = 69.5% * The loadings of each item on the dimensions to which it did not belong were all less than.4. From the results it is apparent that principal component analysis did not extract any factor that would reflect interaction with personnel in the banks, similar to responsiveness and empathy in the SERQUAL scale (Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry, 1988). While security is similar to assurance in the SERQUAL scale, it represents a different variable as it does not reflect customer assurance from the personnel but feeling of security for transactions via the Internet. Bhattacherjee (2001) found that users continuance intentions are determined by their satisfaction with IS usage, and their perceived usefulness of continued IS use. Customers who trust their banks are more inclined to commit themselves to Internet banking (Rexha, Kingshott and Aw, 2003). Customer commitment is measured by three items (Table 2). Table2: Scale Items used for the Measure of Customer Commitment Measure Items Factor % of Cronbach Loadings* Variance Alfa Commitment (3 items) Continue to use Internet banking for all future transactions..925 Recommend my business associates to use Internet banking..906 Satisfied with Internet banking services from our bank..851 Note: * The loadings of each item on the dimensions to which it did not belong were all less than.4. ANZMAC 2005 Conference: Services Marketing 216

5 Using factor scores of the key dimensions of Internet banking quality as predictors of customer commitment to Internet banking, the least square regression was applied to investigate customer commitment as a response to each identified service attribute (Table 3). Table 3: Summary of Findings Quality dimension values of linear combination of the factor scores the impact factor scores of the impact Significance of values of independent Significance Help-line support.279**.064 x Convenience 428**.280** Security.361**.232** Efficiency.282**.123* Low cost.371**.327** Customized service.126*.021 x Adjusted R 2 =.625 (p <.001).64 (p <.001) * p <.05. ** p <.01. Indicates significant impact; x indicates non-significant impact Given high coefficients of determination (0.64 and 0.625), the scale of Internet-based banking service quality proved reliable in predicting customer commitment to using Internet banking (Table 3). All six dimensions of Internet banking service quality reflecting factor scores that are a linear combination of the factor with loadings on other factors were proven to be a statistically significant predictor (high beta coefficients) of customer commitment to using Internet banking. However, two dimensions of Internet banking service that reflect independent factor scores (helpline support and customized service) did not prove to have a statistically significant impact on customer commitment, measured after items loaded in other dimensions were deleted. This finding is in line with common sense, meaning that helpline staff quality and benefits accrued through customization can be viewed only through their impact on convenience, security, efficiency and economy of Internet banking services. Discussion and conclusion The study demonstrates that CIT can be applied effectively for developing multi-item measures to measure conceptual structure and for identifying the key dimensions of customer perception of that quality. The study found that in business-to-business realm, customer perceptions of Internet banking service quality are based mainly on outcomes measured by three independent service quality dimensions such as, convenience, security, efficiency and low cost, and two dimensions that are correlated with them (help-line support and customized services). This finding have two theoretical implications: (1) it provides empirical support for theoretical foundations lied by Gönroos (1982) of technical quality; and (2) it shows that business attitudes toward Internet banking quality are similar to product quality indicating the need for a paradigm shift on research of factors impacting customer satisfaction with technology-driven services in line with Brunswick s Lens model. Decomposition of Internet banking service quality into attributes facilitates a better understanding of the impact of each component of service quality on customer s commitment to Internet banking. It provides bank managers and developers of online systems with useful actionable strategic guidance on how to allocate resources in a way that enhances Internet banking service quality. The ability to design and maintain online customer service platforms that offer high quality services becomes a very important strategic tool for developing a sustainable competitive advantage in today s financial services market. ANZMAC 2005 Conference: Services Marketing 217

6 References Bhattacherjee, A., Understanding information systems continuance: An expectationconfirmation model. IS Quarterly. 25 (3), Bitner, M. J., Booms, B.H., and Tetreault, M.S., The service encounter: Diagnosing favorable and unfavorable incidents. Journal of Marketing. 54 (1), Australian Bureau of Statistics, Business use of Information Technology, Cat no Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service. Carrington, M. J., Langguth, P. W., and Steiner, T. D., The banking revolution: Salvation or Slaughter? London: Financial Times. Hof, R. D., A new era of bright hopes and terrible fears. Business Week. (4 October), Dennis A.R., George J.F, Jessup, L.M.. Nunamaker, J.F, and Vogel, D.R., Information technology to support electronic meetings. MIS Quarterly.12 (4), Grönroos, C., Strategic management and marketing in the service sector. Helsingfors, Finland: Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration. Joseph, M., McClure, C., and Joseph, B., Service quality in the banking sector: The impact of technology on service delivery. International Journal of Bank Marketing. 17 (4), Joseph, M, and Stone, G., An empricial evaluation of US bank customer perceptions of the impact of technology on service delivery in the banking sector. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management. 31 (4), Jun, M., and Cai, S., The key determinants of Internet banking service quality: A content analysis. International Journal of Bank Marketing. 19 (7), Mahajan, V., and Venkatesh, R., Marketing models for e-business. International Journal of Research in Marketing. 17 (2), Meuter, M.L., Ostrom, A. L., Roundtree, R. I., and Bitner, M. J., Self-service technologies: Understanding customer satisfaction with technology-based service encounters. Journal of Marketing. 64 (3), O Donnell, A., Durkin M., and McCartan-Quinn D., Understanding interaction preferences of corporate and business bank customers. International Journal of Bank Marketing. 20 (6), Oliver, Richard L., Satisfaction, A Behavioral Perspective on the Consumer. McGraw- Hill, New York. Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., and Berry, L. L., A conceptual model of service quality and its implications for future research. Journal of Marketing. 49 (Fall), ANZMAC 2005 Conference: Services Marketing 218

7 Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., and Berry, L. L.,1988. SERVQUAL: A multi-item scale of measuring consumer perceptions of service quality. Journal of Retailing. 64 (1), Rexha, N., Kingshott, R, and Aw, A., The impact of the relational plan on adoption of electronic banking. Journal of Services Marketing. 17 (1), Sathye, M., Adoption of Internet baking by Australian consumers: An empirical investigation. International Journal of Bank Marketing. 17 (7), Urban, G. L., and Hauser, J. R. (1993). Design and marketing of new products (Second ed.), Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Walker, S., and Truly, E., The Critical incidents technique: Philosophical foundations and methodological implications. In Proceedings of the American Marketing Association Winter Conference. Chicago, Illinois: American Marketing Association, ANZMAC 2005 Conference: Services Marketing 219

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