SERVICE QUALITY DIMENSION COMPARISON BETWEEN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANIES

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1 MADRAS UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND FINANCE ISSN: Refereed, Peer-reviewed and Bi-annual Journal from the Department of Commerce Vol. 2 No. 1 January 2014 Pp SERVICE QUALITY DIMENSION COMPARISON BETWEEN PUB AND PRIVATE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANIES Abstract N. Prakash* Dr. G. Sugumaran** India which has a huge population base and are not tapped by Life insurance market, which in turn created an opportunity for the Indian and foreign nationals to invest in this market. According to the world economic forum, India list in the top of all countries in terms of life insurance density, whereas the china and japan are ranked next to India. After enactment of Insurance Regulation bill 2000, insurance sector has been growing relatively fast in India. At present there are twenty four players in the Indian life insurance industry out of which Life Insurance Corporation of India is an one and only public Life Insurance company, holds largest number of policies in suit to different financial requirement of an individual l(from High Networth Individuals to common man).the driving force for being loyal to are Corporate Image and customer satisfaction. For the customers of the private sector the highest mean value is for corporate image followed by size of operations and customer satisfaction and efficiency in sales process. Key Words: insurance, markets, corporation, public, company INTRODUCTION India which has a huge population base and are not tapped by Life insurance market, which in turn created an opportunity for the Indian and foreign nationals to invest in this market. According to the world economic forum, India list in the top of all countries in terms of life insurance density, whereas the china and japan are ranked next to India. After enactment of Insurance Regulation bill 2000, insurance sector has been growing relatively fast in India. At present there are twenty four players in the Indian life insurance industry out of which Life Insurance Corporation of India is an one and only public Life Insurance company, holds largest number of policies in suit to different financial requirement of an individual(from High Networth Individuals to common man). With a greater choice and an increasing awareness, there is a continuous increase in the customers expectations and they demand better quality service. Therefore, to sustain in the market, service quality becomes a most critical component of competitiveness for Life Insurance Corporation of India. Although, by providing quality services to its customers, the Life Insurance companies can differentiate itself from other service firms and will able to improve its profitability. The purpose of the present study is to compare service quality dimensions between public and private Life Insurance Companies in India. In this paper we discussed nine dimensions, i.e Tangibility, Responsiveness, Reliability, Assurance,Empathy (five Dimensions) derived by Parasuraman et al(1988) and additional other dimensions like Corporate image, Financial planning, Loyalty and Technology. These dimensions are vital for the present Life insurance companies to deliver quality services to their customer. We selected five private life insurance companies, viz, Tata AIG, Birla Sun life, HDFC Life, ICICI Prudential, SBI Life Insurance for the study apart from. * Research Scholar, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore. ** Prinicpal, Kaveripakkam college of Arts and Science.Vellore Dist. 63

2 N. Prakash and Dr. G. Sugumaran REVIEW OF LITERATURE: Lewis and Booms (1993) defined -Service quality is a measure of how well the service level delivered matches customer expectations. Delivering quality service means conforming to customer expectations on a consistent basis. Schlesinger and Graf von der Schulenburg (1991) suggest that the perceived service quality is a factor upon which the customer can distinguish between otherwise identical insurance products. Wells and Stafford (1995) found that lower complaint ratios are significantly related to higher levels of perceived service quality, as measured by SERVPERF, and this implies that regulators perceive service quality accurately. Researcher also found that customers tend to rate service quality higher if they are aware of their right to complain to the regulator. Leonard L. Berry (1995) said that because of the amount of money that is typically invested in an insurance policy, customers seek long-term relationships with their insurance companies and respective agents in order to reduce risks and uncertainties. Raj Marla Royne Stafford and Brenda P. Wells (1996) suggest that males and females are, overall, identical in their perceptions of claims service quality. Wells and Stafford (1997) employed both SERVQUAL and SERVPERF to measure service quality and relate overall quality perceptions to formal insurance education. They reported a statistically significant relation between insurance education and quality ratings was evident. Joseph et al. (2003) identified five factors of quality in insurance, i.e. claims, personal relationships, products/ services, life insurance and agent/benefit. Taylor (2001) concluded that the quality of after sales services can lead to very positive results through customer loyalty, positive WOM, repetitive sales and cross-selling. Lawrence A. Crosby, Nancy Stephens (1987) explained that life insurance consists largely of credence properties & insurance providers should engage themselves in relationship-building activities that emphasize buyer-seller interaction and communication. Mehta, S.C., Lobo, A. and Khong, H.S. (2002) recognized the six dimensions of service quality: Assurance, Personalized Financial Planning, and Relationship with Agent, Tangibles, Corporate Image and Competence and also said that expectations guide the customers assessment of the quality of services and managers cannot ignore this factor when deciding and designing quality programs in their companies. Gayathri, H., Vinaya, M.C. and Lakshmisha, K. (2005) identified that the service quality dimensions could be a basis for differentiation of the insurance players that could be developed into a sustainable competitive advantage for the players in the long run and they also concluded that non-price differentiation instruments have a better potential than price differentiation, because any reaction from the competitors to match non-price differentiation may require changes in the entire service strategy. Evangelos Tsoukatos, Graham K. Rand, (2006) found that tangibles dimensions does not affect customer satisfaction while word of mouth (intangible dimension) is an antecedent of customer repurchasing intentions and customer satisfaction does not directly influence the customer loyalty. Evangelos Tsoukatos, Graham K. Rand, (2007) developed and tested the hypotheses on all 25 possible relationships between the dimensions of culture and of service quality and also found that out of the 25 hypothesized relationships between the dimensions of culture and of service quality, 23 are confirmed and the remaining two are directionally supported. Sonia Chawla and Fulbag Singh (2008) revealed that the accessibility factor has a higher mean satisfaction as compared to mean satisfaction of reliability and assurance factors. Masood H Siddiqui (2010) revealed that in all the service quality dimensions of life insurance industry in India, the gap-scores are negative and for each of six factors, the gap scores were statistically significant (sig. <.05) and also found the maximum gap in competence dimension of service quality. OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY To compare the service quality dimensions between public and private life insurance companies in Chennai. 64

3 SERVICE QUALITY DIMENSION COMPARISON BETWEEN PUB AND PRIVATE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANIES RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The study is about to compare the service quality dimensions between public and private Life insurance companies. The public Life insurance company in India is only. The private life insurance companies which have been selected for collecting the responses are include Tata AIG, Birla Sun life, HDFC Life, ICICI Prudential, SBI Life Insurance. The study is conducted in Chennai city branches of life insurance companies. A sample of 200 customers of both private and public life insurance companies was selected for this study. Simple random sampling method was selected to collect the samples. Primary and secondary data both were utilised for the purposes of this study. Primary data was collected through structured questionnaire based on service quality model (SERVQUAL).The primary data related to life insurance companies were collected from the customers of both and 5 private life insurance companies located in Chennai city. The secondary data was obtained from journals, newspapers and magazines. Statistical tool used in this study is test ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSIONS COMPARISON BETWEEN AND PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANY The E P scores of when compared to that of P reveals that the customers of the private life insurance company are more dissatisfied compared to the customers of with reference to product awareness, advertisement, assured return, regular income, speed of decisions, appealing facilities, transparency and adoption of technology. The private insurance customers are better off in the aspects of performance guarantee, agents recommendation, tax benefits, service behaviour, information about new products, competence in business and corporate image. Table 1 - SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AND P Service Quality Product Quality Corporate Quality Publicity Quality In table 1, the variables are grouped as Service Quality, Product Quality, Corporate Quality and Publicity Quality. The Service Quality consists of variables like speed of decisions, service behaviour and appealing facilities. The Product Quality is made up of variables like assured return, regular income, tax benefits and bonus. Variables like performance guarantee, competence in business, brand/corporate image, adoption of technology and transparency are grouped and is named as Corporate Quality. The balance of the 16 variables like agents recommendation, advertisement and information about new products and schemes are named as publicity Quality. The mean values of the four groups of variables of and P show equality. In the current scenario, with the entry of private players the competition has become severe. The customers have a very high level of expectations; and P are adopting various strategies of performance to achieve the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction. Both the sectors are moderate in their performance levels and there is much more to be done. 65

4 N. Prakash and Dr. G. Sugumaran Table 2 - SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE IN CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES BETWEEN AND P Product features Feedback Quick delivery Product advise Simple payment Convenience Technology Post purchase Complete information Wide range Facilities Quality Reputation Size & level of operations The life insurance companies exhibit various characteristic features with reference to their products, delivery process and service behavior. From the above table, it is clear that there is no significant difference between the characteristic features exhibited by the and the private insurance companies. The customers are of the opinion that the unique product features, payment system, convenience and quick delivery system, company reputation are exhibited by the and private insurance companies. Table 3 - SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE IN REASONS FOR LOYALTY BETWEEN AND P Service quality Sale staff Efficiency Corporate image Pre purchase service Post purchase service Size of operations There are various reasons like service quality, corporate image, and pre and post purchase service, for being loyal to the insurance company from which the policy has been purchased. From the above table it is clear that there is no significant difference in the reasons for being loyal in the or private insurance 66

5 SERVICE QUALITY DIMENSION COMPARISON BETWEEN PUB AND PRIVATE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANIES Table 4 - SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE ON REASONS FOR MAINTAINING PERSISTENCY BETWEEN AND P. Group Statistics Variable Nature N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean Switching barriers P Relationship P Switching costs P Affinity with agent P Excellent services Table 5 - SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE ON REASONS FOR MAINTAINING PERSISTENCY BETWEEN AND P. Switching barriers Relationship Switching cost Affinity with agent Excellent services From the above tables, it is clear that there is no significant difference between customers of both sectors with reference to being persistent with an insurance company except on switching over costs. The customers of both sectors feel that switching over costs involved in shifting their existing policies to other companies acts as a major burden and thus results in persistency. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION. Opinion of customers on expectations, perceptions, various features of life insurance policies and other elements of customer satisfaction like loyalty, persistency, withdrawal of policies, the regulatory mechanism, agreement, benefits, repurchase and purchase decision and conduct of the life insurance business The high mean value in the t-test on consumer expectations and their personal experience in the form of perceptions clearly shows that the expectations of the customers of and P are very high and have not been perceived by the insurance companies. Transparency and extra coverage expectations are high in the case of and the P customers. The customers of have a higher level of corporate image expectation. The customers of both the sectors are of the opinion 67

6 N. Prakash and Dr. G. Sugumaran that the various characteristic features are present. The company s reputation and level of operations has the highest mean for both the sectors The driving force for being loyal to are Corporate Image and customer satisfaction. For the customers of the private sector the highest mean value is for corporate image followed by size of operations and customer satisfaction and efficiency in sales process. Long term relationship with the company is of prime importance for being persistent with or P and moreover they are of the opinion that switching over costs or barriers are not of that importance for maintaining persistency. The customers of have affinity with the agent whereas the customers of P look for excellent services for being persistent. REFERENCES 1. Arora R and Stoner C (1996), The Effect of Perceived Service Quality and Name Familiarity on the Service Selection Decision, Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 10,No. 1, pp Berry, L. L. (1995). Relationship marketing of s e r v i c e s g r o w i n g i n t e r e s t, e m e r g i n g perspectives. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 23 (Fall), Crosby, L. A. & Stephens, N. (1987). Effects of relationship marketing on satisfaction, retention, and prices in the life insurance industry. Journal of Marketing Research, 24(November), Gayathri, H., Vinaya, M.C. and Lakshmisha, K. (2005). A pilot study on the service quality of insurance companies. Journal of Services Research, 5(2): Josep, M., Stone, G. and Anderson, K. (2003). Insurance customers' assessment of service quality: a critical evaluation. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 10(1): Lewis, Robert C. and Bernard H. Booms (1983), "The Marketing Aspects of Service Quality," in Emerging Perspectives on Services Marketing, L. Berry, G. Shostack, and G. Upah, eds., Chicago: American Marketing, Mehta, S.C., Lobo, A. and Khong, H.S. (2002). MSS, MSA and zone of tolerance as measures of service quality: A study in the life insurance industry. Second International Services Marketing Conference. University of Queensland, July Schlesinger, H. and Graf von der Schulenburg, M.G.J. (1991). Search costs, switching costs and product heterogeneity in an insurance market. Journal of Risk and Insurance, 58(1): Siddiqui, H. M. and Sharma,T.G.(2010), Measuring the Customer Perceived Service Quality for Life Insurance Services: An Empirical Investigation, International Business Research Vol. 3, No. 3; July Stafford, Μ.R. and Wells, Β.P. (1996). The effect of demographic variables on perceived claims service quality. Journal of Insurance Issues, 19(2): Taylor S.A. (2001). Assessing the Use of Regression Analysis in Examining Service Recovery in the Insurance Industry: Relating Service Quality, Customer Satisfaction and Customer Trust. Journal of Insurance Issues, 24(1/2): Tsoukatos, E. and Rand, G.K. (2006). Path analysis of perceived service quality, satisfaction and loyalty in Greek insurance, Managing Service Quality, 16(5): Tsoukatos, E. and Rand, G.K. (2007). Cultural Influences on Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction: Evidence from Greek Insurance, Managing Service Quality, 17(4): Wells B.P. and Stafford, M.R. (1995). Service Quality in the Insurance Industry: Service Perceptions vs. Regulatory Perceptions. Journal of Insurance Regulation, 13(4): Wells B.P. and Stafford, M.R. (1997). Insurance education efforts and insurer service quality. Journal of Insurance Regulation, 15(4):

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