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1.0         Background to the Study

This chapter introduces the phenomenon understudy. It consists of the background of the study, problem statement, objectives of the researcher in carrying out the study and the importance of the study to the organisation in which the study is conducted. The chapter finally outlines the structure of the thesis.

Consumers all over the world have become more quality conscious; hence there has been an increased customer demand for higher quality service. Service operations worldwide are affected by this new wave of quality awareness and emphasis (Lee 2004). Therefore service-based companies like the banks are compelled to provide excellent services to their customers in order to have sustainable competitive advantage, especially in the current trend of trade liberalisation and globalisation.

High patronage of services depends on the satisfaction customers derived from a service. Sales are directly related to customer satisfaction; sales increase requires improvement in the quality of service delivery to encourage continuous patronage. Generally, it is believed that services which continuously and consistently delight customers make them happy and satisfied. In such situation, they become loyal customers and will continue to demand the service which in turn will result in profit and growth of an organisation. As a consequence,

there is a shift in quality focus from the original producers‟ under different names-based suchquality”as“service(Garvin, 1 subjective quality”in Summers(Shewhart,2005),1931andcited“ope quality” (Steenkamp, 1990)basequality, recognizingtowardsquality asthea cus


subjective matter (Summers, 2005). Subjective quality has received much preference and attention, especially in free-market economies (Kondo, 2000), so as to win customers.

According to Saravan and Rao (2007), service quality remains critical in the service industries, as businesses strive to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace and achieving customer satisfaction. The financial services, particularly banks, compete in the marketplace with generally undifferentiated products; therefore service quality becomes a primary competitive weapon (Stafford, 1996).Literature has proven that providing quality service delivery to customers retains them, attracts new ones, enhances corporate image, lead to positive referral by word of mouth, and above all guarantees survival and profitability (Negi, 2009; Ladhari, 2009).

Despite the criticality of service quality to businesses, measuring service quality poses difficulties to service providers, because of the unique characteristics of services: intangibility, heterogeneity, inseparability and perishability (Bateson, 1985;Douglas & Connor, 2003).In view of this, services require a distinct frameworkfor quality explication and measurement. Among the prominent frameworks, SERVQUAL model developed by Parasuraman et al. (1985; 1988) is most preferred and widely used model for measuring service quality in the service industry.

1.1         Statement of Problem

The trade liberalisation and globalisation have resulted in keen competition among firms and industries. The Ghanaian banking industry is not exempted especially with the proliferation of banking and financial institutions in the country. With the availability of goods and services, organisations need proactive strategies, the absence of which can lead


to  a  steady decline  of  market  share  (Collier,  2006).  Researchers  recommend  making

service quality a cornerstone of an organisation‟s in marketingordertoensure   st

successful business (Asubonteng et al., 1996; Collier, 1991).

Customers have become knowledgeable and this has gradually led to a greater degree of

“consumer                        sovereignty”&Galloway, 1994),(Blanchardwhenmakingchoice.

Customers‟ choice of a bank over another i interest rates, quality of service,ervicedelive quality is seen as one of the key factor and thus has received considerable attention by organisations. Stafford (1996) opines that the financial services, particularly banks,

compete in the marketplace with generally undifferentiated products, therefore service quality becomes a primary competitive weapon.The banking industry is highly competitive; banks do not only compete among each other; but also with non-banks and other financial institutions both local and foreign (Kaynak and Kucukemiroglu, 1992; Hull, 2002).

In the quest to improve its services, retain and attract customers, Merchant bank has introduced innovative measures like extended business hours, ATM network, internet banking, improved banking hall facilities among others, all in the interest of enhancing customers‟ comfort.Theseefforts which aim at bringing satisfaction to the customers seem to be futile. Customers‟preferences and expectations seem not to match up with the bank‟s initiativesThereisincessantcomplaint. of long waiting at the banking hall, failure of network system and Automatic Teller Machines; and defection to other banks.

The emerging situation calls for the assessment of service quality in relation to customer expectation and service performance to help Merchant Bank to improve its service quality and enhance satisfaction so as to ensure customer retention.


1.2         Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to assess the level of service quality delivery at

Merchant Bank Ghana Limited.

The specific objectives of the study are to:

1.       Assess service quality level of Merchant Bank using SERVQUAL

2.       Assess customer satisfaction level of the services provided by Merchant Bank.

3.       Ascertain customer expectations of banking services to ensure customer retention.

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