The topic of this research work is of course, customer services in the financial institutions, a step towards improving profitability (a case study of Union Bank Plc Oko).
Woodruff (1997) defines profitability as the ability of an investment or a company to make a profit after costs. Overhead, etc. profit on the other hand, is the difference between the income of the business and all its costs and expenses over a period of time.
Shaw (1990) defines a service as a performance that delivers some combination of benefit to the customer.
Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, a bank established in 1917, as Bank of Colonial Africa, increased its profits after tax from 5.035 billion in 2001 to 9.375 billion naira in 2005. In July 2009, the bank was rated the 556th largest bank in the world and the 14th largest bank in Africa, with an asset base of US $826 million.
However, the bank was one of the banks that were controversially indicated by the Central Bank of Nigeria in November 2009, for what the apex bank termed as improper loan and financial management.
The profitability of banks could be increased through a plethora of ways. These include the aforementioned financial management, the recruitment and training of seasoned personnel, honesty of staff intensive/extensive selling efforts and other factors. Nevertheless, the focus of this work is to examine how profitability could be increased through improved customer services. This line of thought is congruent with the marketing concept, which makes consumer satisfaction the fulkrum of all organizational activity, banks not being exceptions.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In the last ten years there have been important changes in the business of consumer financial services. The main characteristic that has marked the evolution of the financial system has been paradoxical (in the sense of reduction in number of banks but increase in their ability to compete, through bank consolidation) increase in competition in the sector. The banking business has undergone changes in the regulation of the sector, changes in consumers demand for services, technological changes and the entry of new competitors from businesses outside banking (Gardner et al, 1999). Due to this an increasingly open and competitive framework has been formed, in which many financial entities are beginning to be concerned about developing defensive strategies, in order to avoid in discriminate loss of customers. According to Jacuhy and Chestnut (1978), firms should strive to maintain long-term relationships with their customers, in order to obtain the advantages of a clientele loyal to the firm.
Union Bank of Nigeria Plc was established in 1917, as Bank of Colonial African. It opened its bank at Oko in August 15,1995. The bank, since its inception has initiated several customer friendly innovations and strategies which it also extended to its Oko branch. These innovation and strategies include the use of Automatic teller machines (ATM), Computerized banking services, automated security check doors, bullet proof bullion services, flash me cash, air conditioned banking hall, cable television etc.
We will examine, in the course of this research work of course, at a macro level, how these customer services innovations and strategies have increased the profitability of the bank. we will also recommend ways in which the bank could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its service delivery system.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
i. Lack of customers satisfaction.
ii. Loss of market share
iii. Poor customer relationship
iv. Lack of improved customer service
v. Poor quality services rendered to their customers
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
i. To determine if customers are satisfied with performances of the bank.
ii. To find out the best way to increase the banks customers.
iii. To increase the staff and customer relationship.
iv. To determine how best to improve customer service.
v. To find out how to improve the quality of services rendered to the customers.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research work may be helpful to those who are either carrying out research work in banks profitability, customer service, hotels any other establishments in the service industry.
It will also be useful to scholars and students of the aforementioned areas.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following are the research questions
i) How is Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Oko branch rated by its customers and the general public, in terms of profitability?
ii) Which of Union Bank of Nigeria’s customer service innovations are its customers aware of?
iii) How do they rate them, vis-à-vis their ability to engender customer satisfaction?
iv) What perception do the customers of Union Bank of Nigeria have of the courteousness and friendliness of their staff at Oko branch?
v) What do the customers of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Oko branch feel about their speed of service?
The hypothesis was formulated based on the problems stated above.
i. Null Hypothesis – Ho: The profitability of financial institutions in Nigeria cannot be increased through improved customer service.
ii. Alterative Hypothesis – Hi: The profitability of financial institutions in Nigeria can be increased through improved customer service.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research work is limited to Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, is services are more or less similar to that of other banks.
Based on this, the researcher has decided to find out the kind of services and how to satisfactorily these services are rendered to customers.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The following terms are hereby defined:
i) Customer Services: An instrumental activity performed for a consumer or a consummatory activity involving consumer participation in but not ownership of a company’s product and facilities
ii) Marketing: Marketing is a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating offering and exchanging products of value with others.
iii) Marketing Concept: is a corporate state of mind that insists on the integration and co-ordination of all the marketing functions which in turn are melded with all other corporate functions, for the basic purpose of producing optimal consumer benefits and maximum long-range corporate profit.
iv) Commercial Bank: is an institution which accepts deposits, makes business loans and offers related services for profit.
v) Bank: This is any person or institution responsible for collecting deposits and other valuable items from customers for safe-keeping.
vi) Customer satisfaction: – This is the extent to which a firm fulfills customers needs desires and expectations.
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