Developing versus developed countries
Lukasz Skowron, Department of Management, Technical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland
Kai Kristensen, Department of Marketing and Statistics, Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to ask two questions. How does the customer's loyalty in the banking sector change (at both the structural and quantitative level) in the light of the financial and banking crises? Are any differences observed in those changes between developing and developed countries?
Design/methodology/approach – The paper consists of two parts: theoretical and empirical. In the theoretical part the authors discuss the nature of the banking and financial crises, the historical perspective of banking crises occurrence and main causes and consequences of those crises. The second part of the paper demonstrates statistical analysis of the obtained data from the Polish and European banking sector. The authors also present socio-demographic characteristic of the research samples and the character of the bank-client relations, comparative analysis of customer satisfaction index changes in the European banking sector and structural equation modes for the Polish banking sector for the years 2007-2009.
Findings – The analyses allowed the authors to confirm the main research hypotheses: first, clients of developing European countries demonstrate generally lower satisfaction and loyalty levels than clients of banks in Western Europe. Second, the recent banking crisis has affected the level of customer satisfaction much more strongly in developing European countries than in developed ones. Third, the recent banking crisis has changed the character of the process of building customer satisfaction and loyalty in Poland by strengthening the influence of the image area.
Originality/value – Hardly anyone has tried to measure the influence of the banking crises at the level of customers’ satisfaction and the structure of the process of building long-term relations between banks and their clients before.
Poland; Banking; Consumer behaviour; Customer loyalty; Customer satisfaction; Business excellence; Banking sector; Banking crisis.
The TQM Journal
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
In the literature one may find plenty of different articles and research papers which deal with causes and consequences of banking and financial crises. Most of them concentrate mainly on the economic, structural and financial aspects of the crises. All areas mentioned above are well described and analyzed in the scientific literature but it seems that no one before has tried to measure the influence of the banking crises on the level of customers’ satisfaction and the structure of the process of building long-term relations of banks with their clients. In this paper the authors will answer the following questions:
- How does the customer's loyalty in the banking sector change (at both the structural and quantitative level) in the light of the financial and banking crises?
- Do we observe any differences in those changes between developing and developed countries?
In order to do that, we will first present the necessary theoretical background and then make the precise statistical analysis of the obtained empirical data from the Polish and European banking sector with the special emphasis on the Danish market.
1. The nature and theoretical background of the banking and financial crises
Before one can start analyzing the recent banking crisis the whole phenomenon should be well recognized and defined. That is why at the beginning of this paper we would like to focus on the definitional issues. The IMF defines a banking crisis as a situation in which bank runs and widespread failures induce banks to suspend the convertibility of their liabilities, or which compels the government to intervene in the banking system on a large scale (Von Hagen and Tai-Kuang, 2007).
Following the IMF definition, a systemic banking crisis is when a country's corporate and financial sectors experience a large number of defaults, and financial institutions and corporations face great difficulties repaying contracts on time. As a result, non-performing loans increase sharply and all of or most of the aggregate banking system capital is exhausted. This situation may be accompanied by depressed asset prices (such as equity and real estate prices) on the heels of run-ups before the crisis, sharp increases in real interest rates, and a slowdown or reversal in capital flows. In some cases, the crisis is triggered by depositor runs on banks, though in most cases it is a general realization that systemically important financial institutions are in distress (Laeven and Valencia, 2008).
1.1 The historical perspective of the banking crises occurrence
The best way to start analysing the banking crises occurrence is to look at it from the historical point of view. The financial crises of the past have led the affected economies into deep recessions and sharp current account reversals. Figure 1 presents the percentage of all independent countries during 1900-2008 having a banking crisis in any given year (Reinhart and Rogoff, 2008a). The countries are weighted by their share of global GDP. This weighted aggregate is meant to provide a measure of the “global” impact of individual banking crises. As such, a crisis in the USA, UK or Germany is accorded a much higher weight than a crisis in Angola or Panama, all of which are part of the 66-country research sample.
Detailed analysis of the chart presented above allows one to distinguish the main banking crises periods in the twentieth and twenty-first century. There is no surprise that the worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s posts the highest readings of banking crises during this analyzed period of 109 years. Earlier, less widespread, “waves” of global financial stress are evident during and around the Panic of 1907 that originated in New York, as well as the crises accompanying the outbreak of the First World War (Reinhart and Rogoff, 2008b).
The next big savings and loan crisis started in USA in 1984. Additionally, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Nordic countries experienced some of the worst banking crises the wealthy economies had known after the Second World War. What is more, in 1992 Japan's asset price bubble burst and ushered in a decade-long banking crisis in the whole Asian area. Around the same time, with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, several formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe soon also faced banking sector problems.
After the Nordic countries crisis, the savings and loan crisis in the USA in the late 1980s and the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the present banking crisis of 2008 is the fourth major banking crisis since Second World War, and by far the biggest one (Sinn, 2008).
1.2 Main causes and consequences of the present banking crises
The present crisis started on the US market and has spilled over into other markets through direct linkages. For example, western European countries (like Germany, UK, France, etc.) and Japanese financial institutions sought more attractive returns in the US real estate markets, perhaps owing to the fact that profit opportunities in domestic markets were limited.
The background and evolution of the present crisis have indeed exhibited a number of features well known from previous bank crises worldwide.
The main causes of present banking crises lie in a combination of over-optimism on the market, bad accounting system, as well as various moral and banking hazard effects that were not contained by existing regulatory systems. The bad accounting system is the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which is now used by big companies throughout the world. The deficiency of the IFRS is that it does not mitigate systemic contagion resulting from asset price movements. When asset prices move, firms that own these assets are forced to revalue them on their balance sheets quarter by quarter. The timely reporting of non-realized capital gains and losses makes the shares of the company that holds them volatile, sending shockwaves through the financial system (Sinn, 2008). Putting it together with the rapid break in the real estate bubble which was growing almost in the whole world from the late 1990s gives a clear view of the problem (e.g. in the USA the prices of houses doubled between 1997 and 2006; a similar situation occurs in the western and Eastern European and Asian real estate markets).
In the current crisis, three moral hazard effects are particularly important (Sinn, 2008). First, management pay depends too much on short-term share price performance, probably owing to the excessive influence of investment banks on commercial banks’ policies.
Second, banks’ assumption of excessive investment risks reflects their expectation that governments will bail them out if necessary. This was the case in the savings and loan crisis in which the government explicitly served as a deposit insurer. Banks could take on overly risky projects without scaring off investors because the government would step in as the lender of the last resort.
The third, and probably most important, moral hazard results from asymmetric information between banks and their lenders. Banks issue securities with attractive nominal interest rates but unknown repayment probability. Often securities are created that are backed by sophisticated portfolios containing good and bad assets whose true risk cannot easily be assessed.
Even though it seems that at the moment it is too soon to calculate the whole consequence of the present banking and financial crisis, we would try to give the actual view of the scale of the crises and the estimated levels of loses.
Following the International Monetary Fund (Honohan, 2008), one can estimate total credit losses to banks and other financial intermediaries by October 2008 at around 1.4 trillion US$. Banks are estimated to account for a breathtaking sum of more than half of these losses.
Highlighting the fact that all the causes mentioned above and conditions under which economies faced financial and banking problems were well known to managers and authorities all over the world, it could be considered astonishing that the advanced economies find themselves in 2008 in the middle of a wide-ranging banking and financial crisis.
Summing up all the theoretical information included in this paper, the authors decided to test the following research hypotheses:
H1. Clients in developing European countries demonstrate generally lower satisfaction and loyalty levels than clients of banks in the western Europe.
H2.The recent banking crisis has affected the level of customer satisfaction much stronger in the case of the developing European countries while compared to the developed ones.
H3. Recent banking crisis has changed the character of the process of building customer satisfaction and loyalty in the developing European countries by strengthening the influence of the image area.
2. Advanced models of customer satisfaction and loyalty
The issue of the evolution of the customer satisfaction measurement models has been the topic of many professional papers and academic books (e.g. Johnson et al., 2001; Arbor, 1995; Fornell, 1992, 2007; Fornell et al., 1996). In the following paragraph the authors will try to briefly describe the development of the most popular advanced models of customer satisfaction measurement.
Swedish Customer Satisfaction Barometer is considered to be the first advanced model of researching customer satisfaction and loyalty. It was devised in 1989. The main inspirer and sponsor was the Swedish Post, which also turned out to be the greatest beneficiary of the new model (in the years 1989-1995 Swedish Post's income increased by over 300 percent) (Johnson et al., 2001). The structure of the SCSB model (Figure 2) is related to psychological models of customer satisfaction, but it broadens the construction by two additional categories: loyalty and customers’ complaints.
A new model, based on the SCSB, called “American customer satisfaction index” (ACSI – Figure 3) was presented in 1994. The main difference between the ACSI and the SCSB is a more precise definition of the “perceived value” module, which is a difference between customer's expectations and perceived (experienced) quality. Similarly to the SCSB, the American model (ACSI) assumes that a decrease in the number of complaints and an increase in customer loyalty should be a result of an increase in the level of customer satisfaction.
Europe's response to the ACSI was devising in 1999 a shared European model of forming and measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty, called European performance satisfaction index (EPSI). The EPSI model (Figure 4) joined together experiences taken from the American model (ACSI) and a few relatively “young” models used in certain European countries (mainly: Norwegian customer satisfaction barometer (NCSB); German barometer (DK) and Danish customer satisfaction index (DCSI)).
The data for year 2009 show that more than 50 percent of the biggest US companies used methodology based on the ACSI model for customer satisfaction studies. What is more, well over 300 companies and organizations in Europe take direct advantage of EPSI corporate results and analysis through subscriptions. Those information confirms that the EPSI and ACSI methodology is nowadays used on a regular basis on different markets and in different business sectors.
Elements of the EPSI model are presented in Table I.
3. Empirical studies
The research of the Polish banking sector was primarily carried out among the group of 1884 people – clients of banks – during a three years’ time period (2007-2009). The direct measurement form offered by the audit questionnaire was employed in all conducted research. The authors decided to employ a model similar to the European EPSI.
The main differences between the Polish model and the basic one are the number of questions which describe each of the areas of the model and the implementation of three quality areas instead of two used in the original EPSI framework.
The process of model creation for the Polish banking sector took place in two phases. First of all, the authors conducted face-to-face interviews with 15 high and middle rank managers and 15 regular customers of different banks operating on the Polish market. Thanks to those interviews, the authors derived the main determinants of the process of building the customer satisfaction in the banking sector. Then the authors once again asked a focus group of 30 different respondents (15 managers and 15 regular customers) to rank the importance of the previously selected areas. Thanks to the information obtained during the interviews and with use of the factor analysis, the authors determined three quality areas in the Polish banking sector model. The particular elements of the Polish banking sector model are presented in detail in Table II.
In the research a ten-grade scale was used, where 1 reflects the lowest level of an answer, and 10 reflects the highest one. Moreover, respondents could choose the option “I do not know” for each of the questions. The main advantages of the ten-grade scale over other scaling methods are presented in details in the chapter written by Kristensen and Eskildsen (2010).
3.1 Socio-demographic characteristic of the research samples and the character of the bank-client relations
The biggest advantage of the audit questionnaire form of measurement is direct participation of an interviewer, which enabled full control of the research process, exact explanation of its aim and essence to the respondents, clarification on possible problematic issues; and ensured a very high number of answers (around 95 percent) while maintaining full anonymity. Partakers in trainings, courses, symposia and lectures at universities in the area of Lublin constituted the group of respondents. The background questions included in the questionnaire allow to make the exact socio-demographic characteristic (Table III) as well as the frequency and character of the bank-client relations of the analyzed research samples (Table IV and Figures 3 and 4).
Summing up all the data included in the Table III, it should be highlighted that the whole group of respondents (years 2007-2009) consists mainly of young people at the age of development, entering universities, working and coming from different backgrounds. The socio-demographic characteristics of the whole group of respondents (time series for years 2007-2009) shows big similarities. Additionally, it allows the assumption that the respondents’ age, the level of life activeness and the level of optimism ensure that their opinions on subject issues were characterized by the necessary reliability and criticality in judging problems, together with being rational in expressing their views.
The biggest problem of representativeness of the research samples can be seen in the areas of respondents’ gender and age. As one can see, the analyzed samples mainly consist of young females. It is well known from the literature that both females and young people tend to be more satisfied than males and people in the middle age. Summing up those two findings, one may assume that the results of the statistical analysis of the presented research samples can be somewhat biased. However, it is very important to highlight that the bias will probably not affect the path coefficients of the structural models, but it will only affect the level of latent variables.
The data presented in Table IV led to the following remarks. First of all, one can notice that the whole group of respondents shows big similarities in the discussed areas. The majority of respondents claim to use their bank's services a few times a month. Additionally, almost 40 percent of the respondents in years 2007 and 2008 and almost 46 percent in year 2009 have been clients of a given bank for three to five years. Clients characterized by the longest period of contacts with their banks constitute the smallest group of the analyzed respondents.
As the first significant difference between the periods of time, one observes the structure of the research samples in relation to the level of optimism (Figures 5 and 6 ). The data showed that both predictions for the development of the Polish economy and perspectives for one's own economic situation in the following year were much higher in 2007 compared to 2008. For the 2009 data sample, it can be seen that the level of optimism of customers of the Polish banking sector were much higher compared to the previous year in both analyzed fields but it still does not reach the level of 2007 data sample.
This situation may be explained by recent banking crises and bad predictions for both Polish economy and occupation possibilities published in the year 2008 in local and international journals. However, in 2009 Poland turned out to be the only country in EU that avoided economic recession. On the other hand, a constantly growing unemployment rate caused the respondents in 2009 evaluating their own economic situation in the following year much lower than the predictions for Polish economy development.
The distribution of respondents in relation to chosen banks is shown in Figure 7. All three research samples were dominated by clients of two banks PKO BP and Pekao SA. The structures of banks’ (individual) clients for all the analyzed periods of time are similar to the structures of the Polish market of banking services for individual clients.
3.2 Comparative analysis of customer satisfaction index changes in the European banking sector
The data presented in Table V shows the trends of the EPSI Indexes in the banking sector. One should notice that from 12 analyzed countries only four had been measuring the EPSI index systematically within the whole research period of time (years 2003-2009).
The recent financial turmoil has not had too large effects on the overall customer satisfaction in the European banking sector, as it can be seen in the data presented in the table. However, the crisis has affected final consumers differently, and the satisfaction has gone down more in some countries (like Denmark, Baltic States, Russia) than in others, as seen in the country-to-country changes during the last year.
As it can be seen in the data presented in Table V, all analyzed countries, with the exception of Finland and Sweden, recorded declines in the EPSI index in 2009. Additionally, recent banking crises has affected the level of the EPSI index of developing European countries to a bigger extent than in the case of developed countries (the only exception is Denmark). This situation allows us to confirm the second research hypothesis (H2: the recent banking crisis has affected the level of customer satisfaction much stronger in the case of the developing European countries while compared to the developed ones).
What is more, there is no clear correlation between the level of economic development of the analyzed European countries and their results of the customer satisfaction index (EPSI). On the one hand, some of the developing European countries are characterized by the relatively high levels of the EPSI index (Baltic States), but on the other – for some of them the level of the EPSI index is much below the sector average (Poland, Czech Republic). According to the scores of the EPSI indexes, one cannot confirm the first research hypothesis (H1: clients in developing European countries demonstrate generally lower satisfaction and loyalty levels than clients of banks in the western Europe).
Additionally, it is evident from the detailed analysis that the perception among the customers of an individual bank now varies much more than before. This means that the spread between satisfied and dissatisfied customers is higher now than during previous years.
3.3 Structural equation modeling
The process of estimating particular structural relations occurring between particular areas of the applied model was carried out by means of the SmartPLS program. The relations valid for the whole research sample for the three time series will be presented at the beginning. In Figures 8-10 one can see the estimated PLS path coefficients for years 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively. The additional statistical data concerning both the level of adjustment of the model and the particular measures of the total influence (both direct and indirect – through other dependent areas) for all time series will be presented in Table VI.
The data presented in Table VI show that the area of “expectations” has the highest figures for the whole Polish banking sector for all analyzed time series. Moreover, in all research ceases, the perceived quality of services (considered in all three categories) is lower than clients’ expectations. This situation is the main reason why the estimated levels of satisfaction of customers of Polish banks were significantly lower than their expectations.
The “R 2, AVE, Cronbach's α and composite reliability” figures obtained for the analyzed fields (Table VII) show that a model constructed in this way provides a very reliable image of the mechanisms of shaping customer satisfaction and loyalty for the whole Polish banking sector.
- There are no statistically significant differences in the level of index values of all the areas included in the model for analyzed time series, however, one should notice that there is a slight drop in the index value of customer loyalty between 2008 and 2009 research samples.
- The comparative analysis of path coefficients (Figures 8-10) for analyzed time series reveals the following findings:
- for the area of satisfaction the main important difference is much greater importance of the image factor in years 2008 and 2009 when compared to the data from year 2007; and
- for the area of loyalty for time series from 2007 and 2009 there are no statistically significant differences. However, it can be seen that the data from 2008 show two main important differences (compared to the data from 2007 and 2009): a stronger influence of Quality 1 (negative correlation) and Quality 2 (positive correlation) factors.
The comparative analysis of total effects (Table VI) for the analyzed time series generally confirms findings from the path relations described above. In details it shows (from the 2009 research sample's perspective) that:
- The area of satisfaction is much more driven by the area of image (since 2007 the importance of that area has increased by almost 55 percent). The influence of the remaining areas on the area of satisfaction does not vary importantly from the statistical point of view.
- The area of loyalty is also much more driven by the area of image (since 2007 the importance of that area has increased by almost 60 percent) and less by the area of expectations (negative correlation).
- Another interesting finding for the area of loyalty is the change in the character of the influence of Quality 1 and Quality 3. In 2007 and 2009 one can notice a positive correlation of the Quality 1 area with the loyalty factor, while the data in 2008 show the opposite. A similar situation can be notice in 2009 where the influence of the Quality 3 area on customer loyalty has changed (compared to years 2007 and 2008) from positive to negative correlation.
First of all, in all the analyzed time series one may confirm (for the models used) the existence of the main triad (value – satisfaction – loyalty) of the particular elements which are linked by strong relations. What is more, the area of Quality 2 can be described as the main determinant of the level of all the mentioned elements of the main triad for the analyzed research samples.
Additionally, the comparative analysis shows that there are no statistically significant differences in the level of index values of all the areas included in the model. This situation may be caused by the cumulative character of the satisfaction and loyalty phenomena. In that case one can assume that the current banking crisis should influence the level of index values of the areas included in the model within next few years.
Even though there are no significant differences in the level of index values of the latent variables, the whole character of the process of building customer loyalty in the Polish banking sector has been slightly changed. The main difference is a much stronger influence (in 2009 compared to 2008 and 2007) of the area of image on the customer satisfaction and loyalty creation process. The analyzed data presented in Table VI allow us to confirm the third research hypothesis (H3: recent banking crisis has changed the character of the process of building customer satisfaction and loyalty in the developing European countries by strengthening the influence of the image area). This situation can be explained by the fact that during financial turbulences on the market customers are looking for the most stable and well-known institutions (image area) which are able to give them complete information and professional advice about all possibilities and financial products offered by the particular institution.
Expectations as well as availability and comfort of using banking products and services became less important for potential customers when compared to the bank's image, real quality of a given bank's offer and the level of customer service.
Summing up, during financial crises banks should concentrate on building the image of stable and well-prepared institutions. The proper communication strategy with actual and potential clients becomes one of the most important element of success. Research results suggest that banking institutions operating on the Polish market should pay more attention to their marketing strategy (especially in the field of promotion) on assuring potential and actual clients about long-term financial stability of promoted offer. Additionally nowadays clients spend much more time looking for information about the condition and growth perspectives of different banks before they make a decision about opening a personal bank account. This issue should also be taken into consideration by banks while preparing data to be announced on their web sites and other information platforms.
The last issue to be discussed but not the least important for present customers of the Polish banking sector is the level of customer service. Clients demand from their banks detailed and understandable information about different banking products and services offered by their institutions. It is extremely important for banks to be able to give all the necessary information in an easy and convenient way to meet all the customers’ demands and suggestions.
Besides, banks cannot lower their real quality of a given offer, because it is still the key element of building successful long-term relations with their clients.
The authors believe that the research within the Polish banking sector should be prolonged to see if the changes in the process of building long-term relations between banks and customers are permanent and if the character of the mentioned process is more similar to other developed European countries.
Figure 1 Proportion of countries with banking crises 1900-2008 weighed by their share of world income
Figure 2 SCSB (Swedish customer satisfaction barometer) model
Figure 3 ACSI (American customer satisfaction index) model
Figure 4 EPSI model
Figure 5 The structure of the group in relation to the level of optimism shown predictions for Polish economy development
Figure 6 The structure of the group in relation to the level of optimism shown perspectives for one's own economic situation
Figure 7 The division of the respondents between banks
Figure 8 The model of customer loyalty in Polish banking sector for the whole research sample – 2007
Figure 9 The model of customer loyalty in Polish banking sector for the whole research sample – 2008
Figure 10 The model of customer loyalty in Polish banking sector for the whole research sample – 2009
Table I The content of the EPSI model
Table II The content of the Polish banking sector model
Table III Socio-demographic characteristics of the research sample
Table IV Character of the bank-client relations
Table V EPSI index results for banking sector in analyzed European countries in years 2003-2009
Table VI The statistical data for the analysis of the structural relations for the whole research sample
Table VII The statistical data for the analysis of the model fit for the whole research sample
For the purpose of the following paper the authors will treat Poland as a developing country and Denmark as a developed one. Those countries has been already the subject of the comparison studies between developing and developed countries (Haffer and Kristensen, 2008, 2010). In this paper authors decided to expand the already made research and to measure the difference between those countries in customer satisfaction dimension.
More available data can be found in the reports of Bank of International Settlements and International Monetary Found.
For the purpose of H3 tested in the following paper, the authors will treat Poland as an example of a developing European country.
Information obtained from www.theacsi.org/
EPSI rating – International Benchmark trends for customer satisfaction and consumer Sentiment monitoring, January 24, 2011 – www.epsi-rating.com/../../../fig/stories/results/Press_EPSI-10_economy.pdf
The questionnaire methods of measurement are fully described, for example, in the work by Kaczmarczyk (2002).
The biggest difference can be noticed within the area of “respondents place of residence”. In the 2009 sample the amount of respondents claiming to live in a village area is bigger compared to research samples of years 2008 and 2007. This situation also influences the level of income of measured samples (the data obtained for 2009 research sample shows significantly lower level of income when compared to the data for years 2008 and 2007).
One can notice it by analyzing the distribution of the respective groups of respondents according to their age and gender presented in Table III.
One can find more statistical information about described problem in Kristensen and Eskildsen (2010).
In both studies a ten-grade scale was used, where 1 reflects the lowest level of an optimism and 10 reflects the highest one.
In Figure 5 one can compare the structure of the analyzed research sample with real market shares distribution for year 2007.
EPSI rating – European Banking trends; Pan European banking results 2009; www.epsi-rating.com – issued on October 5, 2009.
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About the authors
Lukasz Skowron is an Academic Teacher in the Department of Management at the Technical University of Lublin. He has graduated of from two universities – Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus and Lublin University of Technology. Additionally, he has been awarded a PhD degree in Management by the WrocŁaw University of Technology. He is the author of several articles and research papers. Lukasz Skowron is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kai Kristensen is Professor of Applied Statistics in the Department of Marketing and Statistics at the Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus. He is the author of several books and more than 100 articles in Scandinavian and international journals. He is cofounder of the Danish Quality Award and serves on the prize committee for both the Danish Quality Award and the Public Sector Quality Award. He is one of the founding fathers of the European Customer Satisfaction Index.