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THE ROLE OF COMPLAINTS HANDLING SYSTEM IN ENHANCING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Customer complaint is a customer’s expression of dissatisfaction towards a product, service or purchasing situation (Nakibin et al., 2011). Tronvoll (2012) calls it a formal or informal customer report regarding a problem with a product or service. Research has shown that, the way a company handles company complaints can affect its business success in the long term (Robert-Lombard, 2011). Gelbrich & Roschk (2010) assert that poor complaint handling procedures could damage company-customer relationship and cause customer dissatisfaction. It could promote negative word of mouth advertising causing potential customers to refrain from doing business with the company. It could cause low customer loyalty and significantly chances of customer retention. Awara (2010) opines that poor customer complaints handling ultimately cause companies to lose customers thereby losing market share, whilst the recruiting of new customers through marketing promotions cost money, effectively reducing company profitability.

When companies retain effective customer complaint handling procedures, customer attrition is reduced, customer satisfaction is increased, sales figures are boosted and customer loyalty and retention assured (Robert-Lombard, 2011). Various studies have put forward diverse lists of procedures to guide the customer complaint handling process. Gelbrich & Roschk (2010) conducted a meta-analysis of company complaint handling procedures and how they affect future customer response. The study showed that listening to customer complaints, being understanding, and jotting down salient points to gather relevant facts, discussing the complaint and following up with effective solutions was a very effective complaint handling process. Tronvoll (2012) however rejects a stationary procedure, insisting that complaint handling procedures are different in various companies, reaping varying levels of success. Komunda & Oserankhoe (2012) advocates for a comprehensive customer complaints management system, complete with complaint handling procedures, customer satisfaction checks, customer feedback acquisition and customer retention measures.

Every business organization`s success depends on the satisfaction of the customers. Whenever a business is about to start, customers always come “first” and then the profit. Those companies that are succeeding to satisfy the customers fully will remain in the top position in a market. Today’s business company has known that customer satisfaction is the key component for the success of the business and at the same time it plays a vital role to expand the market value. In general, customers are those people who buy goods and services from the market or business that meet their needs and wants. Customers purchase products to meet their expectations in terms of money (Awara, 2010). Therefore, companies should determine their pricing with the quality of the product that attracts the customer and maintains the long-term affiliation.

The organization should make sure that they are providing full service, equivalent to their monetary value. This will increase the number of customers and holds the long-term relationship between the customer and the organization (Tronvoll, 2012). And the existing customer will help to attract the new customers by providing or sharing the information about the products and services of the companies. Satisfaction means to feel content after what the person desired or wanted. It is difficult to know whether the customers are satisfied with the availability of the product or services. So, giving satisfaction to the customers is not an easy task, for this different factor is needed to be taken into consideration. Nowadays, competition can be noticed between the business organizations and marketplaces everywhere and has been one of the challenging tasks for the competitors. Though it seems to be tough in the growing market, competitors are developing their marketing channels effectively (Komunda & Oserankhoe, 2012).

Globalization has increased competitiveness in the marketing environment, giving rise to the need for companies to adopt diverse strategies to stay competitive. Tronvoll (2012) posits that market competitiveness demands that companies employ measures to influence potential customers and retain existing customers, thereby increasing market share and profitability. To increase market share, Komunda & Oserankhoe (2012) assert that companies must ensure customer satisfaction through counter-measures before sales, during sales and after sales. According to Gruber (2011), one of the most significant counter-measures companies can adopt is customer service, for which customer complaints management is a critical component.

Even when companies put forth their best efforts to serve their customers, customer complaints are inevitable and are a regular part of doing business (Fierro et. al. 2015). Complaint handling systems are the ultimate test for a company’s customer orientation as they strive to create satisfactory resolutions to customer concerns. A company may risk losing previously loyal customers when grievances are poorly handled. This implies that existing levels of customer satisfaction do not offer foolproof protection against the consequences of ineffective complaint handling. Looking at the issue from the other side of the coin, satisfactory handling of customer complaints may likely enhance customer loyalty. Studies have shown high returns on investment in effective complaint handling systems (TARP 1986; Fornell et. al. 2006; Fierro et. al. 2015). Thus many companies are seeking to develop such systems to cultivate loyalty among their customers. In doing so, two distinct approaches have been cited, the first of which involves setting standard procedures to program complaint handling employees on how to deal with customers in specific situations. The second approach takes a more open stance and consists of training and motivating employees to adopt a set of shared values that would likely lead to the desired behaviors. Therefore, this study focuses on the role of complaints handling system in enhancing customer satisfaction, a case study of First Bank PLC.

1.2     STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

There is an increasingly fast-paced competition for excellent customer service amongst banks, handling customer complaints effectively has become a real point for competitiveness. When companies show an inability to deal with customer complaints, customer allegiance could be affected, resulting in high customer turnover and low customer retention. Morrisson & Huppertz (2010) posited that, when companies fail to effectively handle customer complaints, that particular customer could be lost in the process, sparking a chain reaction involving the customer telling at least 27 others, who might also continue to spread negative news about the company involved. Consequently, the loss of one customer could cause a chain reaction where a lot more customers are lost: reducing market share, reducing bank profitability and increasing negative perceptions about the bank.

In light of these assertions, it is imperative that banks perfect their customer handling procedures to avoid the bleak repercussions that come with failure. The challenge here is that, most banks hardly, if not never, assess their customer complaint procedures to find out if it is delivering in terms of handling customer complaints effectively. Due to this, some banks adopt a nonchalant approach to customer complaints, especially if it is related to customer service, oblivious of the latent harm being caused to the bank. Therefore, this study necessitates the need to carry out a study on the role of complaints handling system in enhancing customer satisfaction, a case study of First Bank PLC.

1.3     OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY  

The general objective of this study is to examine the role of complaints handling system in enhancing customer satisfaction, a case study of First Bank PLC. The specific objectives include the following:

1.     To examine customers’ opinion on the level of complaints handling system in First Bank PLC.

2.     To ascertain the influence of complaint log book in policy formulation in First Bank PLC.

3.     To find out the records of prevalent customers’ complaints in First Bank PLC.

4.     To investigate the approaches of managers in in First Bank PLC in handling customers’ complaints.

5.     To find out whether retention resulted in all cases after the resolution of customers’ complaint?

1.4     RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The relevant research questions related to this study include the following:

1.     What are customers’ opinion on the level of complaints handling system in First Bank PLC?

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