IMPACT OF SOFTWARE APPLICATION ON CUSTOMER LOYALTY: A STUDY OF ACCESS BANK PLC, NIGERIA
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Rapid software technology evolution has quickened the rate of service innovation that strengthens the dimension of rivalry in the Information Technology service market. Advances in software application are allowing companies to introduce new services that are of high quality, of great diversity, and customizable, thus attracting customers away from their original service providers and leading to high customer churn rates. This is especially true for Information Technology service providers in the consumer technology market.
Software application has now been accepted as one of the main driving force behind organizational competitiveness in the present day business environment. Presently, Software application is having dramatic impact on almost all areas of human activities and one of the areas of economic activities in which this influence is most obvious is the customer loyalty. The use of customer-friendly software application plays a key role in improving retention capacity in an organization. Proper use of software application has become the primary driver of efficiency and monetary development in the world economy. Gartner observed that the worldwide Information Technology service market will develop consistently and reach about US$ 3 trillion by 2015 (Gordon, 2012). Software service innovation has turned into an urgent task for organizations to gain upper hand in an area of fast innovation advancement to aid better customer loyalty. Consequently, the management of software service innovation is a major challenge to software technology service providers in terms of formulating and deploying strategies. One particularly important strategic issue facing Information Technology service providers relates to building customer loyalty in a competitive market with rapid technology evolution (Rust and Miu, 2006).
An important mechanism underlying the impacts of software service innovation on customer loyalty is the formation of customer-based brand equity, defined as a consumer’s personal identification with the focal brand and the brand’s relevance to the consumer’s personal situation (Johnson et al. 2006). In the Information Technology service marketplace, consumers are users of branded technology services. Moreover, as software application services have become ubiquitous and integrated into every aspect of consumers’ personal and social lives (Hoffman et al. 2004), an Information Technology service provider’s brand bears personal and social meaning for consumers (Dobni and Zinkhan 1990, Escalas and Bettman, 2005). Information Technology service innovation can potentially generate impacts on more direct business outcomes, i.e., brand equity and customer loyalty, than technology acceptance and use (e.g., Venkatesh et al. 2003, 2012), which has been the focus of much prior information systems (IS) research.
Loyalty is developed over a period of time from a consistent record of meeting, and sometimes even exceeding customer expectations (Teich, 1997). Kotler et al. (1999) states the cost of attracting a new customer may be five times the cost of keeping a current customer happy. Gremler & Brown (1996) offers one definition of customer loyalty that is related to our purpose in this study: the degree to which a customer exhibits repeat purchasing behavior from a service provider, possesses a positive attitudinal disposition toward the provider, and considers using only this provider when a need for this service exists.
The definition of customer loyalty has evolved from a behavioral definition—e.g., repeat-purchase behavior (Brown 1952) to more psychological ones based on either the attitude-behavior framework (e.g., Day 1969) or the cognition-affect-conation framework (e.g., Oliver 1997). Day (1969) composed a brand loyalty index based on both probability of purchase and brand attitude. Oliver (1997,) defined customer loyalty as “a deeply held commitment to rebuy or repatronize a preferred product or service consistently in the future, despite situational influences and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior.”
This conceptualization was further extended to include the act of “repetitive same-brand or same brand-set purchasing” (Oliver 1999). Four phases of customer loyalty have been identified, namely, cognitive loyalty, affective loyalty, conative loyalty and action loyalty (Oliver 1999). Cognitive loyalty is a consumer’s preference for one brand over its alternatives and is based on information about the attributes of a brand, such as performance and price. Affective loyalty is consumers’ liking or attitude toward the brand and is formed based on cumulatively satisfying usage experiences. Conative loyalty is a consumer’s desire or intention to repatronize the brand—i.e., loyalty intentions. Again, action loyalty is the conversion of loyalty intentions into action (e.g., repeat purchase) with a willingness to overcome obstacles that prevent the act.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
There is no contradiction to the fact that Nigeria today experiences a challenge in the development of effective software application that can prevent customer’s credit theft. Software application is laced with so many challenges that have handicapped the smooth operations of the banking industry. The major challenge of software application usage in the Banks is security. Without great confidence in security, customers are unwilling to use a public network, such as the Internet, to view their financial information online and conduct financial transactions. Some of the security threats include invasion of corporate and individuals’ privacy; and theft of confidential information.
Information technology has also brought unintended consequences such as criminal activities, spamming, credit card frauds, ATM frauds, phishing, identity theft and other related cybercrimes. Consequently, the above-listed problems lead to:
- Low level of usage of bank software for fear of being tracked by hackers.
- Perception of risks such as ATM, credit card fraud and others type of fraud which have negative impact on e-banking services.
The above statements constitute a major drawback in customer’s confidence in usage of software application thereby making this study a necessity. Hence, this study examines the impact of software into improving customer loyalty using “Access Bank” as a case study
Access Bank is a leading global investment bank with a strong and profitable private clients franchise. A leader in Nigeria and Europe, the Bank is continuously growing in North America, Asia and key emerging markets. With more than 78,000 employees in over 70 countries worldwide, Access Bank offers unparalleled financial services throughout the world. The Bank competes to be the leading global provider of financial solutions for demanding clients creating exceptional value for its shareholders and people.
Over the years, customers have demonstrated an unfettered loyalty towards Access Bank due to effective banking services that was enabled via modern software applications that makes life easier. This has further triggered an increase in customer retention and patronage for Access Bank.
Demonstration of customers’ loyalty towards Access Bank can be traced to convenience and flexible virtual banking system; real time access to information and flexible on-line bill payments that allows digital signature for security; faster transfer, process and user-friendly low transaction fees; and facility of fund transfer to third party.
An action-driven reporting solution for Access Bank resulted in an online dashboard containing the following characteristics: Online software applications for customers that allow easy transaction throughout the day and night; daily and automated data updates; Secured login procedure via personalized username & password; Multifunctional landing page containing general & background project info; Top level KPI results per touchpoint (e.g. general satisfaction) for all users; Time-evolution-based charts to follow up on actions; Listing of open comments on an individual level
The research’s major objective is to examine the impact of software on customer loyalty using a case study of Access Bank. Specifically, the following objectives will be achieved.
- To identify the effect of Access Bank software on service delivery to customers.
- To examine the extent Access Bank software application impacts on Customer trust.
- To find out the e-banking software used by Access Bank in improving customers loyalty.
- Find out the challenges encountered by customers in the process of using bank software application.
- Does Access Bank software have effect on service delivery to customers?
- To what extent will Access Bank software application impacts on Customer trust?
- How will e-banking software be used by Access Bank to improve customers’ loyalty?
- What are challenges encountered by customers in the process of using bank software application?
The following research hypothesis was buttressed for the study:
H0: E-banking Software application will not improve customers’ loyalty.
H1: E-banking Software application will improve customers’ loyalty.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of this study will be significant to the bank’s management in formulating better strategies to improve and advance software application that will aid good customer loyalty and also enhance customer relationship.
The study will also serve as eye-openers to the banks executives, the policy makers of the banks and financial institutions by motivating them to use effective software application that will increase customer loyalty. The research findings will be of significant to the German government in formulating policies for enhancing customer loyalty and performance of banks via better software development.
Using effective software application as a strategic tool will increase the opportunities of the banking sector and reduce threats in the business environment. This will provide a means through which banks can improve their performance, increase profitability and also increase their chances of survival. The study will motivate banks and other economic agents to computerize their services via the use of effective software application.
Finally, the study will contribute to the academic literature and knowledge of other researcher who wish to expand on the usage of better software that will boost customer loyalty and other variables as a criticism and as a point for further research to be undertaken in the field of discipline.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study examines the impact of software on customer loyalty with a view to explore Access Bank. And the study will be structured into five chapters. The study as perceived might face some logistic challenges in term of the time and the costs involved in carrying out the research, but nevertheless, it would strive to accomplish its aims and purpose.
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Application software: Application software is computer software designed to perform a group of coordinated functions, tasks, or activities for the benefit of the user.
Bank: An organization offering financial services, especially, the safe keeping and lending of money.
Customer Loyalty: Customer loyalty is a customer’s willingness to continue patronizing a particular organization due to previous positive customers’ service experience.
Customer Trust: Customer Trust is the firm believe in an organization that it will always perform as expected.
Customer: A person or company that regularly patronizes a particular bank.
E-banking: the use of computers to carry out banking transactions such as withdrawals through cash dispensers or transfer of funds at point of sale.
Information Technology (IT): This represents set of tools, processes, and methodologies and associated equipment employed to collect, process, and present information.
Service delivery: This is the act of providing the needs of customers or clients.
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