Date of Award

7-2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Corporate and Organizational Management

Department

College of Business and Management

First Advisor

Joan Scialli

Second Advisor

Ralph J. Norcio

Third Advisor

Laura K. Hart

Abstract

Using emotional intelligence of service providers in the service industry has increasingly been considered as a strategy to satisfy and retain customers (Lynn, 2004). However, the research in this area is scant. This study is the fist to examine and explore the relationship between service quality emphasizing empathy as emotional intelligence competence and customer retention in a commercial bank in Bangkok, Thailand.

The specific purposes of this explanatory quantitative study were (a) to describe banking customers of the specific commercial bank headquarters in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, their perceptions of service quality of service providers, and customer retention (behavioral intentions of customers to do business and length of time as a banking customer of the specific commercial bank headquarters), (b) to examine the relationships between socio-demographic characteristics, their perceptions of service provider empathy compared with other service quality dimensions and customer retention (behavioral intentions of customers and length of time as a banking customer of the specific commercial bank headquarters), (c) to examine the influence of customer socio-demographic characteristics and customer perceptions of service provider empathy compared with other service quality dimensions, in explaining customer retention, at the specific bank headquarters (behavioral intentions of customers and length of time as a banking customer of the specific commercial bank headquarters), and (d) to generate implications for emotional intelligence training in customer retention strategies in the specific commercial bank.

In this research, service quality was measured by the banking customers' perceptions of service quality of service providers using five dimensions of the SERVQUAL (tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy). Retention of customers was measured by banking customers' behavioral intentions using the 9-item and 12-item Modified Behavioral Intentions Battery and length of time banking at the Headquarters bank. Four-hundred respondents participated in data collection. Using systematic sampling, they were approached to complete the survey questionnaire at the entrance located outside the specific commercial bank headquarters. Findings indicated that empathy of service providers, an emotional intelligence factor, was a significant explanatory variable of customer retention. However, the relationship was inverse: the lower the empathic skills of service providers, the more favorable the behavioral intentions of customers to do business with the bank, and in this case this was a significant explanatory variable. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

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