The management of the emotions of customers in the banking sector during the economic crisis has significantly influenced their level of commercial satisfaction and has had a direct impact on their level of trust and loyalty to the firm, according to a study conducted by researchers Marta Estrada, Diego Monferrer and Miguel Ángel Moliner of the IMK group at the Universitat Jaume I in Castellón.
The article «Improving relationship quality during the crisis», published in the Services Industries Journal, describes how the emotional management of customers, through emotional intelligence, has had an impact on the perception of the quality of banking service during the crisis period and offers a series of recommendations to respond to the new needs of customers.
One of the most original features of the research is the proposal of a model that, from a microeconomic level, integrates psychological variables such as emotional intelligence with more traditional relational market research elements such as satisfaction, trust and loyalty, which have been severely challenged in the context of the banking crisis. For this reason, the researchers point out, «effective strategies must be introduced that channel emotions and allow conflictive circumstances to be overcome».
The study advances research into the links between the customer and the company through a key component, emotional intelligence, confirmed by the fact that the results show that there is a close relationship between the customer’s emotional intelligence and the macro-construction of the quality of the relationship. This is why the research team recommends that «the corporate marketing strategy should be accompanied by careful attention to face-to-face service experiences».
One of its contributions is that it identifies the interrelationship between the three variables that make up the quality of the relationship (satisfaction, trust and loyalty) and finds that «satisfaction acts as an antecedent to trust, and both, in turn, lead to greater loyalty», the researchers explain. In this sense, they recommend «the design of scenarios and procedures that generate positive emotions in customers».
Regarding the sample, the study has gone further by examining the customer-branch relationship within the same bank. In doing so, the study has highlighted the role of the customer’s emotional experiences and the interactions that influence the strengthening of the relationship. Thus, the research findings show that «identifying, understanding and managing emotions plays a key role in developing the quality of relationships» and that «bank managers need to find new channels to foster emotional bonds with customers that lead to positive experiences».
The research findings add to those of other authors who suggest «the need to develop a new type of bank that is more emotional, less speculative, more social and more transparent». This would involve branches becoming places that encourage and facilitate more personal and lasting relationships, and even longer opening hours. «This new strategy – the research team concludes – based on a commitment to experiential and emotional marketing, will allow banks to be more connected to customers, to strengthen the relationship and to enhance service quality and excellence».
The data collection was conducted in the first quarter of 2016 at one of the top six Spanish banks, according to international rating agency Moody’s, which takes into account total assets. A total of 1,125 regular customers were interviewed at 225 branches in the provinces of Alicante, Castellón, Murcia and Valencia. Specifically, 540 women (48%) and 585 men (52%) with an average age of 47 years.
The sample covered 42.25% of all branch offices in the four provinces, and 59.2% of them had between two and five employees and the remaining 41.8% had more than five. 32.4% were in small towns, 14.8% in medium-sized locations, 13.8% were urban and 10.7% were for foreign customers.
Article: «Improving relationship quality during the crisis». Services Industries Journal. Estrada, M.; Monferrer, D.; and Moliner, M.A.