1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nigerian banks in the face of increasing competition are currently facing enormous challenges which have made survival increasingly difficult. To survive and be successful providers of financial services, it is extremely important that the present environment should go with a new management order which will offer the customer satisfaction and make better business performance. It is evident that today customers have increasingly become so enlightened and aware of their importance that ignoring them in search for competitive advantage can be suicidal for banks. Therefore, banks must brace up to the challenges in a bid to provide an effective customer service.
Banking operations in Nigeria started in 1892 when African Banking Corporation opened its first branch in Lagos to finance the shipping business of Elder Dumpster and Company which was operating steamship services between Liverpool and the West African coast. The Bank of British West Africa took over the activities of the African Banking Corporation in 1893 (now First Bank of Nigeria Plc). In 1917, Barclays Bank (now Union Bank of Nigeria Plc) was established. Shortly year, many more Banks were established; some of which are the British and French Bank (now United Bank for Africa Plc) established in 1949, the Industrial and Commercial Bank established in 1929, National Bank of Nigeria Plc established in 1933, the Agbonmagbe Ban (now Wema Bank) established in 1945, Nigeria Penny Bank established in 1940, Nigeria Farmer and Co-operative Bank Plc established in 1947 and so on. (Okoh, S. E. and Unugbro, A. O. 2003).
The 1930’s and 1940’s witnessed some bank failures which led to the setting up of the Patron’s Commission of 1948 which formed the bedrock of the Banking Ordinance of 1952. Even since then, commercial banks dominated the financial system and constituted the largest group in the financial sector. On the attainment of independence in 1960, there were twelve (12) banks with a total of 160 offices. There was a rapid growth in the 70’s and by 1977, there were 19 banks with 492 branches. By 1987, the number of commercial banks had grown to 48 with 1714 branches. (Nwankwo, 1991).
Since independence banking industry has grown tremendously and serves the greater proportion of the general public. With the liberalization of bank license in 1980, a more competitive environment and efficiency in the banking system was promoted. The federal government budget of 1986 which introduced economic recovery was subsequently articulated into the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was a deliberate response to distortion which has been prevalent in the Nigerian economy since the “oil boom” of the 70’s. The reform process of this programme led to the introduction of measure and instruments to deregulate the practice of banking. With this, new banking techniques and range of products offered to enhance economics efficiency and effective resources allocation introduced through service driven competition resulted in product introduction and adoption. With regard to the above development, individual banks have to carve a niche themselves and decide the kind of customer, prices of their product/services appropriating as well as promote such services in various ways that the target will be aware of what is in offer. This concept of customer service must be given priority since the era of arm chair banking is over (Anyafo, 1998).
1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The researcher seeks to achieve the following objectives in the cause of carrying out the study on the factors influencing customer’s loyalty in the banking industry.
i. To find out and examine those factors that will influence customer loyalty in the banking industry.
ii. To determine the types of customer that patronizes the banks.
iii. To find out the location of bank branch in Benin.
iv. To determine how the locations affects the customers patronage.
v. To determine the various products and services offered by the banks in Nigeria.
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The relevance of the customer in every business organization cannot be overemphasized having known that the customer is the lifeblood of every business survival. The researcher wishes to look into the following problems:
i. The problem of effective customer services in the banking industry.
ii. The problem encountered by bankers in determining the needs and wants of a customer.
iii. The problem of methods adopted by banks in meeting the individual needs of their customers.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study was carried out within the Benin-Banking environment with specific inference to Union Bank Plc, First Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and Oceanic Bank Plc. The above mentioned banks represent two old generation banks and two new generation banks in the banking industry.
1.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
It is pertinent to note that the quality of the project work is subject to knowledge disseminated by the textbooks, journals and other printed materials on the subject matter used during the research period. Any shortcoming that may arise in this research project is as a result of factors beyond the researcher such as the limited time and the extent to which the information is obtained.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study are as follows:
i. To provide effective customer services to the banking public.
ii. To enhance economic efficiency and effective resource allocation in the Nigeria banking industry.
iii. To increase effects towards positive customer loyalty in the banking industry.