Customer delight as an antecedent of customer loyalty in the South African banking industry
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Simply delivering customers’ expected level of service results in waning customer perceptions of service quality and perceived value in any service industry. Favourable customer perceptions are gained through exceptional service delivery comprising of a high quality of service that represents exceptional value for customers. This is the view of researchers that embrace the notion that simply satisfying customers by delivering expected services is no assurance of customer loyalty, and therefore advocate that banks should strive to exceed the customer’s expectations to reach higher levels of customer satisfaction, known as customer delight. The primary objective of this study was to explore customer delight as an antecedent of customer loyalty within the South African banking industry. The literature review comprehensively explored customer delight within the services context, as well as the various antecedents of customer loyalty, and a conceptual model was formulated. The conceptual model was built upon stated hypotheses based on the findings from the literature. A total of 400 respondents with access to any of the South African banks were used in this study. The statistical analysis used in this study included descriptive statistics, frequency tables, cross-tabulations, ANOVA comparison of means, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), and partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). The research findings revealed that, as expected, the dimensions of service quality, namely, responsiveness, and assurance, positively affected customer satisfaction. Contrary to the literary findings, empathy failed to have a significant effect on customer satisfaction, but did, however, have a significant effect on customer delight as hypothesised. Regarding perceived value, all the dimensions, namely functional, monetary, and emotional value, had a positive effect on customer satisfaction, and emotional value significantly affected customer delight as was hypothesised. vi | P a g e As expected, customer delight had a positive effect on overall customer loyalty, accepting the hypothesised positive relationship between the two. The most significant finding was the very strong effect customer delight had on attitudinal loyalty. Based on the findings from the empirical analysis, this study recommends that banks intensify their efforts of creating satisfied customers, and aim to achieve heightened levels of customer satisfaction known as customer delight. Rather than meeting customer expectations, banks should consider implementing official measures that aim at exceeding customer expectations. Exceeding customers’ expectations speaks to their emotions, and has longer-lasting positive effects than when customers’ basic expectations are met.