1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
It is apparent that modern Nigeria cannot exist without the financial service industry. In the recent past, this study has experienced tremendous growth and undergone great changes. In the country, varying forms of deregulation, competition, more demanding customers and drive to exceed customer’s expectation have created an environment significantly different from that which existed long ago.
Udegha (1999:) observes that Nigerian banks are regarded as the most important custodians of the liquid asset of most Nigerian citizens, foreigners, groups, organization and government, they receive money in the form of deposits, transfers or payment from these individuals, social or economic units and government for safe keeping, transfer and so on and are obliged to make sure funds available to their clients on demand. Banks also provide loans to various groups, organizations, and government agencies. Although these functions of the Nigerian banking industry appear simple in outlook, they have very important social and economic ramifications like other banks world wide.
The discreet services used at one time or another include routine financial transaction, provisions of long term loans, insurance, investments and savings, to mention but a few. These services are provided by distinct sectors of the industry such as banking, insurance and brokers. They mobilize funds that would have otherwise laid idle by making what is entrusted to them available for productive purpose, thereby funds entrusted to them by the citizenry, banks provide needed security and peace of mind to the citizens (Shoroye, 1990;1).
At a time, the deregulation of financial services and consequent ready access to funds produced a new competitive environment. Both the commercial and merchant banks in the country then were competing with finance and mortgage houses, insurance companies and stockbrokers. The new competition brought about successes for some and spectacular failures for others. In the new millennium, banking has gone even beyond expectation, and for the surviving banks, competition has just began. According to Macdonald. “The financial service sector has not been immune from or ignored the quality of revolution. New products sought initial competition advantage, new attractive interest rate, strategies, automation, electronics banking, quicker turnaround time, all in the bid to attract more customers to them, but were step by step rapidly marked by competition.
Udeaha (1999:2) contended further that before 1986, banks were forced with little or no challenges. The issue of proper bank management did not receive enough attention resulting in arm chair banking. Today, the situation is different as competition in the banking industry in growing fast. The competition was occasioned by the structural adjustment programme, which pared way for the licensing of more banks. The competition in the industry heightens banks no longer feel safe to play arm chair role to their customers, as was the case before. In the early 1990’s there was a sea of change in the industry that sent many chief executives of the industry back to the drawing board to find new ways to compete. At the time, the tope management of the industry learned the fundamental lesson that customers were willing to pay a price premium for products and services that consistently met high standard of quality. Customers now perceive that they have the right to demand good service, since they pay for it. As the service industries are selling promise, all the customer want is that the promise is kept.
The successful banks were those that change their processes and empowered their staff through total quality management principles and techniques. The top management of the banking industry also learnt the good quality of services rendered to customers has been an important part of operating practices that successful business demand excellent service from all employees and excellent service imply customer delight with the courtesy, responsiveness, product knowledge, integrity, honesty and trust demonstrated by the staff.
Akpeyi (1996:10) observes that successful financial service industry especially the new generation banks have responded to increased international competition by striving harder to improved quality. This has increased the forces on service quality as a differentiator between competitive product and service as well as price and design, many organizations have recognized this trend and have increased their company’s commitment to high services quality in order to compete successfully and service.
The emergence of the “new generation” bank/bankers. That had to open even on Saturday, and go the extra mile. If it would attract “the customer”. Crosby (1989) observes with total commitment to customer service, a new style of management is required in the banking skills and recruiting knowledgeable people at all levels throughout the organization. Also, it should be a style based on clear standards. It is worth to understand that customer service is much more than being nice to those who patronize the organization. It is primarily about satisfying their legitimate needs in a manner, which is effortless on their part. It requires people to interact more efficiently.
According to Akpeyi (1996:16) in the bid to improve the quality of service delivery and to maintain their own share of the market; banks must embark on aggressive strategies of improving on its services, which can be achieved by adopting the concept of total quality management (TQM) in banking industry. The concept integrates basic management techniques and is directed towards increased customers satisfaction, company’s survival and success in the business.
The quality initiatives in the banking industry in Nigeria, fall short of the following greater objectives of TQM as: