Customer experience as the strategic differentiator in retail banking
Thesis (PhD (Business Management))—University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
In 2008, retail banking in South Africa is a highly competitive industry with extensive customer bases that expect increasingly more from their banking experience. The retail bank with an appropriate strategic differentiator will gain a sustainable competitive advantage in the changing retail banking environment and add value to all its stakeholders. This study was conducted within the evolving retail banking industry and investigated customer experience as a possible strategic differentiator in this industry. The investigation included a literature study on the evolution of retail banking globally and in South Africa, the concepts strategy, differentiation and sustainable competitive advantage and customer experience. Quantitative and qualitative measurement frameworks were applied to measure the total customer experience and thereby illustrate through the research results the value of understanding the customer experience as differentiator in an organisation. The researcher determined through the investigation that customer experience can be a valuable strategic differentiator in retail banking today as it gives an organisation a competitive advantage through the focus on the total customer experience which includes the previous differentiators in the industry, namely product, price and service. The researcher also indicated that customer experience evolved over time and includes service quality and customer service from which it evolved. The implications of the study focus on management‟s role in developing a differentiated strategy which describes customer experience as the differentiator and implementing such a strategy implies a thorough understanding of customers and their experiences when interacting with the organisation and entrenching a customer experience culture and orientation in the organisation on all levels.