South African bank loyalty during Covid-19 times

Prof Chantal Rootman

Volume 18 | Issue 2 pp. 54-73


The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way firms and consumers operate. It is crucial to investigate how customer loyalty changed in the banking industry when clients had to use e-banking methods for transactions during periods of lockdown. The purpose of the study is to establish how the pandemic influenced relationship marketing (RM) aspects and consequently customer loyalty in the South African banking industry, to increase loyalty levels in this competitive industry. This study attempts to address a research gap in the subject-area of customer loyalty during times of uncertainty, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, by considering the selected RM aspects related to customer loyalty. Thus, the primary objective of this study is to investigate customer loyalty in the South African banking industry since Covid-19. Following an empirical investigation, 203 banking clients formed a convenience sample by answering a self-administered closed-ended questionnaire. Data was analysed by means of quantitative procedures. The main results of this study reveal that three RM aspects, namely reputation, safety regulations (linked to Covid-19 protocols) and information safety, positively lead to customer loyalty among banking clients during Covid-19 times. The study recommends practical strategies to banks, concerning reputation, safety in terms of Covid-19 regulations as well as information security, to improve the significant RM aspects in order to increase customer loyalty. Following implementation, this could ensure mutual bank-client benefits and ultimately contribute to the South African economy. Furthermore, the study adds to the body of literature on RM by revealing that in addition to well-established RM aspects such as customer satisfaction, other aspects related to bank-client relationships are also pertinent to increase customer loyalty during uncertain times. These aspects relate to a particular situation and could be regarded as contextual RM aspects. One example of such an aspect, proven to be relevant to this study, is Covid-19 safety regulations.

Keywords: customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, relationship marketing, reputation, safety, trust

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