Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine whether switching barriers in the retail banking industry affect different age groups differently. Design/methodology/approach – Questionnaires were administered to 188 bank customers of different age groups, measuring their perception of variables related to relational benefits, switching costs, availability and attractiveness of alternatives, service recovery and retention. Findings – Results from independent two‐sample t ‐tests and logistic regression support all five hypotheses, confirming that young and older bank customers differ significantly in their perception of switching barriers: relational benefits, switching costs, availability and attractiveness of alternatives, service recovery and the duration of time they intend to end their relationship with their banks. Research limitations/implications – This study was conducted among employees of two higher education institutions. Thus, further research needs to test the research results in a diverse population. Practical implications – Since younger customers are more likely to change their banks easily, if retail banks want to retain younger customers they need to offer more meaningful incentives to younger customers than they offer to older customers. In terms of practice the findings in this research highlight the need for managers to design different switching barrier packages for each customer age group. Originality/value – Researchers in the past have found a close association between customer age and bank product usage and have shown that switching barriers play an important role in binding the customer to the service organization. However this research not only validates the switching barrier variables that affect different age groups differently but also elevates the role of age in banks switching barrier design.
Journal of Services Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 2, 2011
Keywords: Service industry; Switching barriers; Retail banking; Segmentation; Consumer behaviour; Age groups; United States of America