Service Quality and Customer’s Loyalty in Nigeria

I think it is very amazing to see that for the very first time in almost a decade, the relationship between service quality and customer loyalty in all sectors in Nigeria is growing rapidly. It should be well stated that it is not only the banks and the retail stores or consultants that should exhibit service quality and customer loyalty. Every individual should be able to deploy reliability, tangibility, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. I mean how many times do you go out for a full day and you get back home with the smile on your face just because you were treated right at every where you went to, regardless of if you spent more money or no money at all for me, i think its something to be proud off especially in Nigeria and Africa at large. Hence, this article is guided by the objective of examining the relationships between service quality and customer quality of our health sector (including both public hospitals and private hospitals) in Nigeria.

Service Quality and Customer's Loyalty in Nigeria

Today, the health care industry has identified service quality as a key factor that distinguishes each medical firm from another, but honestly i do not see that in the implementation, execution and maintenance of activities that go on in our various public hospitals and private ones too. It just seems as if no one values human lives anymore and emphasis are placed on you if you’ve got the funds to pay up for their services, which of course should naturally come from a perspective of caring for people as well as to boost their morale( this includes the workers be it doctors, nurses, assistant staffs, cleaners, everyone in fact) and improve their service delivery to the masses.

Unlike in the early days when hospitals were judged by only the medical services they provided, they are now also considered based on other indicators of the quality of the service they give such as person-person service, courteous attitude, caring and friendly staff etc.

Hospitals are traditionally known as places where people (patients) go to receive products (treatments of injured, child bath, diagnosis of illnesses and sickness, medical consultations and so on) for the purpose of maintaining healthy living. Hence, the measuring of the quality of services rendered by hospitals has become very important in ensuring patient care and maintaining brand reputation which also boils down to sustaining community well-being. It is however, good to know that technology has increased the level approaches and methods adopted to render these healthcare services at ease and more accurately than ever. Arguably, the core objective of every hospital should be to save life but in a country like Nigeria that is not the case as it seems like “no funds you die” to be honest that is utterly ridiculous. I do know that lots of effort has been made to improve the standard of living including effective medical service delivery but the mark of the so called “developing nation” is still present thus, there are still a lot of shortcomings in terms of the quality of services rendered by hospitals especially remote rural areas within the states. So examining the level at which these services are been delivered should become mandatory to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.

service quality and customer loyalty

The major problem faced by any service provider in general and healthcare in particular is the extent to which their service agrees with what patients or customers expect. We can’t wait for an X,Y- Z development in our country Nigeria before we start looking into improving our environment.

Looking at service quality as the outcome of an evaluation process where the consumer compares his/her expectations with the service that has been provided by the service provider. Service quality focuses on understanding how customers perceive the quality of a service. The model compares what consumers feel the service firm should offer and their perceptions of the performance of the actual service delivered.

Overtime, a lot of research has been done in order to measure service quality of hospitals with lots of models, dimensions and variables. Four dimensions were used to measure the quality of services rendered by health care firms and they include curing, caring, access, and physical environment. For others ten dimensions which included accessibility, understanding, courtesy, reliability, security, credibility, responsiveness, communication, and competence. Also inter-personal quality, technical quality, environment quality, and administrative quality are all part of the process that can be used. Still service quality should be measured using empathy, giving priority to the inpatients needs, staff to patients relationships, professionalism of staff, food, and the physical environment.

You know i’ve been in a real life situation where by i had a very serious health issue and i only got 6 hours to still be on this earth just as i was told by the doctors going in before surgery, now thinking back in my mind what if i ain’t got that funds to pay up, i mean i would have been dead by now and no one will be reading this. But for a fact i can tell you that there are amazing individuals who deploy :

  • Service quality > Tangibility > Reliability > Responsiveness > Assurance > Empathy  in order to carry out their jobs in all aspect of life itself which all leads to customer loyalty totally 100%

Having that in Nigeria has been the biggest blessing to a lot people and my self included and i do wish we improve and maintain the culture in order to move forward and live better. Below are some little explanations about the key models that lead to customer loyalty.

  • Empathy:  It is highly noted that empathy of service providers have attracted studies which also agreed that this model has higher impact on the satisfactions customers derive from receiving the services. Empathy is a crucial aspect of service quality as employee’s ability to understand customers and their problems is key success factors for the service industry. It represents caring and individualized attention to customers.
  • Reliability: This means the ability to execute promised service dependably and accurately. Service firms like the hotels and hospitals always promise customers or patients a high level of comfort during their stay therein; so the capacity to fulfill the pledge constitute how reliable the firms are.
  • Tangibility:  Tangibility encompasses the physical appearance of the environment where the service will be rendered. These includes physical facilities, equipments, appearance of personnel, and communication materials.
  • Responsiveness:  This refers to the willingness of healthcare provider to provide quick service to their patients. The responsiveness of any service firms indicates that they posses a customer-first service culture and interconnected team to provide what customers need.
  • Assurance:  Assurance is the ability of an organization or a service firm to gain customer’s trust and confidence in the firm through knowledge, politeness and trustworthiness of the employees. Clients like patients of a particular medical firm will evaluate assurance based on how the doctors, nurses and other staffs handle their cases including how to treat their sickness or injuries. Assurance has the highest influence on customer satisfaction in firms. That is assurance created via knowledge of the job and on the job leads to increase in the satisfactions consumers get after service delivery and service encounter.
  • Customer Loyalty:  This is a deeply held commitment to re-buy or re-patronize a preferred product or service consistently in the future, despite situational influences and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior because, loyalty is connected to the performance of services in an organization.

Recommendations and Conclusion

  1. Public hospitals should invest more on ensuring consistency of their services thereby improving service reliability.
  2. Employees of both public and private hospitals especially doctors and nurses and in fact the whole staffs down to the bottom chain should care for patients as well so as to boost their morale and improve service delivery to the masses regardless of personal real life problems.
  3. Dear Government, can we at least have the employment and utilization of male nurses even at least to aid in the carrying and movement of patients into the hospitals, from wards or other engagements because (It’s just fucked up to go to the hospitals and see a patient who just went through surgery and is being carried out of the ward by the doctors who have been exhausted from saving a life and the nurses and even down to family members like what’s going on here !!!!)
  4. Government should increase the budget on health and ensure they follow up on expenditures and they maintain and are maximized in the area of providing basic tools needed in the hospitals at large.

To conclude other sectors in Nigeria and Africa should employ the model of proper service quality and customer’s loyalty in all they do. while companies in the transportation sector in Nigeria I.e (GIG logistics) who treat their customers with high disregard should improve better or risk going down the drain as regards to rating in that sector.

Chinedu Okeke

Chinedu is the founder of Nigerian Tech. He is a tech enthusiast who has the passion for emerging trends in the tech industry. He is also a professional web content developer.

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