Keywords: relationship banking, local banks, financial crisis.
It is widely believed that the recent international financial crisis has
changed the bank customer preferences and behaviors leading to a generalized
loss of confidence in the banking system.
The aim of this study is to verify whether or not there has been a
real loss of confidence in banks' customers and if bank workers perceived
this phenomenon. In particular, in order to investigate the perception
of the banking industry, we have choose to focus our research
on local banks, which are characterized by proximity to the territory
and a close relationship with their customers.
Because of the close interdependence with the social and economic
communities in which it is established, the local bank is expected to
more easily perceive any change in customer behavior. The impact of
the crisis on bank customer relationship is examined through the analysis
of the literature. The perception of the banks by the crisis impact
on their client relationships is investigated by interviewing a sample of
some employees of local banks operating in Italy.
The work concludes with an analysis of possible competitive levers activated
by local banks to consolidate the relationship with its customers.
The research results indicate that there was a change in bank-customer
relationship as a consequence of the crisis and that this change
was perceived by banks employees.