The relationship between corporate communication efforts, client communication satisfaction and –relationship satisfaction, and client economic contribution within a financial services organisation
After facing the economic recession, the South–African and global business sectors started revaluating their human capital and the positions they represent within an organisation. Each individual now had to prove that they contributed towards the organisation’s bottom line, as each and every cent had to be counted and accounted for. Some functions within organisations could easily prove their contribution towards the bottom line by providing production or sales outputs. The public relations practitioners and the corporate communication efforts they offered, however, faced a bleak future, as their contribution towards the tangible assets was very rarely recognised (Kim, 2000:276). The financial services sector however, in which an advisor’s contribution towards the organisational bottom line is easily quantified, started to acknowledge the need for this sector to improve upon its ‘softer’ intangible assets such as client communication and client relationships. The sector believes that communication establishes relationships, and sound client relationships is the only way to sell financial products and services, as people seldom entrust their life earnings or financial dreams to strangers (Christiansen & DeVaney, 1998:7). Public relations practitioners know how to use communication optimally in the quest for building client relationships, and financial services need those skills in order to sell their products and contribute towards the bottom line. These two functions could thus work together towards the achievement of their goals - public relations to prove their bottom line contribution, and the financial services sector towards improving client relationships. These statements led to the general Research Question of this study: “What is the nature of the relationship between (i) corporate communication efforts, (ii) client communication satisfaction and (iii) client relationship satisfaction, and these concepts’ relationship to (iv) client economic contribution, within a financial services organisation?” This Research Question is answered from the systems theory as meta–theory with the support of the strategic communication, excellence and relationship management theories, and Futurum Financial Group (FFG) services as the financial services organisation for this study. A qualitative and quantitative research approach was followed to establish the constructs, and the relationships between the constructs. The Financial Advisors and public relations practitioner in FFG have a good understanding of the need for strategic communication efforts, and a relationship between their efforts and the client communication satisfaction and client relationship satisfaction could therefore be indicated. A further relationship between the client communication satisfaction and client relationship satisfaction and the client economic contribution was also established. Recommendations to improve the situation within FFG included a better focus on database administration, corporate communication consistency, Financial Advisor diligence, and providing clients with more frequent updates regarding their financial situation. The greatest strengths were client–advisor trust and corporate communication professionalism. This study thus contributes to the argument that communication efforts add tangibly, by means of client economic contribution, to the organisation’s bottom line, within the financial services industry. The study furthermore provides some recommendations for the financial services industry to improve their communication skills in order to build client relationships.
- ETD@PUK 
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