The Influence of Interpersonal Communication on Relationship Management in Banks in South-East Nigeria



Today’s global market is characterized by numerous changes like the 2008 global economic crisis that led to the exit of many banks across the world, cut-throat competition and customers’ changing demands among others, causing organizations to rethink and remodel business strategies to ensure competitive advantage. Relationship management, a PR tool has been identified as one of the new business strategies employed by organizations for building sustainable relationships with their various publics. The Excellence Theory of public relations which provides the theoretical background for this study explains that an organization can only be deemed to have attained organizational effectiveness when it is able to establish a sustainable relationship between the organization and the various publics on whom its success or failure depends. What the excellence theory advocates is now popularly referred to as relationship management.  A major concern for public relations practitioners therefore has been how to develop and maintain long lasting relationships between organizations and their different publics.The overall purpose of this study therefore, was to investigate the extent to which interpersonal communication influences relationship management in Nigerian banks and the realization of their organizational objectives. The study adopted the use of both qualitative (in-depth interview) and quantitative (survey) approaches. The questionnaire and in-depth interview schedule were the instruments for data collection. The questionnaires were administered to 400 customers drawn from 15 selected banks in South Eastern Nigeria. An in-depth interview was also conducted among 15 selected employees of these banks. The employees were senior officers who interfaced daily with customers, like branch service or operation managers, relationship managers, and heads of customer service.  Quantitative data generated as well as formulated hypotheses were tested using  Pearson’s correlation analysis and chi square, while qualitative data was analyzed using thematic analysis. These were done with the aid of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and NVIVO. The study established that relationship between banks and their customers is still interpersonal, even in this era of mediated computer and internet banking services, and that interpersonal communication dominates as the most preferred and most popular communication strategy in these banks. Finally, the study demonstrated that interpersonal communication is still very relevant in building and maintenance of sustainable relationships between banks and their customers, and that social media has not after all displaced, but rather complements it. This suggests that this study has answered the excellent question - ‘how, why and to what extent does communication, and in the context of this study, interpersonal communication in the Nigerian banking environment, contribute to the achievement of organizational objectives?’

DOI: 10.7176/IAGS/75-04

Publication date: August 31st 2019

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ISSN (Paper)2224-574X ISSN (Online)2224-8951

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