Purpose: Bank customers’ perceptions of service quality and service image of Islamic banks may differ from those of conventional banks. The purpose of this paper is to examine the differing perceptions of customers of Islamic and conventional banking systems in an emerging market, which has rarely been addressed and adds to the body of knowledge on this topic. This study also re-examines the SERVQUAL model of customer banking services to measure their impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Design/methodology/approach: The study uses responses from a randomly drawn sample of 229 customers from conventional banks and 225 customers from Islamic banks operating in Bangladesh using a structured questionnaire. SPSS and structural equation modeling techniques were employed as statistical tools for data analysis. Findings: Overall, the examined service quality dimensions wield varying effects on client satisfaction mediated through the perceived image of banking services. Islamic bank customers’ perceptions of the level of reliability, responsiveness, security and reputation were significantly higher than those of conventional banks. Research limitations/implications: This study enhances our understanding of how Islamic banking practices differ from those of conventional banking in terms of service quality and image-related factors. More specifically, the findings of this research explain consumers’ perceived assessment of satisfaction and loyalty in a comparative research setting. Originality/value: No prior studies have addressed the impact of the individual service quality dimensions on image factors in the context of conventional and Islamic banking in an emerging market, Bangladesh.