Dissertation chapter 1 sample

Factors influencing customer loyalty in the online health-care service firm: taking the haodf.com as the example

1.0 Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Background

With advancement with technology, which has been couple easier access to internet, the healthcare industry in China has witnessed a tremendous growth. Precisely, the emergence of online health-care services firms has to a considerable extent changed the conventional methods of seeking medical care. According to Narang and Trivedi (2016), while internet hospitals cannot replace the traditional bricks hospital completely, they have significantly made it easier for many patients to access healthcare services at the comfort of their houses.  This is because the patients can go through the whole process from online appointment, video consultation, diagnosis, prescription, online payment to home delivery of medicine. Taking this into consideration, the demand for online healthcare services has witnessed a tremendous growth over the past few years. In response to this demand, many firms have been established for the purpose of offering a wide range of online healthcare services to the customers. Some of the most renowned firms include Sunnymun, Guahao, and Haodf.  With increasing competition in the industry, most of the firms in the online health care industry in China are now looking for ways of attracting customers.  This has been primarily for the purpose of getting a competitive edge in the industry. As explained by Ganguli and Roy (2011), achieving customer loyalty in the online healthcare industry is challenging to a considerable extent.  This is because the issue of trust is usually prevalent among various online health care platforms. Nevertheless, as put across by Kim (2011), continuous customer satisfaction has been linked with high levels of customer loyalty among most of the firms in the online health-care industry. One of the firms in the industry that has been in the front online in garnering customer loyalty is the haodf.com.

Established in 2006, Haodf.com is a Chinese owned company that operates a healthcare community platform. In light of this, the company offers a wide range of medical sites, hospitals, as well as information which help patients in finding doctors.  Initially, Haodf.com was focusing on providing the Chinese patients with wide range reference information. In fact, the Haodf.com founded the first-internet based enquiry system having real-time updates as well as outpatient information.  Nonetheless, with several years of substantial development, Haodf.com has become the largest online medical platform in China.  This has been attributed largely by the commitment that the company has showed in ensuring customer satisfaction. On this, most patients of the site are usually able to get connected the best doctors, which has made it possible for them to have their needs solved amicably. It is through such delivery of services that Haodf.com has been in a position of attracting as well as retaining customers. Therefore, the use of Haodf.com in this study is feasible when it comes to understanding the various factors that influence customer loyalty in  the online healthcare service industry.

1.2 Research rationale

A wide range of research regarding the factors that influence customer loyalty in the healthcare industry has been conducted. Nonetheless, most of these studies have primarily focused on the convectional hospitals. This has been due to the fact that online healthcare services is a relatively new concept in China, implies that there is limited research on the topic.  Additionally, the limited studies on online healthcare services industry have focused on other countries including such as the United States as well as Unite Kingdom. Taking this into consideration, this research seeks to fill this gap through examining the various factors that influence customer loyalty in the online healthcare service industry in China.  This will bring insights on the overall online healthcare service industry in China as well as the various factors that contribute to customer loyalty.

1.3 Research aim and objectives

The aim of this research is to explore the various factors influencing customer loyalty in the online health-care service firm, using haodf.com as the case. Accordingly, Oliver (2014) observed that customer loyalty is related to both aspects of positive attitude and behavioural tendencies that results to higher customer commitment to a certain product provided by a given company and resulting to repeated purchases and increased customer satisfaction levels. The satisfaction level is largely dependent on various factors. These are user interface, responsiveness, need fulfilment, and security. As regards to user interface, Papista and Dimitriadis (2012) has indicated that informational retrieval, interface usability, ease of navigation, overall website, user guidance, interface design, and site aesthetics play an integral role in consumers when making decisions.  When it comes to responsiveness, Liu, Guo and Lee (2011) have asserted that customers are more likely to be satisfied with fast response online services than those that take longer time to respond to their questions or problems. In relation to need fulfilment, xx has indicated that  the ability to address a customer, and capability of gathering and remembering the customer’s response play a huge role in luring them to remain loyal to online services provided by specific sellers. Lastly, in regards to security, Wu et al. (2014) have highlighted that the ability to keep customers’ information safe from invasion affects satisfaction and trust, which are closely related to customer loyalty. Taking the above information into consideration, this research seeks to focus on the following three objectives in an attempt to achieve the research aim.

(1) To study customer satisfaction with haodf.com

(2) To explore the factors that could influence customer loyalty of www.haodf.com

(3) To provide haodf.com with some suggestions on improving customer loyalty


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