Managing the Brand Through Advocacy and Its Influences: A Study in the Hospital as Healthcare Provider
10 Pages Posted: 9 May 2016
Date Written: April 30, 2016
Improving human lives through a better health condition has been considered as the main subject for human development. Human life expectancy is getting higher due to the development of healthcare in science, technology and industry. The fast growing of healthcare sector, especially private hospital industry in Indonesia has been giving the consequence on more options to the customers to obtain the healthcare services. Therefore, the private hospitals are challenged to have some competitive advantages as well as effective marketing strategy. Hospital branding by executing brand advocacy is one of the choice for hospital marketing strategy. The hospital choice based on other patients’ preference play its role in the good healthcare service experience for a better health condition.
The study examines the effect of brand attitude, perceived quality, brand reputation, and customer-oriented behavior on brand trust, and then to analyze the effect of brand trust on self-brand connection and brand advocacy, also the effect of self-brand connection on brand advocacy. The study uses a survey method with a sample size of 184 respondents, drawn from the customers of branded, B class, private hospitals in Tangerang, Banten province, Indonesia. Methods of the data analysis in this study are SEM (Structural Equation Model) which used to test the hypothesis.
The result showed the two variables of four which are brand reputation and customer-oriented behavior have a significant and positive effect on brand trust, while the other two variables which are brand attitude and perceived quality has no significant effect on brand trust. The effect of brand reputation is stronger than the effect of customer-oriented behavior on brand trust. Brand attitude has no significant effect on brand trust in this study because the frequency of service experience is still low. Higher frequency of hospital visit seems giving more brand trust to the respondents. No significant effect also happen to perceived quality on brand trust in this study is suspected due to the respondents spend their healthcare expenses by their out-of-pocket-money than other resources like insurance. This condition causes a higher expectation to the service quality provided by the hospital.
Furthermore, brand trust itself and self-brand connection have a significant and positive effect on brand advocacy. The effect of brand trust on self-brand connection unveil as the strongest effect in this model, and followed by the direct effect of brand trust on brand advocacy as the second strongest one. The dominant indicator reveals from brand trust is the trust that customers receive from health professional at the hospital. In addition, the study also revealed brand trust has a significant and positive effect on brand advocacy directly as well as indirectly mediated by self-brand connection even the indirect effect is smaller than its direct effect.
The hospital managers are expected to be able to cultivate brand advocacy through positive word of mouth by building brand trust, mainly, and the customers’ self-brand connection to the hospital. Trust to the hospital brand itself is driven by the brand reputation and customer-oriented behavior of the hospital. Positive word of mouth about the healthcare services is spread by the advocates who are the satisfied previous customers, their family and friends having a good overall perception about the hospital. A good hospital reputation is constructed by a good service standard consistently for both functional service and medical service. Service standard has to focus on the customers’ interest so it is aiming for error reduced as well as patient safety. Even the hospital attains more customers, the service level is never under normal variation. Customer-oriented behavior of medical and non-medical staff is implemented by paying attention to every service contact point to the customers. Having detailed management on every service contact point will reduce the risk of customers’ disappointment and build brand trust. A hospital manager has to realize that the non-medical services are as much important as the core medical services, also giving the attention almost equally to the patients and their family and friends. Furthermore, self-brand connection is formed by conducting emotional bounding which comes from good service experiences in the past. Many hospitals only focus on the new customers without paying enough attention to the past customers or even loyal customers. Hospital has to be able to manage a customer-based data, and then facilitate a periodic gathering event or even one group community where the loyal customers become the advocates and sharing their past experiences in the hospital. The prospective customers will get a trusted testimonial while the past customers will be updated by full information on the current services. The hospital managers are challenged to create and maintain good memorable service experiences for continuous branding as well as sustainable good performances of healthcare providers and its role for higher life expectancy.
Keywords: brand advocacy, brand trust, hospital branding, Indonesian healthcare sector, SEM (Structural Equation Model)
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