Brokers must wield social media sword

by Adam Smith15 Mar 2012

Brokers must use social media “as a sword” to create client advocacy in a world in which most customers want to interact digitally.

Lisa Claes, ING Direct executive director of distribution, has told the Mortgage Innovation Forum in Sydney that brokers must harness new forms of communication as client preferences change. Claes said social media can either be used as a weapon against companies or a weapon in their favour.
“Use social media as a sword for yourself. Be the blogger, not the blog-ee,” she said.

Claes pointed out the emergence of viral customer advocacy, referring to customer stoushes which have seen companies like Vodafone lose clients over viral campaigns. Rather than fear this kind of backlash, Claes said mortgage brokers should use social media communication to their advantage.

“You do have regulatory constraints, but there's a lot you can say legally to be able to create noise about your value proposition. You have to add value in such a way that customers become your advocates so that you can ride on a wave of viral nature. A lot of providers just assume that customers like to have a face-to-face visit,” she said.

As Gen X and Gen Y increasingly enter the housing market, Claes argued that the way brokers communicate must change. And the way brokers communicate with clients, she said, must ultimately be dictated by the client.

“Without any doubt, there's a growing preference that the customers of today and tomorrow want to interact digitally. You have to be multi-channel within your channel, whether it's Skype, email, web-chat or telephone; you need to have those services available,” Claes said.

Claes assured brokers that their service proposition remained relevant to clients, and said only the delivery method needed to be altered.

“The what and the why haven't changed. What's changed is the how, so brokers need only focus on the how. It's how you deliver and promote your service to customers,” she said.

Brokers should not fear this change, Claes argued. While the way clients communicate may be changing, Claes said the service proposition offered by mortgage brokers is well-suited to new generations of homebuyers.

“The good news for brokers is that relationships are in and anonymity is out,” she said.

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