Brokers are being called on to review and verify their online profiles on a new website that is set to launch, which will enable broker customers to review their broker experience.
The “independent” review website Brokermatch.com.au – developed by Sarah Barnett, a former consultant with a speciality in behavioural analytics – aims to bring all reviews of brokers into one place.
It intends to collate “verified” reviews for all mortgage brokers in Australia via the online website.
The site, which has already been pre-populated with the names of thousands of mortgage brokers, is set to launch via a mass marketing campaign in late June.
It aims to benefit both consumers and brokers by providing “honest” reviews of brokers (which can be verified by the brokers being reviewed) – whether positive or negative.
How it works
Brokermatch relies on users logging in with their social media credentials or directly via the site using their real name (reviews can be published under an alias but users are required to use their real name for verification purposes).
Consumers then write a review and leave the broker stars rating (out of five stars) across four factors: expertise, empathy, effort and ethics. These four factors were chosen as they are “within a broker’s control”, unlike approval times, for example.
Brokers are now being called on to register to the site, verify their online profiles and provide further contact details and biographical information. This will also enable them to gain access to an individual dashboard to respond to and verify reviews and monitor the performance of their profile.
A consumer-facing mass marketing campaign for the site will begin in earnest from late June.
Why it is being launched
Speaking to The Adviser, Ms Barnett said that the idea to create the website came after learning that brokers rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals to survive and recognising that more needed to be done to showcase the good consumer outcomes that brokers provide.
She explained: “The broking industry has been on my radar for some time through my consulting work with the big banks, in which I used to help banks sell more to customers. Seeing how the royal commission unfolded and that brokers were really the fall guys, I just found so saddening.
“I thought the treatment of brokers under the royal commission was so incredibly unfair, but it was amazing to see how the industry rallied.
“I’m a big fan of choice and I can see a real opportunity to bring the broking industry into the fore. This website allows those really great brokers to shine, whatever aggregator they are with,” she said.
Ms Barnett said that as more and more customers research online before making a buying decision, having an online site that could collate reviews from broker customers would help build on the power of word-of-mouth referrals.
She added that it would also enable potential broker clients to find a broker that suits them after reading the reviews from their former customers.
According to Ms Barnett, an independent review site that allowed brokers to verify and respond to reviews from customers could therefore help them expand their reach and build their brand.
Noting that brokers may receive negative reviews on the site, she added that “research shows that if a person has written thoughtful, genuine and considered response to a negative review, it goes a really long way towards negating that”.
While she acknowledged that launching the site with “just about all brokers” in Australia may “raise a few eyebrows”, she said the site has to “stay true to its customer-centric ethos and [so] decided early on that listing all brokers was the only way to create a meaningful point-of-difference”.
She explained: “At the moment, many reviews online are unverified, so it can be a bit of a free for all. This will be a review written by someone who is verified, so we need to be able to identify them so that we can then liaise with their broker if there is a question of authenticity.
“We have both automated and manual processes in place to make sure that we don’t become the TripAdvisor or Google Reviews for brokers… We want it to be verifiable and trusted. Brokers themselves can flag reviews they think are not written by someone they have interacted with. And if a review is not verifiable, then we would look to remove the review.”
The Brokermatch founder concluded: “By virtue of having those customer reviews, it really puts the power in the hands of the customers. And it really gives customers much more confidence that they’re not just reading spin, they aren’t just reading beautifully crafted marketing campaigns, they’re hearing from their peers and from their experiences.
“The broking industry has been so reliant on harnessing word of mouth and by showcasing the customer reviews, the aim is to take that online.
“Ultimately, my end goal is to get more Australians to use a broker to get finance,” Ms Barnett said.
While the review site will offer a free -for-life version for brokers, it is expected that a premium version of the site will be rolled out on a subscription basis later this year.
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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