‘Hug Your Haters’: Day 1 Takeaways from The Financial Brand Forum

The Financial Brand Forum is back, and better than ever.

After a three-year hiatus (blame Covid), an enthusiastic and larger-then-ever crowd converged on Las Vegas for big-name keynotes, breakout sessions covering CX, marketing and digital growth strategies, and a packed exhibit hall filling two ballrooms in the Aria Hotel & Resort.

The powerhouse opening keynote speakers included world-class impressionist Frank Caliendo doing gut-splitting impersonations of Donald Trump and Joe Biden; best-selling author Jay Baer with insights on how to win over complainers, and NBA legend Magic Johnson inviting audience members to chest bump him between lessons in leadership. (Caliendo covered for his good friend Jay Leno when the A-list comedian had to cancel at the last minute after suffering burns when a fire broke out in his garage. We wish him and his family all of our best.)

There were thousands of big (and little) “aha” moments, laughs, inspirational conversations and hugs from friends who haven’t seen each other in years mixed with pivotal strategic insights and practical ideas. And that was just the start of The Financial Brand Forum 2022.

Here are a few key takeaways that came from day one of The Financial Brand Forum 2022. Come back for more tomorrow.

‘Hug Your Haters’

Jay Baer keynote speaker at The Financial Brand Forum 2022

Best-selling author

No one knows banking complaints like Jay Baer, one of the foremost customer experience experts in the world. Baer has a new book out, called “Hug Your Haters,” and signed copies of it for attendees at The Forum 2022.

In his powerful keynote presentation, Baer said that unbelievably one-third of complaints never receive a reply, across all industries, including financial services. That’s a major mistake for any business.

To make matters worse, for some complaints that are addressed, the reply often directs customers to a different channel.

Jay Baer Financial Brand Forum 2022 keynote speaker

“For every 500 dissatisfied customers, only five will complain. The others just leave; they stop being your customer,” Baer pointed out. In reality, however, “an unhappy customer is a valuable customer because they can help you do better.”

Emotional vs. Rational Satisfaction

Andrea Olson keynote speaker at the 2022 Financial Brand Forum

Behavioral scientist

Nine out of ten decisions are based on emotion — a fact that is often ignored in banking, behavioral scientist and TEDx speaker Andrea Olson maintains.

To capitalize on that insight, banking executives should pivot their institution from being product-oriented to a customer-centric focus. That change, Olson states, can in time generate 60% more revenue.

One step toward achieving this is: Instead of creating a company mission statement, create a customer mission statement. Center it on what the customer wants to achieve, how they want to be served, the impact that the institution will have on the customer and why customers care about what the bank does.

“Everyone is doing ‘good or great,'” Olson said in her Forum 2022 presentation. “It doesn’t make you unforgettable. Good or great isn’t a differentiator. Delivering something that deeply resonates with your customers, however — that’s unforgettable.”

Dealing With ‘Future of Work’ Challenges

Brian Knollenberg speaker at The Financial Brand Forum 2022


“Coming out of the pandemic — where most everyone was working remotely — banks and credit unions need to determine whether being fully remote, fully in person or hybrid is the best option. It will depend on the organization. A fintech, for example, is more likely to be fully remote,” says Brian Knollenberg, Senior Vice President of Marketing for BECU, the fourth largest credit union in the United States.

The decision is also very role dependent, so BECU is implementing a mix of all three options across the organization. “If you’re meeting with people all day long, is it more effective meeting online or in person?” the executive asked. “There’s no doubt we’ve lost something meeting online all the time,” he concluded.

Marketers Learn How Brain Biases Trigger Decision-Making Short Cuts

Nancy Harhut speaker at the Financial Brand Forum 2022

Chief creative officer
HBT Marketing

Human brains like to take shortcuts in their decision-making. It’s an evolutionary default that allows people to reserve their brain power for harder problems.

For example, you don’t have to think about every step you take when going down a flight of stairs, because your brain has worked out the process to the point where it no longer demands focused attention. But you may stumble if a particular stair is a bit taller or shorter than others.

Banks and credit unions can — and should — construct their marketing messages to trigger these decision making defaults, advises Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer for HBT Marketing, during a breakout session at Forum 2022. “Humans have developed these defaults over the millennia as a way to conserve energy; if we had to weigh every bit of info before making a decision, we’d never make one.”

One example she gave: “Banks and credit unions have a lot of tiered programs. So if someone is in danger of dropping from a platinum status to a gold status, remind them of all the benefits they have in the platinum status.”

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