“We get so caught up in automation and technology that we forget that there are people driving the business.”  -Jelaire Grillo

We’re living in a golden age of financial brands. Fintechs are revolutionizing our industry, creating new demands and opportunities. Meanwhile, sales and marketing teams are struggling to keep up. There’s barely enough time to catch your breath, let alone innovate!

Brand ambassadors might just be the secret to digital transformation. To learn more, we turn to two forward-thinking financial guru Jelaire Grillo, brand ambassador for Prosperity Home Mortgage, who was recently on the Banking on Digital Growth Podcast.

What’s a Brand Ambassador in the Financial Industry?

Jelaire is a brand ambassador who travels across the U.S. training mortgage lenders and leaders on the skills it takes to maximize growth potential. Jelaire’s work provides a window into the state of the modern financial industry.

Brand ambassadors like Jelaire are all around us but we don’t usually notice them. They’re highly educated about their brands, serving as the embodiment of brand identity and spreading the word through their messages, images, and personal recommendations. 

A brand ambassador is your favorite brand’s best friend! You probably have a lot in common.

In a training sense, a brand ambassador is a teacher who specializes in building value for a brand. They ensure a company is perfectly positioned to take advantage of market opportunities and leverage interest in its services, products, programs, and more.

Why the Financial Industry Needs Brand Ambassadors

During the past couple of years, the financial industry has been rocked by industry trends like the rise of fintech startups and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most financial executives have reached a point of being completely overloaded with their daily work.

They haven’t been able to keep up with changing technology. Not only have things been moving too fast, but technology is always changing too.

Related Content: Keeping Up in Transformation with AI as Your Teammate

At this point, embracing technology takes a transformational mindset that’s surprisingly rare in the financial world. Jelaire sees a tendency to become “so stuck and so comfortable” that time just seems to slip away. Technology changes. Opportunities pass. Your business falls behind.

Brand ambassadors are helping companies cope with change and capitalize on technology. They embrace the concept of human transformation, which means allowing your heart and mind to see things differently and act differently.

To put it another way, brand ambassadors understand that it’s all about emotions. And let’s face it: The financial world has always struggled with its emotional side.

Adding Value and ‘Aha!’ Moments

Jelaire works with mortgage loan officers who start the process feeling skeptical. What usually sparks a transformative “aha!” moment for them is the concept of building value.

Any smart financial professional understands building value. If you can show them that there’s a new way to add dollars and cents to their work, that’s a success.

For example, Jelaire worked with loan officers on a lead routing journey that followed customer leads through prospecting, closing, and so forth. The officers experienced an activity where questions and problem-solving allowed them to move a lead from one step to the next.

These officers had to identify their leads’ wants and wishes, then figure out how to meet the leads’ needs. Plus, they were encouraged to identify redundances, break down roadblocks, create efficiencies, and streamline the process along the way. 

This type of exercise encourages listening and critical thinking. It’s a multi-layered approach that often sets the stage for a moment of insight. Suddenly the loan officer says, “Wow! I didn’t even realize this was happening. Let’s change this!”

An experience like this is emotional. It builds buy-in and establishes a positive pattern of troubleshooting and improvement. 

James Robert calls it “experience engineering,” where your self-actualizing leads to improvements in the customer experience. This allows the customer and company to move forward together, farther and faster.

Inhibitors to Transformation

No matter how much we desire transformation, we’re human beings.

Transformation is hard.

It’s challenging to continue pushing forward when there are so many inhibitors to change.

Jelaire believes one of the best ways to break through the roadblocks to transformation is by listening. Do a two-hour customer engagement activity with one of your loan officers or service representatives, and you’ll probably uncover some emotions.

What are you hearing? Frustrations? Fears? Inadequacies? Your people probably wish they could do more and help more, but they’re stuck.

Allow them to talk about what could be different if they had a magic wand. If they were more powerful, what could they accomplish?

Related Content: Digital Training for Employees: Bringing Focus to the Customer Experience

Don’t assume there’s a finish line you’ll cross and be done with transformation. Transformation isn’t a one-and-done event. Even after an initial success, you must continue to revisit the process, take another big step, and see what you’ve learned from the journey.

Also, Jelaire believes it’s a mistake to view automation as the solution to transformation. Loan officers love how automation takes tasks off their to-do lists. But this lulls them into letting messages grow stale, harming the customer relationship.

Automation is a wonderful marketing tool, but it’s just a foundation. You must build on it and use it to create better human connections.

People aren’t doing business with your emails! They’re doing business with you

Authenticity Is the Future of Financial Brands

Looking ahead to the next 3 to 5 years, Jelaire believes the world’s most successful financial brands will be the most genuine. They’re the brands that act authentically and encourage people to be themselves.

Embrace this future by adding the human touch to every interaction in the customer journey. Loan officers should be adding personalization whenever possible. Real estate offices should be added authenticity to the process. Banks should be asking for feedback, then using it to craft a better experience.

Tools like AI and automation should be adding to the humanity of the process, not detracting from it. Always remember that every financial transaction is an opportunity to be more human.