Mergers and acquisitions are so tricky. Depending on how you handle merger communications, losing customers is a real possibility. The question is, why do customers leave? And how do you persuade customers to stay?
The answers to these questions are not always easy or clear. If a customer has been unhappy with a bank, and finds out it’s going to merge, that’s the perfect motivation for that customer to shop for another bank. And there’s probably no way to change that person’s mind (although, not impossible—maybe the merger will offer exactly what she/he wanted in the first place).
Here is the main reason people don’t like bank mergers.
You probably already guessed this. Nobody likes change. Nobody wants to go through the hassle of changing a bunch of stuff, learning new rules, systems, adapting to a different bank name, having their branch close, having to clean out / move their safety deposit box, finding out their favorite product is changing or going away, filling out forms. Some people (like maybe this blog post writer) hate reading directions and will put an Ikea bookshelf together backwards before ever glancing at the instruction sheet.
That’s a lot of rigmarole to go through.
On the other hand, switching to a new bank also involves rigmarole, even though it’s usually framed as being simple. It actually involves everything in the above paragraph.
So how do you keep customers on board?
EdgeMark has worked on a number of bank mergers & acquisitions and we have some advice for you, and it’s actually pretty simple, even though a merger program is decidedly not simple in itself. But the key to success is called communication. Start communicating EARLY. Be friendly. Be concise. Make directions clear and easy to follow.
Communicate a lot. Over-communicate.
Send everything through direct mail and let email and social media support your messages. A letter package announcing the merger can be supported and re-iterated on Facebook. Real-time customer questions can be addressed and answered there, which creates a personalized customer experience. Email can be a great tool as well, since it can link customers directly to site pages where they may need to take an action. But a friendly, personalized letter in the mailbox is always the place to start, the anchor of your whole campaign.
Your customer service providers must be trained to handle merger questions smoothly, providing a seamless customer experience that foreshadows what the customer can expect working with the new version of their bank. Every communication and every experience the customer has during the merger process is essential in keeping folks on board.
Wealth management customers require extra communication and care. Letting them know that their team will stay in place, or taking the time to personally introduce them to a new team, as well as how the new iteration of the bank is going to keep their money growing (or has even more potential to grow their money) is crucial. The more personalized this experience is for these customers, the more re-assuring, the better.
Since retaining your wealth management customers is key, we’ll delve into this topic in another blog post with more detail.
Do you have a merger on the horizon? EdgeMark has tons of experience and a track record of success to go with it. We’re here to help your venture get off on the right foot.