As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” While that’s an important concept for personal relationships, it’s even more important when it comes to customer retention.
COMMUNICATIONS ARE VITAL
When financial institutions merge, their customers aren’t aware of the added benefits that will come their way. They typically see it as “trouble with the business” or the result of “problems.” People resist change and chances are the merger will result in changes to product lines, services, and maybe even the convenience of branch locations.
Additionally, there are legal requirements the merging institutions must fulfill according to specific timetables.
All this can put marketing departments under severe stress. But the WordCom Merger Communications Strategy and Calendar can make your life simpler and—even more importantly—help retain customers after the merger is complete.
ENGAGEMENT COMMUNICATIONS IN 5 CALCULATED STEPS
These communications are flighted according to the specific calendar necessary to meet legal requirements and reach customers at crucial times. The calendar begins three months before the merger date and finishes three months after merger.
The WordCom Merger Communications Strategy and Calendar includes…
Mail Communications #1: A letter co-branded by both financial institutions emphasizing the benefits to the customers. Communications #1 should be ready to mail to all customers quickly after the merger is announced.
Mail Communications #2: This co-branded letter gives specific details about the transition and includes a simple Q&A brochure. All pertinent information customers care about should be addressed. This communication should make customers feel their personal situation is being considered. It should follow within three to five weeks after the welcome letter.
Mail Communications #3: The legal disclosure mailing. This is the first time customers are addressed as customers of the new financial institution. This is a complex communication that must meet the legal requirements and arrive at least 30 days prior to the actual conversion. Only the acquiring FI’s logo appears on the envelope and letterhead.
The personalized letter includes a detailed account summary showing all the customer’s accounts with the old account name and the new conversion name. If account numbers change, those are also shown. Obviously, this very detailed account information is a data intensive operation, so ample time must be allocated to meet the legal deadline.
The focal point of the package is a colorful Product and Service Guide booklet that offers information about all accounts and serves as a future reference. Typically mailed in a 9×12 envelope that’s impossible to ignore, there are also inserts with rules and regulations, fee schedules, and a privacy statement.
Mail Communications #4: Now the conversion date is past, and it’s time to fully assimilate the “new” customers. This mail drop focuses on the most significant customers, based on deposit balance or profitability—usually the top 10% to 20% of the acquired customer base.
These customers receive a personalized letter with bonus offers for specific bank products, like an added percentage on CDs or a loan discount. This mail should arrive within a month after the conversion.
Mail Communications #5: When the acquired customer base has gone through one statement cycle (about six to eight weeks after conversion), send them a survey. Questions should address the quality of the materials they received, the conversion process, as well as questions about their financial goals, products that interest them, and other ways the FI can help. The High Value segment who received Mail Communications #4 can be asked if they intend to take advantage of the special offers.