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Merger Communications: Make a Good First Impression

When two financial institutions come together through a merger or acquisition, every element of every communication must positively reflect the image and branding of the organization. Proper planning and execution are critical to achieving the goal of making a good first impression.

Welcome to the Bank

The first communication should be a letter sent to the soon-to-be-acquired customers as soon as possible after the merger is announced, welcoming them to the bank. It’s crucial this happens immediately following the announcement to avoid rumors and negative publicity.

The letter would come from the CEOs of both banks, and would reassure customers that the merger process will be smooth and they will benefit through enhanced service offerings, more branches, etc. They would be told they’ll be getting specific information about their accounts as the transition progresses.

Frequently Asked Questions

If timing permits, another jointly signed letter could be sent about 6-8 weeks later. A brochure listing the answers to frequently asked questions such as “Can I continue to use my existing checks?” or “Will I need a new password for Bill Pay?” would be included in the package. This would take some of the pressure off branch/call center staff.

The Conversion Mailing

Once the conversion date is finalized, the major communication mailing would be scheduled to be received by customers 30 days prior to the big day. Each customer would have their accounts listed to include the current product name along with the new “post-conversion” name. If the account numbers are changing, the old and new numbers would be listed as well.

A Product Conversion Guide would be included with this mailing. This catalog provides the opportunity for the acquiring bank to present its brand and its products. Laid out with eye-catching graphics, the Guide must have enough “production value” to make it worthy of being kept as a resource for new customers and a sales tool for employees.

The Data is Key

Data files should be acquired well in advance so that all products are accounted for and confirmation can be made that they have been properly mapped to new products. Accounts with identical name/address info are combined into one letter to eliminate duplicate packages.

Knowledgeable people from both banks need to review the data to verify its accuracy before the letters are produced. Once confirmation is received, a sampling of records is printed out to make sure the account information is appearing properly.

During the package assembly, all materials should be verified as being properly inserted. If consumer and business accounts have different disclosure materials, it should be confirmed that customers are receiving the correct legal documents.

The Goal? No Calls.

If customers are properly—and accurately—communicated to with all the details and information they will need, they will be less likely to call with questions about the merger. And making these new customers feel comfortable with the conversion process is the best way to preserve the value of the acquired franchise.