Communication and Feedback Critical Components in Mergers & Acquisitions

In today’s banking climate, it would be hard not to find a small to mid-sized bank looking to expand through acquiring a bank or by being acquired.  Most of these banks see acquisitions as a chance to scale up quicker and remain competitive.  Outside of the complex paperwork, negotiation and shear logistics that come along with all mergers and acquisitions, there is managing expectations and experiences of the customers and employees.

While mergers and acquisitions provide the bank with increased assets and typically a broader geographic footprint, keeping customers will provide the best long revenue stream.  Unfortunately, approximately 15% of customer leave their bank.  While some attrition is inevitable, continuing to focus on service quality throughout the transition can help minimize the fallout. In fact, even among customers who stayed with their bank after the merger or acquisition, 12% say the service is worse. This group continues to be at risk of leaving1.

To prevent this from happening, make sure your M&A process includes a solid communication plan and a way to stay on top of customer and employee sentiment to ensure it’s meeting expectations. At the time of the merger, branch locations, ATM locations, and online account access may not be completely flushed out and could take several months to do that.   These touchpoints are important to the customer as well as to the employees. You may not be able to tell employees details on how the merger will affect their jobs.  Make sure you communicate on the process to both customers and employees throughout the merger process and make the information available in all places a customer would want to find it—their mailbox, email or on your website.

Aside from communicating, it is important to get feedback on how the merger is affecting the customers and employees. Investing in an ongoing customer feedback program increases the effectiveness of your feedback process and ensures your communication plan is on target. Both employees and customers are more likely to provide candid, direct feedback to a third party. It can be very simple.

 First, Listen

  • Give acquired employees multiple opportunities to provide anonymous feedback. You’ll identify specific addressable concerns, plus, it sends a message that you care about their opinions.
  • Start early like right after acquisition is approved but before the system conversion.
  • Get anonymous feedback from a representative sample of customers.
  • Collect ongoing feedback through the first 6-12 months of the acquisition process.

Respond

  • Failing to respond to what acquired customers and employees have shared undermines your credibility with customers and employees.
  • Asking the right questions and then using of the feedback you receive to address issues before it’s too late.

Then, Listen Again

Once you take action on the feedback you received, it’s important to check back with both groups to assess the effectiveness of what you’ve done. Survey acquired employees at least one time following system conversion. Use ongoing feedback from acquired customers to detect changes in their perceptions following your actions.

If you don’t have a program in place, we here at the MSR Group have one, APECS. It is a customer and employee feedback measurement and improvement program that will increase the effectiveness of your feedback process and ensure your communication plan is on target. If you would like to have a live demo, email us.  We will have one of our CX experts give you the demo.

1MSR Group’s National Bank Study