Mergers and acquisitions can create exciting opportunities for financial institutions and their consumers. The strengths of each organization, when properly combined, can create a stronger value proposition in the long run.
However, when mergers are undertaken with inadequate planning and commitment, they can repel consumers, pushing them toward other financial institutions. In fact, consumers are three times more likely to switch financial service providers when their current providers merge with another institution.
Smart merger strategies must be implemented to prevent the loss of customers. Because consumers are suspicious and wary of change, your strategies for the merger must address these five foundational challenges:
- Brand Equity
- The Consumer Experience
- Retail Strategy
- Culture Transformation
This article addresses Retail Strategy, Culture Transformation, and Communications. Check out PART ONE of this topic HERE to read about Brand Equity and The Consumer Experience.
Each organization is unique, with a defined customer base, brand promise, culture, and unique market position. Create a unified retail strategy that effectively combines the brand promises of each party in the merger. If locations need to be closed, define performance measures that will help you understand branch hierarchy.
Develop a retail strategy and experience that faithfully carries your brand promise to your customers. Fully implement this strategy across all delivery channels, as inconsistent delivery sends a subtle, yet powerful message to consumers that your organization’s priorities may not be properly aligned.
Uniting two workforces and cultural mindsets can cause tension among employees that impacts consumer experience. Some of the tension in your team may stem from anxiety about job security, so be clear with your employees about what is changing and what isn’t.
Communicate openly with employees about the integration and transition process, how it will impact their jobs and work environment. Give them a clear road map, communicate the benefits of the merger as they relate to operations and consumer experience.
“How your frontline embraces and explains the acquisition will have greater impact on the success of the deal than any other single factor.”
-Kevin Blair, CEO/President, NewGround
Consider an onboarding program, educating your teams on the following:
- Brand definition
- Brand strategies and attributes
- Workplace vision
- How each team member can deliver on the brand experience
The key to establishing trust in this process is knowledge. When your frontline teams understand the reasoning behind decisions, they can present a clear, unified message in their interactions with customers.
Speak to consumers early, clearly, and often, staying ahead of the rumor mill. Direct communication, when done right, makes consumers feel important and cared for. If you can help them see the merger and subsequent changes as catalysts for improvements in their experience, you can keep them from seeking alternative providers.
Highlight benefits of the merger! Do this consistently across all communication channels, leaving no one out of the loop.
Senior management must do everything they can to support communication efforts. The best way they can help is by being visible to employees and consumers.
NewGround CEO and President Kevin Blair recommends the entire leadership team should spend a minimum of 10 hours per week on the frontline, interacting with employee teams and customers. Accessible leadership helps establish trust and understanding in the process.
If you’re entering a merger or acquisition, don’t waste potential value. Merge right. Let us know if you want to start a conversation with NewGround Strategy. It’s your first step to understanding your best path forward.