Make Customer Service a Priority before Mergers or Acquisitions

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What customer service lessons can financial institutions learn from the recent wave of bank mergers? As Joel Vaslow, the COO of The MSR Group, points out in a recent article for The Financial Brand, there are more than a few lessons to learn and suggestions to implement for banks considering future mergers or acquisitions.

The Net Advocacy Rating—a key metric used by The MSR Group in a recent survey—scores how likely customers are to recommend and repurchase from a company. With the shift towards more social, word-of-mouth driven advertising, this rating can mean a lot to businesses.

According to the study, customers who experience a merger have a Net Advocacy Rating of 40.7, compared to 61.3 for customers who have not.

In addition, of the 15% of customers who chose to leave a bank after a merger, 42% found that the customer service experience had become worse after the merger. 12% of customers who stayed with the bank claimed that the service had gone down-hill since the merger as well.

In the new relationship revolution, such strong indicators of customer displeasure don’t bode well for the banks that have gone through mergers or acquisitions, or are planning for one. Similar to what we would recommend at Aspect, Vaslow encourages banks to focus on the customer from the beginning, making sure that customer service and engagement is paramount both leading up to and after a merger.

Negative perceptions to mergers can be minimized if the company plans for and coordinates proper customer interactions.

To ensure this happens, financial institutions should:

  • Start with employees by educating them about the merger and training them on appropriate, positive responses to customers
  • Stay away from standard announcements of the merger and, instead, communicate news in the same style and personality that they’ve been using to differentiate the brand
  • Be proactive and up-front with customers, clearly explaining what is occurring, addressing concerns, and pointing them to resources if they need more information

Just because a company is going through a merger doesn’t mean that it should stray away from the same principles that have guided its customer service before. In these cases, the company needs to focus even more on training employees and engaging customers.

What lessons have you learned from witnessing mergers or acquisitions in your industry?