In 2017, Arvest Bank announced that it was to acquire Bear State Bank in 2018. Bear State Bank would merge with Arvest Bank in late Q1 of 2018, and the conversion was scheduled to be completed by Q3 of 2018. The challenge was to ensure that Arvest Bank retained as many Bear State Bank customers as possible by ensuring that customers were made aware of the merger, how their accounts will transition from Bear State to Arvest, and that Bear State branch locations would still be in operation and run by the same employees.
Together with Arvest Bank and Bear State clients, BKM suggested a multi-touch series of direct mail communications, which were to be sent to customers in different increments throughout the process of the merger, including a merger announcement communication, a welcome package with information about how customer’s accounts were going to transition, and a reminder communication two weeks before the final stage of the merger.
Recognizing that Bear State customers choose Bear State because of the sense of community and the fact that it is not a large, institutional bank, BKM focused on communicating Arvest Bank’s commitment to community and similar values. Additionally, since consumer banking customers and business banking customers ultimately have different needs, BKM proposed that the communications materials be tailored in such a way that they accommodate both types of customers and address their respective needs.
BKM created a customer mailing announcing Arvest Bank’s decision to purchase Bear State Bank once the decision was finalized, a mailing welcoming consumers and businesses to Arvest Bank one month prior to the conversions’s completion, and a mailing reminding customers of the merger two weeks prior to its completion. All three pieces were intended to communicate one overall message, the acquisition of Bear State Bank and what to expect. However, each one was versioned to communicate different information based on the time of delivery. BKM consolidated all key communications points into a multi-touch process, which included the following direct mail communications:
Throughout the merger, Arvest did not experience a significant spike in call volume, which can often increase if customers are confused. Arvest shared that they thought the conversion went smoothly and that customers felt informed about what to expect.