6 Tips for Change Communications

Your call center is quiet… and that’s a good thing.

If you’re a bank marketing exec, you usually try to come up with ideas that will resonate with customers and prospects, leading them to eagerly respond online, on the phone, or in person at the branch.

But sometimes the lack of response is what you want. In these instances, silence is golden.

Let’s say you’re tasked with delivering customer change information, such as a branch closing, a product update, or a change in online services. On those occasions, the best measure of success is when the phones don’t ring and your branches don’t get inundated with confused or irate customers. If all is quiet, you’ve done a good job explaining the change and its impact.

Here are a few tactics to help you achieve that goal.

  1. Prioritize your message.
  • The key points of your communication are the WHAT, WHEN and HOW of the change, so find a way to feature them prominently in a sidebar or callout box.
  • If there is an action the customer needs to take before the change becomes effective, your top priority should be to highlight the date and times when customers need to complete the action. And if no action is required, make a big deal about it. You’re making this change easy for your customers.
  • Include a phone number for questions and a website URL for additional details.
  • Include access to a set of frequently asked questions—reiterating key messages and providing additional detail on specific topics.
  • Remember, chances are slim that your recipient will read every word in your letter, so make sure all key points are skimmable

2.  Communicate what is not changing.

  • Change can be intimidating, so if there are aspects that are not changing (such as fees, rates, login credentials, branch/call center hours and staff), state that clearly.
  • Highlight the key selling points that will remain, which can remind customers why they chose the product or service in the first place.

3.  Consider the timing.

  • Many changes that affect customers, such as updates to your product line or fee increases must be communicated 30 days prior to the date the change goes into effect. However, if there is customer action required, consider mailing even earlier than this 30-day requirement to ensure customers have ample time to respond.
  • On the other hand, if you are providing new login credentials for online banking, mail them closer to the effective date. That way, customers have time to receive them, but not enough time for them to misplace or forget about the letter. A good guideline here is to mail this kind of information approximately two weeks prior to the date the change goes into effect.

4.  Personalize to identify account(s).

  • It’s helpful to provide the customer’s account number(s)—or last four digits—in your letter. If the change affects only one or two accounts, you can list the account number(s) in a subject line or headline. Multiple accounts for the same customer can be consolidated in a chart within the letter. Providing this level of detail can alleviate customer confusion since it is clear which accounts will be affected and may reassure them that you have considered their total relationship.

5.  Use multiple touchpoints.

  • When it comes to conveying change information, there’s no such thing as over-communicating. Reach out to customers using printed and electronic methods to help ensure that your message is seen. Suggested touch points include:
    • Direct mail
    • Email and secure messages within online banking programs
    • Banners and interstitials on your website, linking to a microsite with more detailed information
    • Generic statement inserts or statement messages for changes that affect your entire audience

6.  Be true to your brand.

Ensure that your brand’s promise and voice are reflected in all customer touchpoints and communications. After all, your brand supports your company’s performance by helping to retain and build share of wallet of existing customers, while keeping attrition rates low.

Keeping these six tactics in mind as you create your change communications will result in clear, timely information that will help assure a more positive customer experience… and a quiet call center.

MKP communications inc. is a New York City based communications company that delivers spot-on strategy, smart, fresh creative, combined with flawless execution, exclusively for financial services clients.