Civista Bank Case Study



25 branches
Based in Sandusky, OH
$1.1 billion in assets


  • Many acquisitions left the bank with a large checking account lineup
  • Needed consistency in employees’ sales processes


  • Developed a simplified lineup of five accounts, including Choice Checking  
  • Executed migration plan for each newly acquired bank
  • Implemented regular employee trainings to bring uniformity to sales processes


  • 27% of new checking customers choose Choice Checking
  • 4% annual growth in checking account openings
  • Continuous increase in openings of accounts with service charges

On its surface, acquiring another bank means a new opportunity for growth, strength and market dominance. Underneath the surface, however, is where you find the struggle of new teams and employees, merged checking account lineups and big changes facing customers. 

“We were growing through acquisitions, and each time it left us with too many checking account types in our current lineup and an increasing number of grandfathered accounts,” said Bob Cox, senior vice president of retail banking for Civista Bank. “We found that launching a new checking account lineup, while simplifying our current lineup, was a great rallying point for our newly merged banks.”

Civista Bank joined with StrategyCorps in 2006 to launch a new lineup of just five accounts, including Choice Checking. Since its most recent enhancement in 2013, including an update to BaZing benefits, Choice Checking makes up 27% of all new consumer checking accounts opened. 

“Bob has uncovered the formula that makes employees in these acquired banks hop on board with his approach to retail banking,” said StrategyCorps Partner Dave DeFazio. “He found the way to make people embrace the mergers and the product. It’s Bob’s leadership that has gotten them through those difficult transitions.”

“Solving each acquisition meant sorting out our sales culture, figuring out how we wanted to acquire new customers and stopping any bleeding of checking accounts,” said Bob. “Leading us to use one common strategy — timely communication.” 

“As soon as new mergers were announced, we made a migration plan for the newly acquired bank,” said Dave. “We converted the products of the new bank before they merged with Citizens. So after the merger, they didn’t have to send another letter to customers telling them that their accounts were changing.”

“Dave showed us the method that StrategyCorps used to look at individual accounts and plug those account holders into a similar Civista Bank account,” said Bob. “We increased our service fee income, while customers gained the Choice Checking benefits of discounts, insurance coverage and more."


Changes in the bank branches also brought a need for consistency in how employees were sharing Choice Checking with customers.

“Bob and his team have always been dedicated to our product,” said Dina Bowling, StrategyCorps’ director of client services. “As BaZing evolves, they continue to bring us onsite on an annual basis to reeducate and reenergize employees on the product and sales process.”

“We take advantage of that training every year,” said Bob. “The quality is high, and we’ve had excellent feedback from participants. We always see a spike in account openings and are able to sustain it with new features like the BaZing mobile app.” 

While the bank previously had a 9% attrition rate, their annual growth is now at 4%. Civista Bank has also seen a continuous increase in accounts with a service charge. 

“We’re very happy with that because if we can continue to grow those accounts, that continues to increase our fee income,” said Bob.

“Bob is a great partner for us because he recognizes his strengths, as well as when to call on his strategic business partners for support,” said Dina. “He really utilizes us for what we do best, and we love that.”