Commentary

Matter Of Trust: Maintaining Customer Experience During M&A

During a merger and acquisition transition, the companies involved usually are concerned with demonstrating shareholder value first and then focus on the customer base. Retention is a vital part of a successful M&A, and maintaining a consistent customer experience (CX) throughout the process is a challenging but critical part of any consolidation effort.  

A recent PwC report, “CX in M&A: What consumers think when companies combine,” revealed that 80% of consumers believe companies should focus on CX during a transition. Yet, only 24% said companies have had a strong focus on improving the CX in past deals. 

Assuming that both companies are committed to conducting strong due diligence on their respective digital properties prior to the close of sale, there are three main areas to consider to ensure the customer stays top of mind.

Know what assets you have and where you’re going

Assess what is complementary, disruptive, won or lost. Evaluate what shared technologies are in place and what customers may stand to gain or lose. This helps keep them front and center during an M&A transition, and helps you and your team understand the full extent of what is being acquired and owned moving forward.

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Questions to ask include:

  • Will you inherit an existing team that needs to be integrated into your own or are you just acquiring technology?  
  • What departments own what? 
  • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • What assets are included or missing? 

List your assets and assign your team to tasks accordingly. Clearly defined roles will keep the transition process smooth, and a well-supported team will help with customer retention and loyalty. 

Determine all digital assets and CX documentation

Doing a deep digital footprint analysis must be a priority in order to protect the brand and customer loyalty in the future. Understand all of the digital assets that are in place, who owns the documentation for them, and conduct a risk assessment on how customers may react to changes. 

 Any documentation about product development is critical when there is an anticipated change in staffing or priorities as a result of the M&A process. 

Know the existing CX and communicate change

As a CX pro, your job during an M&A is to maintain trust with customers by keeping the lines of communication open and updating them on the improvements happening. 

Further, be transparent with details about how the CX may change. You want to avoid springing any surprises that can cause confusion or give competitors an opportunity to lure your base. 

Another aspect of ensuring the M&A transition is smooth is to educate your team on the value of the CX quotient. Everyone needs to feel empowered to listen and act on feedback. 

After you’ve developed a clear picture of the current, transitional and future CX, communicate it clearly to customers and bring them along on the exciting journey. When customers feel their needs are being considered and addressed, they’ll have far more patience and trust in your brand.

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