How to enhance the customer experience during a merger in three easy steps

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Recently, the telecom industry’s #3 and #4 underdogs announced plans to merge and create a bigger and better wireless carrier company. The news spread quickly to industry regulators, but spread even more quickly to T-Mobile and Sprint customers. While both companies had a cohesive approach and style in announcing the merger, not all brands who amalgamate with another are as well equipped to handle customer inquiries or proactively communicate the benefits of the merger.

Across any industry, the long-term success of a merger is dependent on what the two brands do jointly and separately in order to prepare their customer-base and their employees, who will ultimately be the face of the transaction. If you’re looking to enhance your customer experience (CX) to freshen up your strategies, or because you’re about to or are currently going through a merger, the following steps will act as a guide and will lead you toward delivering the positive experiences your customers expect and desire.

Empower internal teams
One of the first things I would recommend for any company is to assess the back office. Before you can launch into a strategy to announce a merger, your brand needs to conduct a gap analysis – with your employees and with your technology capabilities – to determine if there are any needs to be addressed.

When it comes to your employees, you need to ensure they are excited about the merger and to do this you need to communicate to them the benefits the combined company will bring (new jobs, more internal growth opportunities, collaboration and more). You also need to set your employees and internal teams up for success. Do your customer-facing employees (such as agents in a contact center, sales people in a retail store, or even members of the billing team) have the necessary tools to engage and communicate with customers? Has messaging or an FAQ been distributed across the company? While it may seem elementary, some of these internal preparation steps can be overlooked, and when they are, they can negatively impact your brand’s reputation and CX.

Communicate then listen
Once internal teams and employees across the company framework are prepared and ready to handle an array of inbound customer inquiries, it’s time to externally communicate the news of the merger to customers. As you do with employees, it is imperative that you communicate the benefits of the merger to your customers – early and often. For example, will the new combo-brand offer customers increases in savings, new features and capabilities to streamline their day-to-day, or access to new products and services? Knowing what your customers value most will help you shape the initial message. While the news may surprise and delight most customers, you can expect to receive constructive feedback from customers and from a CX standpoint – these are the voices you absolutely must listen to. The ability to listen effectively to your customer base and capture their feedback, as well as nimbly respond to their feedback will play a role in determining long-term success. For example, if your brand begins to receive an influx of customer inquiries via a contact center, and their primary concern is fear of increased fees, (which in reality won’t be the case), the brands need to assess how their communication of this benefit may have failed and quickly adapt to ensure customers understand that they’ll actually be on the receiving end of cost savings – not the opposite.

Walk the walk
If you’ve gotten to the point where the ink on the contract is dry, the merger is complete and you’ve navigated ups and downs of customer feedback during the transition – buckle up, because this is where the real CX work comes in. It’s not enough for brands to be attentive to customer needs during the transition, this personalization and effort needs to overflow into the months and years after a merger in order for there to be long-term success. Simply put, brands need to walk the walk and prove to their customers that the merger was in fact a good idea and beneficial to them. Whether it’s through action by upholding promises made during the initial phase, or announcements centered around the milestones achieved, brands need to consistently prove to their customers and employees that they’re in it for them.

When two organizations come together as one, there are obvious steps that each brand must take in order to create a harmonious new brand. While there may not be a linear path to success, brands that invest in empowering their internal teams, communicate effectively to customers and take actionable steps with the feedback they receive and ultimately prove to their customers day-in and day-out that their well-being and brand loyalty is priority number one, will be the ones who experience long-term success after a merger.

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