customer experience strategy
Most of us have been here. Your Internet connection goes down. You call the old support number and step through new automated prompts. Since your provider has been acquired, the “system” no longer recognizes your account number. You ask for a customer service rep. Someone picks up. A real human! Unfortunately, the problem may require a new router. A technician comes out to the house and immediately repairs the router. The next week, your Internet connection goes down…You cancel your service and opt for another provider.
While these service inquiries are common for any customer-facing organization, the potential for service hiccups is amplified when fusing two companies after a merger or acquisition. While financial, competitive and intellectual-property factors typically drive consolidation in business, what’s often overlooked is the impact on the companies’ customers.
Businesses often announce that mergers or acquisitions, “will help us better serve our customers,” but the reality is that uniting companies can yield a hefty load of operational and infrastructure issues if technology and operational plans aren’t in place to ensure that the customer experience is optimized when disparate systems and departments are consolidated.
In many industries, mergers have become less a question of “if” and more of “when.” Look at the telecommunications sector for example. Several major US wireless carriers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint have all acquired or been acquired by competitors in the last few months.
On one hand, executives have to migrate and merge existing customer records across multiple systems and channels including billing, operations, and marketing, while often underestimating the amount of technical effort that is required. On the other hand, you have customers that are concerned that they will suddenly be faced with lower quality products or services, and higher rates. The ambiguity causes anxiety – is it necessary to become familiar with a whole new process or online account management portal just to do what they have always done? Are merged companies giving customers a reason to leave?
Mergers are tough on the customer to say the least. Just when a business thinks it has identified all the leaks in a boat in terms of service, customers let them know through social media and churn that it’s far worse – it’s the Titanic and it’s sinking fast. However, there are things companies can do to ensure seamless customer data consolidation while maintaining customer experience levels during and post integration. One critical aspect of a merger is to have a view into, and really understand, the customers’ experiences across the entire new organization — all the touch points, every interaction, the entire customer journey. That way, when a customer has a good interaction with an agent, but still churns, you know why: the cumulative experience can be anemic even when each touch point is optimized. At ClickFox, we’ve found that our Fortune 500 clients have optimized customer experience after a merger by:
- Strategizing for future due diligence on the data: Ensure there are plans that take into account the cumulative customer experience across every customer touch point. If a company has a strategic data plan in place to encourage transparency across the organization, then customers are likely to not only have a positive individual encounter with the business, but be happy with the overall process.
- Considering the complete journey: One of the biggest issues with any merger or acquisition is bringing together different technologies and cultures, so it isn’t simply the customer journeys that companies will want to track and measure. Employee journey data can provide great insight on how well everyone is executing according to the plan.
- Using predictive analytics: With a comprehensive view of your customers’ experiences, you can better predict and track how they will react, and be prepared if a storm hits.
The most successful companies make a point of looking at the bird’s eye view while attending to each detail. You may have the most intuitive website or helpful employees in your retail stores, but if the process overall takes too long, or requires too much effort, you will have dissatisfied customers with little reason to stay. It is essential to have a holistic view and understanding of their experience. Only then can you develop a successful strategy for exceeding their expectations and increasing your bottom line.