It can be a turbulent time when companies undergo Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A). This can be one of the most disruptive times leaving your business vulnerable to losing your most loyal customers to your competition. One remedy is to look to your BPO provider who works with you, managing your customer service operations, involve them as an integral part of your planning and transition team before you make the M&A announcement to the external world. Work with them to proactively prepare the complete customer communication strategy during the M&A phase and its subsequent implementation. Here are a few points to consider when to make your M&A transaction more successful.
Focus on core aspects of the merger, and involve your Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) provider in defining the merged and reengineered processes. It’s very tough time when companies undergo M&A. There are many stakeholders that companies are answerable to during this phase including regulations, customers, vendors, employees, shareholders etc. They have to fight the battle on many fronts simultaneously. During this time, the added resources and flexibility of a trusted BPO partner whom then they can rely upon for all the support functions will enable them focus on the core elements of the M&A transaction and the benefits it should derive..
Engage your BPO partners early in the game so that they can become your advocates during the entire Merger or Acquisition process and assist in preparing the stakeholder communication strategy. When companies are undergoing M&A, it is very delicate time. This is the time when there are high chances of losing your most loyal customers if their queries are not handled effectively and efficiently. This can create fear, uncertainty and doubt in their mind about the benefit of the M&A to themselves. Customers may even ask questions directly related to the recent M&A, and these delicate questions need to be handled tactfully and in accordance with SEC guidelines. A competent BPO partner, with its experience in this space can prepare the list of likely questions that may be asked by the customers and make the responses ready. This is essential to minimizing the inevitable churn, since customers are likely to have concerns during this entire process and for some time afterwards.
At the same time, companies can concentrate on multiple channels of reaching out to customers instead of depending on only the traditional voice or letter channel. This is very important since different customer segments will have different affinity to use different communication channels. For example, Generation X or Generation Y customers who are more tech savvy may want to use social media or web chat channel instead of call center. In such scenarios, companies and their BPO partner need to ensure that there is a consistency in answering customer queries irrespective of customer service channels and in a real-time environment.
In most of the cases, when companies are undergoing M&A, there could be increase in call volumes in the call center. These call volume fluctuations can be routinely handled by the BPO partner, and the parent company doesn’t have to worry about bringing on additional resources and infrastructure for a short term, one time situation. Or worse yet, staffing up and what was thought to be a temporary bubble in hiring, but later never fully settles back down to previous levels, raising costs.
Utilized strategically and collaboratively, BPO partners can be much more than mere service providers. Throughout the entire M&A process, they can act as trusted partner in multiple ways. Call center providers are constantly in touch with the customers of a client company, they can gather the information about various customer interactions that they had, analyze that information and provide valuable feedback and insight about the sentiments of customers about a company during the M&A process. This information can be useful to gauge the customer base receptivity to the transaction, predict how many customers are likely to churn or stick to company, and accordingly take a few preventive or opportunistic tactical efforts, during the complete M&A process and continue to do so for some time after the M&A transaction. Apart from the customers, there are other important stakeholders in the form of vendors and employees who might get impacted during the M&A process. Companies along with their BPO partner can put together a communication plan for addressing the queries of this important community, even put up a temporary, dedicated communication line where employees and vendors can raise their issues and concerns.
A surge in the customer calls during the M&A process can be very good cross-sell and up-sell opportunity. This is the time when customer care agents of the BPO provider can be trained to sell the new products or services apart from acting as mere customer service agents. At the same time, they should be trained, empowered and rewarded to retain the existing customer since there could be a growing threat from the competition who is actively trying to poach this unsettled set of customers.
Companies should more actively take their BPO partner into confidence before the entire M&A. phase begins and involve them in the customer communication strategy right from the word go, much as they would if it was a captive operation. Deployed effectively and strategically the BPO partner can help reduce customer churn, increase sales, and maintain the customer satisfaction score during the entire M&A phase.