8 Steps to Create a Unified Customer Journey Post Merger
When two companies merge, it’s more than just a financial transaction – it also means merging their customer bases. A poorly conceived merger can have a negative impact on the customer experience. What can you do to create a unified customer journey during and after the merger process? It’s a matter of planning ahead and always taking the customer into consideration.
- A successful merger depends on unifying the customer journey and retaining customers from both merged companies.
- A merger can fail if customer needs are not taken into account during the process.
- To unify the customer journey during the merger, form a customer experience team, set ambitious customer retention goals, and build the customer journey into all integration plans.
- You also need to communicate with and listen to customers during the merger, train both companies’ staffs, and establish a common core customer data management platform.
Challenges Facing Customers During the Merger Process
According to PwC, merger and acquisition activity reached an all-time high in 2021, up 24% from the previous year. Unfortunately, experts believe that at least half of all deals fail.
There are many reasons for this, including inaccurate valuations, insufficient due diligence, and the two companies being a poor cultural fit. A merger can also fail because the customer gets lost during the process.
To ensure a successful merger, you have to be aware of common challenges that affect your customers, including:
- Neglecting customer needs during the merger process
- Determining how to manage mutual customers
- Dealing with data silos between the two firms
- Managing different compensation models that may affect how staff interact with customers
- Working out culture clashes between the two firms
- Integrating different customer-facing systems, including CRM, customer service, and billing
How to Create a Unified Customer Journey Post Merger
Dealing with these and other challenges requires adopting a customer-focused mindset throughout the entire merger process. The good news, according to PwC, is that 48% of customers have a positive merger experience, compared to just 20% who have a negative experience. The bad news is that it’s easy to screw things up – especially if you focus too much on the mechanics of the merger and not enough on the customer.
To ensure continuing customer satisfaction with all aspects of the new company, one of the goals of the merger process should be to maintain a consistent and superior customer journey. Here are eight things you can do to achieve that goal.
1. Start the Process Before the Merger
Ensuring a consistent post-merger customer experience and unified customer journey starts before the merger is finalized. Both companies’ customers need to be at the forefront of all merger-related planning and discussions.
- Placing a customer advocate on the merger team
- Including a consistent customer experience as one of the goals of the merger
- Analyzing and comparing each firm’s customer journey in advance, including customer marketing, sales, and customer service
- Determining how best to merge each company’s customer-facing systems and operations
- Talking to customers to gauge their expectations of and concerns about the merger
- Including costs for merging customer-facing systems into the overall merger expenses
- Determining how best to merge all customer-facing staff, including sales and customer service
Doing this work before the merger will give you a good head start for unifying the customer journey post merger.
2. Form a Customer Experience Team to Focus on Customer Needs
Dedicated staff must be focused on customer needs during and after the merger process. To this end, form a customer experience team with members from both companies to serve as customer advocates and communicate with customers about the merger and any changed operations.
3. Build the Customer Journey into All Integration Plans
When merging two companies, it’s common to focus on systems and processes. You and your customer experience team need to ensure that maintaining a high-quality and consistent customer journey is included in all integration plans. Make sure to take the customer experience into account when all post-merger integrations are discussed.
4. Set Ambitious Customer Retention Goals
Another way to encourage all team members to focus on the customer journey is to set ambitious goals for customer retention post-merger. Instead of focusing solely on achieving synergies or reducing costs to gauge the success of the merger, adopt a set of metrics to track customer retention, customer satisfaction, and the customer experience and regularly monitor progress to plan. Make customer retention as important as any post-merger financial goal.
5. Communicate and Listen
Keep both companies’ customers in the loop during and after the merger process. Uninformed customers may panic and abandon your company before the ink is dry on the merger papers. Communicate clearly and often with customers to let them know how the merger affects them and their relationship with your new company.
You also need to listen to your customers. You won’t know how they’re reacting to the merger unless you ask them about it. Track customer service interactions, have your sales staff ask for customer input, and maybe even conduct a little market research to see how customers really feel about what’s happening. You can then fine-tune your post-merger plans based on their responses.
6. Focus on Differing Customer Journeys
The customer journey and experience likely differ between the two merged companies. You need to analyze what’s different and what’s similar between the two and develop a unified customer journey and experience for the new combined company. Take the best from each company while trying to maintain consistency with both companies’ pre-merger experience.
7. Create a Common Core Customer Data Management Platform
Your newly merged company will depend heavily on data collected from both firms. Merge these two data sets as rapidly as possible so that you create a new single source of truth and information. You want the merged firm to be able to market and sell to both sets of customers, offering each company’s customers new products and services from the other company.
Creating this centralized data repository requires breaking down any data silos that might exist between or within the two companies. It also means establishing a unified data structure, merging shared contacts, and cleaning the database of inaccurate or missing data. It also means establishing new combined operations and processes, including reporting. You need this unified data platform to run the day-to-day combined business and to make more informed strategic decisions.
8. Train All Your Staff – Old and New
Finally, both companies’ staff need to be trained in the newly established operations and processes of the merged firm. Think of this training as similar to the onboarding you do for new employees – in a newly merged company, every employee is new and needs this initial training.
(The following video offers more advice for ensuring customer success post merger.)
Let Rainmaker Help You Unify the Customer Journey Post Merger
When you need to merge systems and unify the customer journey post merger, turn to the Salesforce experts at Rainmaker. We can help you merge two Salesforce systems or introduce Salesforce to a merged company. We’ve been helping businesses for more than two decades get more out of the Salesforce platform. Our Salesforce managed services can help ease the merger process and ensure that you retain customers from both companies.
Contact Rainmaker today to learn more about integrating Salesforce post merger!