Seen through the eyes of customers, mergers and acquisitions involving key suppliers & service providers mean two things: risk and opportunity. Which side of that coin customers see, or which they experience firsthand following the announcement can make a big difference for the combining organizations.
The questions on customers’ minds when suppliers merge are things like:
M & A events often lead customers to wonder how the transaction will impact their fit and importance. Uncertainty can prompt otherwise stable customers to question whether this is a good time to test their options and evaluate new providers and solutions.
M & A transactions bring opportunities, but the new sales don’t always happen quickly and certainly not on their own. Salespeople on both sides of the transaction need to learn about the new products and services they have to offer. Customers need to be informed, too, and are generally curious about the solutions and resources that they now have access to.
It’s a fair question to ask. Does the acquisition create economies of scale that will benefit customers? Does the merger reduce competition and lead to increases?
Losing a long-time account manager or a familiar customer support representative, even when things aren’t perfect, is a hassle customers would rather not endure.
Even if customers don’t ask this question out loud, you can be assured they’re wondering to themselves. Combining organizations comes with disruption – in all sorts of ways. Getting ahead of those concerns by listening to and reassuring customers about the transition can go a long way. A period of disruption and uncertainty is NOT a good time to stop seeking feedback.
Just like the financial markets, customers don’t like uncertainty. Sitting face to face with key customers, listening to their concerns, and responding with targeted actions and communication will help to reduce that uncertainty and maintain trust in the midst of change.
How E.G. Can Help
Customer Due Diligence
Pre-acquisition interviews with key customers to gauge customer loyalty, identify any at-risk customers, and understand product or service related issues and opportunities before the transaction is closed.
Acquired Customer Reviews
Post-acquisition interviews aimed at understanding customer sentiment regarding the announced change. Listen for opportunities to sell the broader product or service portfolio, assess level of disruption to the customer experience, and develop actions to retain and grow the new customer base.
Relationship Transition Reviews
Interviews, conducted by relationship managers, specifically with customers whose relationship managers or customer support teams have changed. These reviews demonstrate a desire to listen, position the new account team members as resources, and accelerate the knowledge and relationship building process for the relationship managers and support team members.
Short, targeted online surveys used to address specific priorities and opportunities related to the organizational transition. Gauge progress on integration efforts such as system and process changes, measure customer optimism or frustration related to the changes, and uncover small problems before they grow.