Why Contact Centers Are Critical During Mergers and Acquisitions

by Granville Triumph

More than 8,800 merger and acquisition (M&A) deals were announced in the first quarter of 2021, with a combined transaction value of $878 billion, according to data and analytics company GlobalData. This represents a jump of 48 percent in deal value compared to the first quarter of 2020. Naturally, M&A activity dipped as the magnitude of the pandemic became evident, but it recovered in the second half of 2020 and continues its strong momentum.

Despite the bright outlook, there are always challenges and risks associated with M&As. In fact, Harvard Business Review has estimated a failure rate for M&As of 70 percent to 90 percent. In many cases, one or both sides realize the deal involves a lot more work and costs than were expected, even when the risks and benefits have been carefully assessed. 

As differences in culture, business processes, job responsibilities and technology are addressed, employees and customers don’t always get the attention they deserve. That’s why communication with is critical, even during the smoothest of M&As. 

If employees aren’t engaged and informed during this process, competitors will look to steal high performers who are feeling left out or nervous about the direction of the company. Failure to communicate early and often with customers can also result in losses to competitors. If customers find out about a merger or acquisition through the media or some other third party, the risk of customer churn increases dramatically.

Focus on the Contact Center

The contact center is the hub for customer interactions and must be functioning optimally during a period of significant organizational change. Before a merger or acquisition, organizations must understand the current state of the contact center, how it operates and how customer interactions are managed. 

Business leaders and advisers should assess the contact center to identify potential communication gaps and risk, then look for ways to improve contact center operations to support the transition and add business value. Contact center agents must be thoroughly trained so that they are prepared to answer customer questions about the merger.

A contact center assessment can help to facilitate a successful transition. A contact center assessment will determine if best practices are being followed, efficiency and productivity are being maximized, and customer issues are being addressed and resolved as quickly and effectively as possible. 

Performing an Assessment

The assessment should cover all aspects of contact center operations, with emphasis on specific areas that will be most impacted by the merger or acquisition. It should consider scheduling, staffing and workflows, and how the organizational structure might change as the transaction moves toward integration. The assessment will often require interviews with managers and agents as well as reviews of contact center reports, call monitoring and technology analysis.

The goals of the contact center assessment are to: 

  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Create a business case for implementing changes
  • Quantify the business value of the contact center
  • Clarify the role of the contact center in maximizing customer retention and loyalty
  • Create an action plan with prioritized recommendations, a timeline, and a detailed list of risks and benefits.

Obviously, M&As require significant research and planning. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking the needs of your customers during a period of change, or the role of the contact center in keeping customers in the loop. A contact center assessment should be an integral component of M&A activity.

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