The dollar value of global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity totaled $5.7 trillion in 2015, an all-time high. After declining somewhat in 2016, activity is off to a strong start in 2017. The spike in M&A activity is largely attributed to higher earnings, sales growth and increased confidence among CEOs. If the current pace is maintained through the end of the year, we could see $6.7 trillion in deals.
Despite the bright outlook, there are always challenges and risks associated with M&As. In fact, Harvard Business Review estimates 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, customers don’t always get the attention they deserve.
Communication with employees and customers 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 before they get information from you, the risk of customer churn increases dramatically.
The contact center is 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. Managers and advisers must assess and quantify risk, and then look for ways to improve operations in a way that could add business value. Contact center agents must be informed and prepared to answer customer questions about M&As.
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.
An assessment can be comprehensive and cover all aspects of operations, or targeted to specific areas as directed by management. Items typically assessed include but are not limited to organizational structure, workflows, scheduling, staff utilization, cost per transaction, quality assurance, performance, customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. An assessment will often involve interviews with managers and agents, call monitoring, reviews of call reports, technology analysis, and an examination of financial results.
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.
by Corey Steere, ProSys Account Executive, helping customers meet their corporate business objectives through technology.