Years from now, we will look back at this decade as one of extraordinary change, a defining time for our industry. Our reflections will be about more than mergers and consolidation. We will measure our progress not just by what we did, but how we did it.
Companies merge for well-intentioned reasons: to combine complementary operations, accelerate innovation and achieve service velocity. And, yet, numerous studies have found that more than half of all mergers fail to deliver intended improvement in shareholder value.
For customers, a merger’s success or failure is measured by their experience. They still deeply desire consistent, seamless service.
Teams must think about cross-company training, reinforcement of soft skills and technology training for customer- care associates, technicians and all employees who interact with customers.
Simply put, merger success rests in great customer service. Here are three areas of people investment that will serve a company well before, during and after a merger.
Invest in Soft Skills
Effective leaders who know how to communicate and manage through change can build trust and boost engagement when productivity is most likely to dip — by as much as 10%, according to one study. Change management training for your leaders is imperative so they know what to expect during the so-called ‘change curve’ and how to manage through it.
Soft skill investment doesn’t stop there. Take time to sharpen customer care associates’ and technicians’ soft skills so they can listen to customer concerns and address their concerns. Consider enrolling frontline, customer-facing employees in customer retention.
Push for Technology Proficiency
Merging cable operations provides unique challenges, particularly for customer care. Customers will have questions about technology configurations, channel lineups and the design of their bills. Providing easy access to the right systems and proper training build proficiency across the combined company.
Take an Employees-First Approach
You will rely on frontline employees to deliver an exceptional experience during a time of great change. You may even require a new level of frontline empowerment, which can create conflict in command-and-control environments. No matter the method, it’s wise to heed the mantra that satisfied employees make for satisfied customers. Invest in leadership with training to build synergistic teams, foster effective communication and manage conflict.
Make the customer experience an integral part of merger planning. Find new ways to empower employees so they can communicate with and listen to customers. Done right, we’ll look back at this transformative time as the start of cable’s age of service.
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