Thursday, July 23, 2015

Journey Maps: "Binding Agent" for Mergers and Acquisitions

Image courtesy of Caston Corporate
Today's post is a modified version of a post I originally published on Touchpoint Dashboard's blog on February 19, 2015.

Has your company made an acquisition, been acquired, or merged with another company? Did you know that journey maps can help you design, redesign, and manage both customer and employee experiences through these challenging times?

Let's face it: mergers and acquisitions are hard for everyone living through them, employees and customers alike. Sometimes mergers or acquisitions are made with the assumption that the resultant company will be better for customers and employees. Unfortunately, that's not always true. And if it is, it certainly doesn't happen immediately or without a diligent effort to make it so. In reality, companies spend years integrating systems, data, people, and more - and might even make additional acquisitions before the previous one is completely integrated. This can spell "nightmare" for customers. And for employees.

I've written previously about the importance of continuing to listen to customers and employees during this time of change; if there's ever a time to listen and stay in tune with customers and employees, this is it!

But how can journey maps help with "easing" and integrating acquisitions?

For starters, you can map the current state (prior to the merger or acquisition) for customers and for employees of both organizations to identify what's going well today and what's not. Just because you're going through this time of change doesn't mean you need to set aside your customer experience management efforts. (Assume the same for the employee experience for the rest of this post.) As a matter of fact, those efforts are more crucial now than ever.

Take a look at the current state maps for both companies and uncover:
  • Where is the customer experience breaking down? Where is it going well?
  • Which channels are under-performing? Which are on point?
  • Where are we already listening to customers? Where do we need to do a better job of listening?
  • What can we learn from the other company's customer experience?
  • Are there things happening in the acquired company that the acquirer can benefit from? or vice versa?
  • Are there experience gaps that one company can fill for the other?
Once you've done your homework on the current state, you'll want to consider what the desired future state (with both companies - and their products and customers - combined) looks like in order to identify further gaps, areas for improvement, and more. Be sure to include the customer perspective and his voice throughout this entire process.

Oftentimes the journey mapping exercise is more important than the maps themselves. The exercise keeps the customer front and center and keeps the organization talking about and aware of, at all times, what the customer is thinking and feeling about the new company.

Continuing to focus on the customer experience during times of change lets customers know they are still at the center of the business. Staying the course and not taking your eye off the customer experience during transitional times is huge. Companies in this position must...
  • Focus on the journey, not just on touchpoints
  • Take a holistic view of the customer experience, taking into account both companies
  • Listen to customers' concerns during the transition
  • Monitor the impact of the change on customers throughout the transition
  • Gauge the impact on the marketplace, in general
  • Understand customers' needs
  • Use the maps as a "binding agent" to bring the organizations together
  • Identify emerging trends, problems, etc.
  • Ensure no one or nothing falls through the cracks
Benefits or outcomes for the business include:
  • Reduced churn/saved customers
  • Strengthened relationships
  • Possible new business from existing customers
  • Process improvements
  • New features/product enhancements
  • Subsequent messaging to the marketplace about the transition (through the eyes of customers)
  • Recommendations or referrals from existing customers
The resultant company can be better for customers, as long as there is a concerted effort to make certain that is the ultimate outcome.

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. -Alan Watts


2 comments:

  1. There is always best practice in an organisation Annette. When two organisations join the "best practice" must get better.

    I guess the trick is to find it and do something about it.

    Maybe Customer Journey maps help with that

    James

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    Replies
    1. You're right... finding it really is the challenge. And finding it and having both organizations agree that it is the best practice might be equally as challenging. But the post is based on a client who used maps for this purpose, so this does work.

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