Customer communication vital to successful mergers

Businesses large and small may decide to merge as a means of saving money, streamlining processes and positioning for future growth. However, many neglect to communicate these changes to customers and consequently decrease customer satisfaction.

For companies focused on business to customer sales, the best way to retain and even improve the customer experience is to regularly communicate company changes and explain how individual accounts may be affected. This will alleviate anxiety among customers and decrease the likelihood of frustration and confusion causing them to seek out another company.

Stay on top of it

Dan Kiely, CEO of VoxPro, explained the importance of communicating with customers while undergoing a merger in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

“Maintaining quality customer experience, we found, requires a mix of expert individuals and operational processes,” he wrote. Adding later, “all too often, poorly managed systems migrations-or uncoordinated actions-can lead to miscommunications with customers.”

As customer databases and websites are updated and integrated, it’s imperative that companies continually update both new and old customers about how their experience may be impacted. Businesses can send emails to all customers and target other correspondence to smaller groups to address specific needs. By employing technology, the company saves time and money, while the customers have easy access to the information at their convenience.

Real world merger failure

Online customer service isn’t the only concern companies should have when merging. They also need to consider their individual brand identities and ongoing competition from other companies and how that directs customer satisfaction.

For example, in 2008 fast food restaurants Wendy’s and Arby’s merged in an effort for each to reach a larger portion of the marketplace. The merger meant that Wendy’s purchased Arby’s, but both restaurants kept their own brands.

The attempts to expand their offerings and broaden interest did little to drive up sales for either the Dublin-based Wendy’s or Arby’s, headquartered in Atlanta. The failure of this merger was partially attributed to competition from restaurants like Subway and Burger King. In 2011, Arby’s was sold to another firm with Wendy’s continuing to have a stake in the company. The merger is considered among the worst, according to The Huffington Post.

Successful merger continuing to grow business

Although bringing together a pair of well-known fast food restaurant didn’t work, other mergers have been more successful. The combining of Exxon and Mobil in 1999 continues to show strength in setting prices and driving down competition in the oil industry. The companies sell at more than 2,400 gas stations across the U.S. and their merging is considered one of the most successful by Yahoo! Business News.

ExxonMobil has generated massive profits for shareholders and company leadership while decreasing competition.

Michele Cuthbert is the CEO and creator of Baker Creative, a global WBE-certified creative brand management firm based in Ohio.