The Ultimate Merger and Acquisition Playbook for Customer Success [Infographic]
July 13, 2022
Overall, the key to managing the customer success journey when a client goes through a merger and acquisition is to be proactive, empathetic, and transparent. This helps to build trust and confidence with the customers and maintain their loyalty even during tough times.
The role of the customer success manager is critical in ensuring a smooth transition for customers during a merger or acquisition. By being proactive and maintaining a close relationship with the customers, the CSM can help mitigate any potential issues that arise during the integration process. The CSM should also remain transparent with the customer regarding any changes or updates that may impact their experience. This builds trust and ensures a positive customer experience during a potentially tumultuous time.
One of the most critical aspects of the customer this playbook is detecting the merger event early.
There are several ways that customer success managers can detect that their customer might have a merger happen:
- Communication: Customer success managers should maintain open communication with their customers and stay attuned to any updates or changes in their business operations. If a customer mentions that they are undergoing a merger or acquisition, the customer success manager can start asking more probing questions to get a more profound understanding of the situation.
- News and Industry Reports: Customer success managers should keep an eye on news and industry reports to get a sense of any potential mergers or acquisitions that may be in the works, particularly for customers in industries that are prone to consolidation.
- Changes in Customer Behavior: Mergers and acquisitions can have a significant impact on a company’s priorities and resources. Customer success managers should be on the lookout for changes in customer behavior, including changes in purchasing patterns or a lack of engagement with their product or service.
- Social Media: Companies often use social media to announce significant events like mergers and acquisitions, so customer success managers should keep an eye on their customers’ social media accounts for any announcements or hints about upcoming changes.
By staying attuned to these signals, customer success managers can proactively engage with their customers, providing support and guidance through the merger process, and helping to maintain a strong customer relationship.
Mergers Due Diligence & Discovery
Once the CSM detected the merger, it is important to carefully understand the nature of the event and how it might impact the client.
There are several types of mergers between companies, including:
- Horizontal merger: This occurs when two companies that are direct competitors merge to form one larger company.
- Vertical merger: This occurs when a company merges with a supplier or a customer, either backward or forward in the supply chain.
- Conglomerate merger: This involves two companies that do not have any direct relationship coming together. These mergers are usually done to diversify the business portfolio of the company.
- Market-extension merger: This is when two companies that sell similar products or services but in different markets come together to extend their market reach.
- Product-extension merger: This is when two companies that sell complementary products or services merge to offer a wider range of products to their customer base.
- Joint venture: This is a type of merger where two companies agree to work together on a specific project or business venture.
Customer success managers should understand what type of merger their client is going through because it can directly impact the client’s business and therefore their customer success strategies.
Different types of mergers, such as horizontal, vertical, or conglomerate, can affect the client’s operations, sales, and target market, which in turn may require changes to the client’s product, pricing, or support approach.
Knowing the type of merger can also help customer success managers anticipate potential challenges or opportunities that may arise from the merger, and thus adjust their customer success strategies accordingly.
Additionally, understanding the client’s merger can help customer success managers empathize and provide more personalized support to the client during the transition period.
Customer Success Managers should also get a clear understanding of the new organizational structure of the client after the merger. This will help the CSM identify who the key decision-makers are, and who will be involved in the decision-making process.
Finally, the CSM should take proactive action in getting to know the client’s new goals: Identify the client’s new goals and strategic priorities. This will help the CSM understand what the client needs to achieve in the short and long term, and how your product or service can help them achieve those goals.
How to Act
When a client goes through a merger, customer success managers (CSMs) it is important to show empathy to the situation and help your stakeholders above all else.
As a customer success manager, showing empathy to a client going through a merger is critical to help maintain a positive relationship with the client during this transitional period, reducing churn risk and uncovering cross-sell opportunities.
Here are some tips to show empathy to the client:
- Listen to their concerns: This is the time when the client might be anxious about how the merger will affect their business operations. Listening attentively to their concerns can help them feel heard and understood.
- Acknowledge their feelings: Let the client know that you understand how difficult the situation is for them. You can say something like “I can only imagine how unsettling this must be for you” or “I understand that this must be a challenging time for your company.”
- Offer solutions: If possible, offer solutions to the challenges they might be facing during the merger. This could include providing resources, connecting them with experts, or offering alternative solutions.
- Communicate regularly: Keep the client updated on any changes, whether internal or external. Communicating regularly with the client can help build trust and maintain a positive relationship.
- Follow up: Reach out to the client after the merger is completed or there is some resolution to see how they are doing and if there is anything else you can do to assist them.
Remember, the key to showing empathy is to be compassionate and understanding towards the client’s situation. Be patient, listen carefully, and show that you care about their concerns.
In addition, the CSM will need to be more proactive than ever, communicate more frequently and help the client reassess their technology needs:
- Communicate frequently: Keep in touch with the client regularly to ensure that they are aware of any developments or changes in your product or service. Similarly, keep track of any changes on their end that could affect how they use your product or service.
- Revisit the client’s current use cases: Given the changes that the client has gone through, it is important to reassess the ways in which they currently use your product or service. Work with your client to identify changes that need to be made, if any, and make sure that your product or service is aligned with the client’s new needs.
- Be proactive: Lastly, be proactive in identifying areas where your product or service can add value to the client’s new structure. Offer suggestions and ideas that can help the client achieve their new goals, and work with them to implement these changes.
Upselling a customer who is going through a merger can be a complex situation. It is significant to approach this situation with sensitivity and consideration for the customer’s needs.
First, you should understand the impact of the merger on the customer’s business. If the merger is causing uncertainty or financial stress, it may not be appropriate to try to upsell them on additional products or services.
However, if the merger is expected to result in growth and expansion, there may be opportunities to suggest complementary products or services that could benefit their new business.
It is important to approach the conversation tactfully and to focus on the value proposition of the additional products or services, rather than simply trying to make a sale. Be prepared to answer any questions the customer may have and listen to their concerns before making any recommendations.
Why download this infographic
CSMs or Customer Success Managers play a crucial role in ensuring that clients receive the best possible experience while using a company’s products or services.
When a client goes through a merger or acquisition, it can be a challenging time for them, and they may require additional support from their CSM.
This infographic can serve as a quick reference guide that outlines the best practices, strategies, and communication techniques that CSMs can use to help their clients navigate through the merger process smoothly.
By downloading it, CSMs can equip themselves with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide effective engagement during this time.
Ultimately, providing exceptional support to clients going through a merger can strengthen the relationship between the client and the company, resulting in increased trust, loyalty, and long-term success.
Preparing for a Merger and Acquisition?
Make sure it doesn’t hurt your customers. At CSM Practice, we can help your customer success team implement an effective program company-wide to understand your ever-evolving customers’ business needs. We’ll help you find ways to adjust your strategy to help your clients achieve their desired business outcomes through a positive customer experience. Contact us today.