Are you acquiring new locations to add to your business? Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are increasingly common in the US market with 2017 setting a record year in M&A growth. Building a clear communications system strategy can greatly improve the M&A process. Every location you acquire will have its own phone system and call flows. A strategy ensures each new location can quickly communicate with everyone else in the company with minimal hassle and every call is handled in the same way.
M&A is difficult- here are three ways to improve your acquisition.
1. Reduce Your Monthly Telco Costs
Monthly telco bills offer a great opportunity to reduce expenses across all of your sites. There are several possible wins here depending on your needs and priorities.
First, consider consolidating services around a central service delivery model. In this scenario, individual locations don’t have separate phone lines. All phone service is consolidated to a central company location and then calls are redirected to individual sites based on the phone number called. The reality is that no store location needs all of their phone lines for most of the day. Service is generally scaled for peak usage. This means you can drastically reduce costs by serving the peak out of a central set of phone lines. Modern Voice Over IP (VOIP) technology makes this easy and the result is major cost reductions. To learn more click here.
Another option is to transition all services to a cloud telephone service. Cloud phone service bundles the cost for long-distance and phone charges into the same bill. This can eliminate costs for phone lines while upgrading each location’s services. This can be done without major CAPEX expenditures, just a new monthly bill. Cloud phone service can be had for very reasonable costs and the result may be lower than your current service.
There are specific concerns to consider. One is to make sure your locations all have quality internet connections that will guarantee call quality. Voice is a bandwidth intensive application that requires very real-time responsiveness to your internet. It’s about more than just having a “big pipe”. There are a number of other factors to your connection and usage that must be assessed. Vertical can help with that if you want to consider cloud phone service.
The end result when you put phone consolidation high on your list is better customer communication, new employees who are better integrated to the company and LOWER total costs all around. This can be one of the big wins from your M&A strategy.
2. Consolidate Your Phone Routing
A quick way to make a newly acquired location part of your organization is to move their outward-facing phone numbers onto your service. This can be the first step in consolidating phone service or moving to cloud service, but it can be done without either of those steps. It can also be a way to bring new capabilities to an existing store.
By moving the phone number you can apply your standardized corporate call flow to the store. This can have several advantages, including:
- Rebrand the store to the new corporate identity. Play an announcement to the caller announcing the acquisition and delivering your corporate value proposition.
- Offer new services the single store never had. Your larger organization may offer better support options, new products or department, new centralized services, and much more. Take this opportunity to tell the customer about it and give them the ability to get to those resources.
- Provide access to other locations. The key advantage that can be provided is more locations to service and support the customer. Offer the ability to connect with other stores.
- Improve time to answer. A classic problem is answering customers quickly. By redirecting the phone number and using modern phone routing, you can use other locations to take customer calls or send everything to a central customer service team. Take advantage of the increased scope and scale of the organization by improving the level of customer service offered quickly. Rerouting the local store number doesn’t mean that the store can’t still take calls. Calls can be sent back to the store as needed, however this solution greatly expands the services and solutions offered to customers with minimal effort.
3. Build a Common Dial Plan
This simple change can be extremely powerful in facilitating the success of an acquisition. Some of the major problems faced in an acquisition include resistance to change, force of habit, and lack of communication. Changing the dial plan addresses all of these issues. It minimizes resistance to change by hiding the change from view. It plays into force of habit by continuing to use the existing habits to contact the new departments. Finally, it actually enhances communication by making it easier to contact new organizations. One of the toughest parts of adding new locations is making the existing employees feel like a part of the organization. Adjusting the dial plan makes this transition much easier. The goal here is to repoint internal extensions at the new location to the new internal departments. If you are consolidating accounting, HR, IT and other departments, then this step makes it easy for your new staff to adjust to the change. Rather than giving them a new number to call, the goal here is to redirect existing numbers to the new department location. If the employees are used to dialing extension 2150 for IT, leave that number in place, but redirect it to the new consolidated IT team.
This can be accomplished by painstakingly reprogramming each location’s legacy phone system to call forward to a new number. Ideally, the system can bridge calls using VoIP to the rest of your company. Worst case, an external call-forward (which might have associated cost or trunk usage) can be used. A better answer might be to transition all sites to a new centralized or cloud solution while leaving local dial plans in place. This makes the whole process much easier.
Bringing It All Together
In the middle of onboarding new locations, your telephone strategy may not spring to the top of the list, but as we have seen, it can greatly reduce costs, improve customer service, and increase employee buy-in. You may have too much going on to focus on your telephony strategy. Vertical Communications is an expert who can help you design the right strategy to support your multi-location network and improve the process of building a stronger centralized company. Contact us today.