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Using a SWOT Analysis to Improve Customer Service Performance

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As I train all my Pinnacle Performance clients, effectively improving an organization’s customer service effort should begin with an honest evaluation of the organization’s current performance to establish a baseline from which improvements can be addressed.

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One of the best ways to do this is to perform a customer service SWOT analysis to gain a clear understanding of how your organization is currently performing – strengths and weaknesses in customer service and what opportunities and threats exist that could help, or hinder, your efforts to increase sales and market share.

As a strategic planning management tool, a SWOT analysis evaluates the 4 areas represented by the letters of the name:

S = Strengths
W = Weaknesses
O = Opportunities
T = Threats

The SWOT analysis process is as follows:

Strengths:
What customer service strengths exist now? To help determine this, focus on the perspective of what customers and the market (competitors, the industry) consider as your organization’s primary customer service strengths. In addition, what competitive differentiators exist? These are areas in which your organization is more unique (faster, better, more cost-effective) than the competing companies your potential customers may also shop.

Weaknesses:

What customer service weaknesses exist now? It’s critical to be honest in assessing this area. Again, focus should be from the viewpoint of what customers and the market consider as your organization’s primary customer service shortcomings. These are your competitive disadvantages.

Opportunities:

What opportunities exist? Opportunities are potential future strengths. What opportunities does your company have to use its customer service strength to increase sales and market share?

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Threats:
What threats exist? Threats are potential future weaknesses. What threats imposed by competitors and/or the market does your organization face? What are the consequences if your customer service effort does not effectively combat these threats?

In summary:

· Strengths need to be effectively maintained, built upon and maximized.
· Weaknesses need to be effectively remedied or eliminated.
· Opportunities need to be effectively prioritized and optimized.
· Threats need to be effectively countered or minimized.

Once the SWOT analysis is complete, an action plan should be created to address each of the four areas and improve performance.

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