Can customer service help a company increase market share? Well, if relying upon market information to gain a competitive advantage is part of growing a company’s share of its market, then yes, a company’s customer service can play a vital role. The mechanism that improves customer service is a customer service SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. So, what are the steps to benefiting from this unique adoption of the SWOT analysis?
The idea behind the customer service SWOT analysis is to use market information about how customers see the company’s customer service abilities. It’s about assessing how the market and its customers view the company’s strengths & weaknesses in customer service, and what opportunities and threats are present that could help, or hinder, a company’s attempt to increase market share. Every market provides essential information on what customer service approaches to adopt. The key is to listen to what these customers, and the market itself, are saying.
Using a SWOT analysis is pretty straightforward. The simplest approach is to take a grid and divide it into four quadrants. Name each quadrant a different portion of the SWOT analysis with one for strengths, one for weaknesses, and so on. Focus on how the market views the company’s service strengths, or lack thereof. Unhappy customers means the company loses out on customer loyalty and market share. Happy customers means the company is doing a better job of customer retention and growing its market share. Therefore, approach the analysis from the customers’ view of the company’s service abilities. The questions should be centered around those changes that must be made in order to improve the company’s service capabilities.
In this portion of the SWOT analysis, it’s best to focus on what the market and customers see as the company’s main customer service strengths. In every market, there are market followers and market leaders. Companies today rely less upon whether they are first, or last to market, but instead concentrate on approaching the market at the right time. However, in customer service, an argument can easily be made that those companies that are service leaders, always win the day. Therefore, what are the company’s main strengths in customer service from the viewpoint of its customers and the company’s market? Make a list and put this in the quadrant for strengths.
While most companies are able to identify their customer service weaknesses, a number of companies lack the ability to be honest enough with their own limitations. Therefore, to ensure that this is not a problem, it’s ideal to focus this portion of the customer service SWOT analysis on the company’s customer service issues directly from the view of the market and its customers. Sales and customer service personnel should have no problems coming up with a list of customer issues. The impetus must be on identifying the company’s weaknesses in customer service without asking the company to go beyond its service strategies and scope of abilities.
What opportunities does the company have to use its customer service to increase market share? Are there new opportunities in the market because the company’s competition has decided to cut back on a key service they were providing? Has this decision impacted the competitor’s customers in a negative way? Are customers generally upset with the service levels of competitors and if so, how can the company use this to improve customer service and increase market share? Opportunities come in many forms. Concentrate this portion of the analysis on those competitor decisions the company can capitalize on.
This portion of the SWOT analysis must focus on those threats to the company should it not improve its service capabilities. In essence, for the company to grow its market share means it must be able to identify the threats of not acting. Questions should be focused on internal issues within the company, and the external influences imposed by competitors. For instance, has the company’s competitors recently implemented a new customer service strategy that could pose a threat to the company? Have customers been looking for a service upgrade, but no company in the market has been willing to accommodate these requests? If the company were to finally adopt this upgrade, what would it mean for its market share?
When it comes to using a customer service SWOT analysis to increase market share, focus in on the most common issues the company’s customer service department faces. Improving customer service is as much about identifying, and rectifying internal issues, as it is capitalizing on the lack of service capabilities of competitors within the market. The best and brightest companies use the SWOT analysis to identify those obvious issues that need correcting, and to improve upon those approaches that produce results.
Chess picture courtesy of jasonwebber01 of Morguefile
The author has over 16 years experience as a consultant in sales and production