Using a SWOT Analysis to Understand Where You Are Today
Before a call center creates a strategic plan, mission or vision, one of the first activities should be to conduct a Strengths-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis. This activity requires all persons involved to be honest with themselves since areas of vulnerability will be discussed openly so that the organization is stronger in the future.
Often, a SWOT analysis is conducted with a leader on a whiteboard or some sort of display board. A big square is drawn on the sheet of paper. Then a line from the top to the bottom cuts the square in half and a line from left to right cuts the square into four equal pieces.
This creates a two-by-two matrix on the display. In the upper left-hand corner is where Strengths are listed. Weaknesses are listed in the upper right hand box. The bottom =left area is for Opportunities and the bottom-right quadrant is for Threats. The person, or group, then begins to list all of the items under each category.
It is usually easier to start with Strengths listing all of the items that your call center has as strengths, and ideally, unique strengths. Then comes the Weakness section. Where is your center weak? Be honest about this.
Then move to Opportunities. Opportunities is where, with a little change, the call center can improve its operation, expand its operation, or offer a different set of services.
The Threat section is where the items that most threaten the current call center operations are listed and any threats to acting on the Opportunities area.
Knowing the SWOT for your call center is a starting point to build on your strengths and minimize the weakness while at the same time taking advantage of the opportunities while being aware of the threats.
After such an exercise, I encourage my clients to summarize the SWOT analysis and print it out on a standard sheet of paper and post it on their wall near their desk. This way this information and self-aware knowledge is available all the time before making key strategic decisions for the center.
Completing a SWOT each year enables a call center to see if it is making progress to minimizing weaknesses and threats while expanding upon its strengths and taking advantage of the opportunities.