The COVID crisis has forced many organizations to operate reactionally since early this year. And while the crisis is by no means over, it has become the new normal in some ways. Which means it’s time to pause, take a breath, and make the transition from reactive to proactive thinking.
This week and next, we’re tackling the topic of defining the new normal for you and your customers in the time of COVID. This week, we’ll talk about the SWOT analysis as a tool for navigating the crisis with a big-picture mindset.
Companies who can respond effectively to the immediate crisis while simultaneously planning for the future will be the ones who land on their feet—and hit the ground running when it’s all said and done. A SWOT refresher can help you do both.
A SWOT analysis examines Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and Weaknesses are internal; Opportunities and Threats are external.
SWOT analyses are best done as a workshop; they’re the kind of analysis where brainstorming as a group tends to prompt more and better thinking from everyone involved. SWOT works best with input from stakeholders across the organization: For example, representatives from HR may have valuable insights on strengths (strong talent pipeline) or weaknesses (high turnover); key account managers can speak to client engagement; R&D will know your internal pipeline; marketing may have a good handle on competitive threats.
Of course, COVID has, among other things, disrupted our ability to host interactive workshops with multiple key stakeholders. But Zoom has effective mechanisms in the meantime, including breakout rooms. When the time comes to host your SWOT workshop, consider dividing up the team and letting each breakout room complete their own SWOT analysis, then share back to the broader group. You can learn from both the common denominators—what everyone includes—as well as the outliers.
The ultimate goal of a SWOT analysis isn’t just to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, but also to develop an action plan that harnesses your strengths and opportunities to address key weaknesses and threats. You can’t correct everything, but you can get it all out on the table and decide as a team what you’re going to prioritize in the coming year.
COVID: Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the first things you’ll want to examine here is your customer engagement. If you’ve been diligently investing in key accounts this whole time, you should find that your existing customer base is solid and reliable—and that’s a huge strength in an economic downturn. However, if you’ve been more focused on landing new business vs growing existing accounts, you may find that (a) your pipeline has dwindled in the recession, and (b) your existing accounts are at risk of churn. That’s definitely a weakness, but the good news is, it’s not too late.
For companies who identify customer engagement as a weakness, the next move is to see how you can double down on existing accounts in the next few months. How can you reallocate resources? What tech makes sense in this context? (Hint: It’s not your CRM.) To learn more about how to prioritize customer engagement in a recession, check out this recent post.
Another important internal strength or weakness to consider is your own agility as a company. Are you able to respond rapidly to changes in your own or your customers’ needs? Smaller companies may find size is an asset in this environment, whereas larger companies may find it more difficult to be light on their feet.
COVID: Threats and Opportunities
COVID is clearly an external force. As such, it falls on organizations to consider the opportunities and threats it presents.
The threats are clear: Major disruptions in the economy. Reduced spending in both the consumer and B2B worlds. Not to mention potential health risks for your team, depending on the kind of work you do (for example, if you run a meat processing facility), and even potential burnout for employees who are parents of young children, working from home with limited child care.
But what are the opportunities? If business is slow, but you have enough savings or grant/loan funds to keep paying your staff, perhaps you can take this time for some concentrated technology upskilling. Assign different cohorts to different enterprise platforms, with the goal of adding to every person’s tech proficiency so you can work more efficiently down the road, or offer more sophisticated POVs to your customers. Or cast a wider net, using this time for professional development in general.
Another major opportunity is that COVID has forced many companies to shift to remote work—suddenly and completely. Many organizations are surprised by how well it works—and also by the specific questions and challenges that come up. The COVID crisis is a chance to refine your remote work policies and practices. Gather some key stakeholders from your organization to reflect on what’s worked well, and what you miss about the office, with the goal of creating a plan moving forward that makes the most of facetime and remote time. Among other things, you may find an opportunity to boost employee satisfaction and retention—while mitigating your carbon footprint—over the long haul.
Updating SWOT for Your Customers
You should be updating your SWOT, and if you’re a B2B product or service provider, you should be reaching out to your key accounts to conduct a SWOT update with them, too. Here’s what we suggest: Run an internal SWOT update to spark ideas, talk through some global implications of the crisis, and get the gears turning so you’re warmed up and ready to add value in your customer-facing SWOT. You can also practice the Zoom nuances (breakout rooms, etc) so you’re able to conduct a more seamless online workshop when the time comes.
Your SWOT analysis has changed, and as a result, so have your strategic priorities. The same is true for your customers, and the more you know about their situation, the better you can proactively address their weaknesses and threats. This is one way to build your own customer engagement—which, remember, is a huge strength in an economic downturn.
For Kapta users, updating your customer SWOT will be seamless—just use the built-in SWOT tool. The output of your workshop will then remain visible to the entire team as they work through new action items for your clients.
COVID is changing everything—but that doesn’t mean the same systematic approach to problem-solving that’s always served you and your customers won’t also serve you now. So take a breath, step into the new normal, and revisit your own SWOT analysis—then reach out to your customers to do the same for them. They’ll appreciate your proactivity, and you’ll come out of it with clear strategic objectives for the year ahead. To see how Kapta can help you build a SWOT analysis for your customers, schedule a personal demo today.