In 2010, DreamWorks Animation, the studio that created the movies Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, wondered if it made sense to produce all of their 3D movies in-house from inception. The studio had the movie-making talent and catalog of animation characters. And 3D movies were very popular with moviegoers. But was 3D just an expensive fad that patrons would no longer be able to afford with the recession? And if revenue continued to fall, what would happen to their stock price and business reputation? DreamWorks performed a SWOT analysis to determine if their movie production direction was correct.
SWOT is an acronym: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It is a decision making tool, pioneered in the 1960’s to examine strategic planning for companies. However, the same principals can be used to evaluate your CX.
The process is straightforward. You define your goal, and then identify the factors that will impact your goal. You identify the factors by asking questions for each of the four areas. This process reveals helpful and harmful factors from internal and external sources.
In my last two articles, we explored the processes to gather feedback from users on a calendaring system. Now we’ll examine how a fictional company could use SWOT to analyze the CX of their calendaring system. We’ll call this company Syncro Magik.
Strengths are the capabilities and resources in your company that enable you to create a great CX. Ask yourself, what advantages or features does your product or service have? What can do you do better than anyone else? How do you address customer issues? What do your customers perceive as your strengths?
For example, Syncro Magik regularly runs contextual inquiries to learn how their customers use calendars in real life. They conduct usability tests to observe how customers use their products. And they just hired a VP of CX.
Weaknesses are the gaps in in your CX. Do you conduct the user research you need to make informed decisions about your roadmap? Are you missing a key feature that your competitors provide? Do you lack the talent, budget, time, or technology to implement that missing feature? Where do your customers get frustrated or confused when using your product or service?
Syncro Magik has run contextual inquiries only in established companies with large IT departments, and not in any start-ups. And users can’t sync data with MS Outlook or Google Calendar.
Now let’s turn to external factors, which your company can’t control. Opportunities are favorable circumstances that can improve your CX, including technology, emerging markets, mergers, demographics, or social media. What innovations in technology will enable you to provide a better and more cost effective service? What are the trending services that your company can provide?
Syncro Magik partnered with a university, where students can manage their class schedules and homework with the mobile app. They outsourced their help desk agents to reduce costs, and now can afford extended hours. And they will offer free beta trials to users through their social media site.
Threats are external factors that could undermine your CX. What are your competitors doing to improve their CX, and thus make your CX look outdated or limited? Where can technology cause frustrations or problems for your product or service? Does your help desk vendor provide a 24-hour emergency phone number?
Students crashed the server when they all tried to download the Syncro Magik application on the first day of class. A competing calendar app is getting better reviews in iTunes, and they’re offering 50% off when a customer purchases a year’s subscription.
Now it’s time to analyze the data. There are many techniques, but here are two key methods. First, identify alignments between your strengths and opportunities. For example, you provide a new service (strength) that none of your competitors offer (opportunity). Second, convert weaknesses and threats into strengths and opportunities. Maybe you can’t offer 50% off, but you can offer a freemium model that has convinced 40% of your free user to convert to a paid subscription.
The SWOT analysis helped DreamWorks realize that their strengths and opportunities would overcome their weaknesses and threats. They continued with their business model, and have grossed over $13 billion worldwide. And SWOT can help you assess your ability to reach your CX goals. Once you have analyzed the data, you can create your roadmap to improve your CX. Or you can define the business case for making the changes.
About the Author
Wendy Eichenbaum has been a UX professional since the early-1990’s. She began her career as a technical writer. She then earned a Master of Arts in Professional Writing at Carnegie Mellon University, studying both writing and UI design. Over the years, she has worked across verticals, from start-ups to multi-national firms, in many areas of UX including research & strategy, Information Architecture, usability testing, and focus groups. She started her own UX consulting firm in 2008, Ucentric Design. And she is an adjunct professor at Cal State University, Fullerton. There she teaches a class that she created, User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces.