4 ways Game of Thrones teaches us about customer experience

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By Nicola van de Velde on

It’s been a couple years since the completion of HBO’s hugely successful series, Game of Thrones. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry: We won’t spoil the ending for you! Instead, we’d like to share some surprising wisdom that the series’ characters impart about customer experience.

Admittedly, the series is chock-full of advice you shouldn’t take (we’re certain that Stannis Baratheon has some regrets in the Melisandre department), and fending off ice zombies isn’t really something you have to deal with. Still, here’s 4 customer experience lessons you can learn from watching Game of Thrones (spoilers ahead!):

1. The contents of a man’s letters are more valuable than the contents of his purse

In the cutthroat world of Westeros, where everyone is always plotting something, one master of whisperers reigns supreme: Lord Varys aka the Spider. Thanks to his web of spies, or “little birds” as he calls them, he knows pretty much all the secrets in the realm. He’s definitely your go-to guy if you’re looking to make some calculated decisions.

Though not a matter of life and death, gathering data can help you spot problems in your service delivery. And sharing knowledge will certainly benefit your customer’s experience too. Especially if you use the wisdom of the crowd and implement KCS.

2. Know what a man wants, and you’ll know how to control him

Having statistics and measurements in place is a good start to improving your services. But if we look at Daenerys, she teaches us that true power lies in the voice of the customer – which she learned the hard way.

Sure, Dany cares deeply for people, making it her personal mission to free any slaves she comes across on her way to King’s Landing. But is a free man a happy one in Westeros? Apparently not always. Some freed slaves were extremely unhappy in their new situation. They now had no place to go, and no means to look after themselves.

So, even if you think you’re doing the right thing, and you’re offering what you believe to be an awesome customer experience, it’s important to figure out what your customers really want. Customer journey mapping is a great way to take the guesswork out of your services and view your services through your customers’ eyes. Wouldn’t you love a Warg like Bran on your team?

3. The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives

The minute you’re born in Westeros (quite literally, if you’re Ramsay Bolton’s sibling), someone could be plotting to have you stabbed. Or poisoned. Or burnt at the stake. You catch my drift. Did I mention it’s a harsh world out there?

Your best bet to stay alive (for a while a least) is to team up with another house. In season 7, the heaviest hitters in the realm even propose a truce in order to work together with a single purpose: defeat the army of the undead bearing down from the North.

Alright, it’s not like you’ve got an ice dragon waiting to huff, puff and blast down the wall of your service desk. But if your service departments team up and implement Enterprise Service Management, you’ll pave the way for a great customer experience. Why? Because it makes your customer’s life a lot easier if they only have to contact one service point or portal for all their questions.

4. Jon Snow does know something

When Jon Snow learned that the Wildlings were fleeing from the White Walkers, he made an important decision: to open the gates to Castle Black and welcome the Wildlings with open arms. Was it the right thing to do? Perhaps. But some members from the Night’s Watch were less than impressed. And in Westeros, being less than impressed means you’re a dead man (albeit temporarily).

What Jon didn’t realize, was that you need to manage people’s expectations. How were his men supposed to know that he’s such a compassionate guy when they elected him?

One very effective way for your service desk to manage expectations and be more transparent is through a Service Catalog.

Jon Snow has some words of wisdom about transparency, which your service desk can also take to heart: “When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything, and there are no more answers – only better lies and lies.” Well said Jon.

If all else fails, get a dragon 🐉

Take it from Cersei: “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die”. So, pay those spies, become a Warg, team up with other houses and befriend the Wildlings – and your service desk might just make it to the Iron Throne. And if all your customer experience efforts fail? You can always get a dragon.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: What valuable service desk lessons did you learn from Game of Thrones?

Nicola van de Velde


Photo of Nicola van de Velde