Become a Service Maester: 5 Customer Care Lessons From Game of Thrones


Everyone is excited for Game of Thrones to be back. Can you draw some customer service lessons from it? It's no spoiler to say yes. 

This Sunday, after a punishingly long wait (though not as long as it has been for book readers), HBO’s genre-defying superhit Game of Thrones is coming back. We’re all ready to catch up on the (remaining) Starks, the (remaining) Lannisters, the (remaining) Targaryen, the dragons, and everyone else. Even Sam. Especially Sam.

If you’re like us, it’s been capturing your mind, and you find yourself humming the theme song and imagining how you’d do in Westeros (spoiler: poorly). Perhaps more than that, you’re wondering if Game of Thrones has any lessons for your day-to-day life, other than “side with the person who has dragons”. 

We can’t claim there is an exact parallel between a song of fire and ice and a song of customer care, but there are some lessons to be drawn from how the characters relate to and communicate with each other. Customer care mistakes can be extremely costly. They might not get you booted from the Iron Throne, but they will damage your reputation and your business. So play to win.

(This post obviously contains some spoilers)

Lesson #1: Don’t think you’ve got it all under control. Things happen.

In Game of Thrones, most of the events are set in motion by the devious machinations of Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger. He came from a minor family, but wants the crown, and is willing to let the whole world burn and millions die just to get it. The problem is, things spiral out of control, and even though he still seems to be playing the game, it doesn’t seem like he has a handle on it. People he thought he was controlling are showing a lot of independence. It’s awesome.

The Lesson: Let your customer care representatives know it is ok to ask for help. We all get into situations where we want to believe that we have it under control, and that if we just talk for a little bit we can get a handle on it. Customers want the right answer. Don’t just get things done quickly A recent Gallup poll showed that customers are 9 times as likely to be happy when a representative is engaged, and not just trying to speed through things. Your employees should know that while speed and efficiency are important, it is more important to satisfy the needs of the customer, and if that means asking for help, they should. Chaos in customer care is never actually a ladder.

Lesson #2: Knowledge is the most important weapon of all.

This is actually super heroic

OK, you might think swords or dragons are the most important weapon, and so far, you’d be right. But Sam Tarly, who is not a knight but is braver than most, knows he has to learn how to kill the White Walkers. He know that all the swords in the world won’t do good against these snow zombies, and that going through the books to find ancient ways will be mankind’s only hope.

The Lesson: Training is key. You want your representative to be as prepared as possible before heading into the field, which of course is the call center. That might not be as dramatic, but it makes a real impact on the lives of your customers and clients. So give them the right training. Consult your subject matter experts. Learn from previous experiences, good and bad. Have older employees share their wisdom. There is incredible knowledge in your team and company. Use it.

Lesson #3: Bad behavior can poison your reputation

Don’t do this.

Nobody really liked Kong Joffrey, and for good reason. He was super unlikable. Even at his own wedding, he belittled people, taunted the girl whose father he killed, and generally acted like the sniveling sadistic brat he was. And he got poisoned at his wedding, and most people seemed generally relieved.

The Lesson: People remember bad customer service far more than they remember good service. 45% of people share bad experiences on social media, as opposed to 30% who share good experiences. And honestly, bad experiences tend to be fuller stories, with more drama (if Joffrey was a good king no one would care about the story). They are more memorable. You remember someone’s bad story about terrible customer care far more than you remember someone saying “I called and they solved my problem.” Word of mouth can poison your reputation, so make sure that every call and every interaction is treated with the respect it deserves.

Lesson #4: Keep your promises

This is not a great wedding

OK, there is a serious spoiler here if you aren’t familiar. If you’re about to start the books or the show, skip this section. Robb Stark is engaged in a political marriage to the daughter of the vile Walder Frey, but Robb falls in love with someone else, so has a cousin marry the daughter. At the wedding, Robb and his entire family are murdered by Frey, who turned to Robb’s enemies on account of the betrayal (also because he was awful).

The Lesson: Don’t make promises you can’t, or won’t, keep. That’s part of the customer service and marketing loop. Marketing shouldn’t oversell, or portray one of your products or services in a way that isn’t correct. That’s usually an innocent mistake, which is why customer care and marketing should be in communication. Make sure they are on the same page, and that marketing understands what customer are thinking. That way, there won’t be promises left unmet. I’m not saying it will be Red Wedding bad, but it’s pretty close. On a business level.

Lesson #5: Get help from the best

Spoiler: this is awesome

So, Daenerys Targaryen needed a few things: ships to get to Westeros, an army to help her take back the Seven Kingdoms, and political advisors who knew how to rule. So she got ships from the Greyjoys, the Unsullied and the Dothraki as soldiers, and Tyrion and Varys as advisors. That’s pretty good! She couldn’t do it all herself, and she certainly wasn’t going to get scrubs, so the Mother of Dragons went with the best. Now we’ll see what happens.

The Lesson: You can’t do everything on your own, which is why a lot of companies are partnering with third-party customer care experts. Using these vendors is a great way to share expertise: yours in your business and theirs in every aspect of customer care. It is important to find a team that embraces technology, employs industry-best training practices, has incredible employee retention rates, and truly works with you as a partner.  

Winter is coming, as they say. But it doesn’t have to be for your business. Working with the right customer care partners can make sure that if you play the Game of Thrones, you win.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

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RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.