We are two weeks out from the final season premiere of Game of Thrones — but if you’re anything like me then you knew that already. As we ramp up to the big day and scrutinize every tweet, interview, and insta from any cast member, I’m also looking back on the show for some professional guidance. At heart, the series has a lot to do with customer experience optimization — if you replace “customer experience” with “people of Westeros.” If this connection isn’t already obvious to you, by the end of this blog it will be. Hear me out.
The Mad King and Failure to Test
Game of Thrones begins after the usurpation of “The Mad King” by Robert Baratheon. But why was the Mad King so mad? He ruled at the end of a fierce and fiery dynasty, had the blood of the dragon, and the power of armies. But, despite all the strength that would suggest, he was completely out of touch with his people. In other terms: he never tested the efficacy or effects of his campaigns. Imagine creating a brand presence on all the right digital channels but neglecting to test how your campaigns perform in order to optimize performance. This is Aerys II Targaryen.
The Usurper and Minimal Testing
So, what happens? The “usurper” enters the game. Robert is certainly an improvement over Aerys II. He takes charge and has the wellbeing of his citizenry in mind, and he employs good Hands of the King (who operate a lot like testing solutions). At this point, Robert can see what causes revolt and what quells it. Beyond that though, he does nothing really to optimize the “customer experience.” Robert’s rule is kind of like doing A/B testing, but with a solution that slows down your interface, only tests client-side, or gives you only partial and unreliable data.
This is where really effective testing comes into the analogy. In order to provide the best customer experience — one that creates relationships and loyalties, drives conversions and brand awareness — you need the ability to experiment with solutions. Stuck in a world where your only choices are the Mad King and King Robert, your potential will be stunted by the very system you’re trying improve!
Daenerys Targaryen and Innovative Full-Stack Testing
Daenerys offers an alternative. She identifies a problem and is willing to try, fail, and try again to find her way. Ultimately this leads her to the enemy beyond the wall, and she would never have learned of that problem without listening to and experimenting with different solutions (#JonSnow). But she could only get there by operating outside of the rigidity of the traditional monarchy. Imagine if you could be the Daenerys of your brand. You could test anything at any time and track its effect; imagine the progress you could make. You would be able to try more innovative ideas without fear of failure. If customers don’t respond to a test, you can take that information and use it to enhance the elements that customers do respond to.
Your brand is your kingdom, and testing is how you create a stable and just rule. It doesn’t need to be as complicated the battle for the Iron Throne, as long as you have the tools to gather your most important information. In the game of customer experience optimization, you test wisely or you fail.