The 73 year old lady and an unexpected customer service lesson


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World of Warcraft

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to James Dodkins on his Rockstar CX podcast.

As a precursor to the show, James asked me to collect 3 different articles in the week approaching the interview that I had noticed and that had interested me.

So, in the run up to our chat, I did just that and after a bit of a net trawl I uncovered three pieces.

One of the articles I found was entitled Customer service specialist calls 73-year-old woman and gets more than he bargains for in the best possible way.

James and I talk about it here:

James Dodkins Rockstar CX podcast

Now, the reason I picked that article was that it involved a conversation between a customer service rep and a 73 year old lady and, via the conversation, the rep discovered that the lady was an expert World of Warcraft video gamer.

She goes on to say that she plays “every day, ten to twelve hours” and would rather “slay monsters than knit like some old lady.”

Interestingly, she went on to add that she started gaming 8 years ago when her grandson got posted to Afghanistan and that she and her sister used the game as a means of keeping in touch with her grandson.

Towards the end of the conversation, she proudly boasts that she is now better that her grandson at the game and he really doesn’t like it.

Not what you would have expected.


This story reminded me of another piece that I wrote back in 2014 called: Customer behaviour is changing: Check your assumptions, where I questioned some of the assumptions that we make when we design and build experiences for customers and how those assumptions can both cause us problems and mean that we miss opportunities.

Assumptions like:

  • Our attention spans are getting shorter – Are they? I mean do we have an attention span shorter than a goldfish? Particularly when the length of feature films are going up and we are happy to throw ourselves into an hours long marathon gaming session. Or, could it be that we getting less tolerant of things that are not valuable, not helpful, not relevant or not interesting to us?
  • Sex, drugs and rock and roll are the domain of the youth – Are they? Recent research suggests that many young people are eschewing alcohol and drugs and that the age groups with the highest and fastest growing incidence of abuse fall in the 50-65+ year old bracket.
  • Video games are played by spotty male teenagers – Well, the above story should cause us to question that assumption. However, research conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau in September 2014 found that, in the UK, women now account for the majority of video game players, and there are more gamers aged over 44 than under 18.

I hope that highlighting these assumptions and presenting some data that undermines them causes you to stop and consider what assumptions that you are making about your customers.

As Alan Alda once said:

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won’t come in.”



Photo Credit: deadcommander Flickr via Compfight cc

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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