Time to Kill a Customer Experience Snake


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Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?! 

I was recently reminded of that famous quote by Indiana Jones from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Recall that he absolutely hates snakes; they’re not exactly my favorite creature, either. When I came across Jim Barksdale‘s Three Rules of Business, I laughed with that movie quote in mind; nonetheless, I think I like his reference to snakes. Sounds bizarre? Read on.

A little background. Jim is the former president and CEO of Netscape, and he’s well known for some of the interesting things he says – many of his sayings or quotables include references to animals, and they are all thought-provoking. Here’s one, just to get you thinking: In a fight between a bear and an alligator, it is the terrain which determines who wins.

So, back to his Three Rules of Business, which he established while at Netscape. The rules tell us how to kill a snake, metaphorically; when he says “snake,” he’s referring to a problem.

The Three Rules are:   

  1. If you see a snake, don’t call committees, don’t call your buddies, don’t form a team, don’t get a meeting together, just kill the snake.
  2. Don’t go back and play with dead snakes. Too many people waste too much time on decisions that have already been made.
  3. All opportunities start out looking like snakes. Look at problems as if they are opportunities. Opportunities arise out of solving problems.

Rather than thinking about the snakes as problems, let’s dig a little deeper, get to the root cause, and think of them as processes and policies. You know the ones I’m referring to: the ones that increase customer effort and decrease efficiency of steps customers go through to achieve what they are trying to achieve with your business. So many companies are overrun by cumbersome policies and processes that hinder not only the customer experience but also their employees’ ability to do their jobs efficiently and effectively or to deliver a great customer experience.

Do you have old, outdated, or unnecessary processes that customers go through to accomplish a simple task? Do you need examples? How about that antiquated phone tree on your IVR system? Or the dozen clicks that customers need to go through to purchase an item on your website? Or the multiple calls that need to be made to get an issue resolved? Or the search for a phone number just to call your support line? Or your return process? I could keep going.

Where are your snakes? And what rules does your company have to kill them? Or do you just step around them to avoid their bite?


In case you’ve never seen Raiders of the Lost Ark and don’t know the reference to snakes, here’s the scene. 

When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves. -Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Annette Franz
Annette Franz is founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey Inc. She is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She has 25+ years of experience in helping companies understand their employees and customers in order to identify what makes for a great experience and what drives retention, satisfaction, and engagement. She's sharing this knowledge and experience in her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).


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