Lemmings – What does the retro computer game have to do with making business more profitable?

Firstly… if you’re not old enough to know what this game is, go google it & play it for a few hours.

*Actually, everyone go download this game. There’s a mobile version you can download to your phone if you don’t have an Amiga lying around & you deserve a day off (you could put it down as a research day, honestly, the game will teach you a lot above progression through proper strategy).

The 1991 critter rescuing computer game can teach us a lot about the importance of retaining our customers. As the green haired characters drop out of the sky into the platform, the player is required to build, dig, explode, block or climb various obstacles to get to the exit without being blown up or splattered on the floor. The aim of the game? Get a certain percentage of them to the other side & you get to go on to the next level.

Now imagine your business is you as a 12 year old playing Lemmings & the lemmings are your customers. You WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING to figure out the puzzles (good strategy), save as many Lemmings as you can (get lots of customers) & get through to the next level (earn more money) right?! Kill too many of them & you’re stuck in the same place, getting increasingly frustrated until you finally give up.You throw your controller at a wall in utter despair, slam your door in a huff & stomp down the stairs with your arms folded to see what you can find in the fridge to make you feel better. Business doesn’t have to be like that. There are a few different options of game play when it comes to rescuing these little guys, as there is in your business:

  1. Do nothing. The lemmings all drown, set on fire, splat from great heights OR the time runs out. Each way, you lose.
  2. Hit & Hope. Assign the optional moves at random times that look about right & hope most of them find their way to where you want them to go.
  3. STRATEGISE. Pause the game at the beginning. Scan the time, map, the tools you have available, how many lemmings you need to lose to win & come up with a plan of action that will effectively help as many of your lemmings get to the exit & help you move up to the next level.Which one of the above do you relate to the way you approach your existing customers?

In your business, increasing customer retention by 5% (getting enough lemmings to the exit) can increase profits 25% – 95% (getting to the next level). Most businesses I speak to approach their existing customer base with the 1st strategy, sending their customers into the lava pit. What’s the lava pit? The competitor.

Customers need guidance & if you don’t strategise to take care of them once they’ve transacted with you, they will roam around aimlessly like lemmings & likely find their way somewhere that not only you don’t want them to go, but that also won’t help you reach the next level in business. Go play & let me know what you learned about strategy from it.

If you like this article & would like to hear more, I wrote an Ebook called ‘Your Customer Service is Awful’ to help you understand the importance of customer retention (& other things) as part of your marketing strategy.


Download it here to learn more, receive other silly stories, tips and ever insightful emails about how to stop being awful.

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