What Dexter teaches us about startups

In the awesome TV show Dexter Harry Morgan, a Detective, adopts a son, Dexter, who later becomes a textbook psychopath in which Harry then decided to teach the wayward Dexter how to manage his illness by a set of specific rules. While the show has its ‘only in Hollywood’ moments it’s a soon to be classic and there are some awesome lessons to be extrapolated and learned from the way Harry taught Dexter how to tame his dark passenger. Although these lessons could translate directly into learning other skills, for the purpose of this post, I want to centralize it to customer service & startup culture.

Never get caught

If you’re a person of numbers, and you’re constantly looking for your ROIs and constantly studying your KPIs you may be labeled as ‘The Bad Guy’. You my or may-not fully understand this whole UX thing but you want to know how increasing your consumers experience equates to more money.

If you’re transparent and you’re not running around telling people that you want to make people happy and you care for their happiness more than you do for your own profits you’ll be ok — I’m not saying to be fake. Just fake the emotion and empathy. Sure the people at Zappos.com are known for championing great customer service and making sure their consumers have a great memorable experience; however, if doing things like personally driving out of state to deliver someones wedding shoes didn’t bring back some type of ROI then you can be damn sure they wouldn’t do anything like it ever again.

You can go broke making your customers happy. So you need to know how you fake it and turn ‘it’ off and on when you need to.

By enforcing a systematic approach to customer service is how Tony Hsieh (Zappos CEO) and his company does it. Sure it doesn’t sound all unicorn-y and rainbows when stated like that, but it’s true. That’s what companies do. They enforce rules and regulations. The have hand-books, training and reward systems for their employees. If you can create a systemic culture then you won’t have to worry about getting caught.

There is a seriously strong correlation between rote repetition of exercises and the mastering of a process or skill. So basically, what initially looks sounds like forcing employees to fake empathy will ultimately translate into process mastery and success via going through the motions.

Just like Dexter.

Never kill the innocent

The sphere of customer service doesn’t just remain encapsulated around your employees and the consumer. We also need to remain cognisant of how employee to employee relations affect their attitudes and in return the relationships with your future clients.

When you’re working with your team on your product our ego’s can be easily bruised; still, everyone just needs to always remember and/or be reminded that you’re all there for the same goal. You nor anyone else should be killing, verbally attacking, antagonizing or constantly second guessing anyone.

If you don’t know, don’t assume. Always do your research to prove a point. In the user experience industry contextual data usually always triumph’s what someone thought ought to happen.

We need to learn to listen, speak and cooperatively persuade one antoher without knocking each other down. When you begin to fake empathy and check your ego, you begin to actually listen and see clearly. If you’re being told you are wrong and someone has data to prove it — case closed. If it’s you that’s proving some-else wrong and you have all your data points, again it helps to fake empathy there too. Try to find out why they’re really pushing against your point.

Understanding this approach is even more important and impactful when working with startups. Initially individuals may not understand the rituals what’s needed ever-day and so they may feel like it’s useless and time-consuming and usually they’re feeling like they’ve been taken out of their element and core competencies.

But as time wears on, the benefits start to manifest simply from the everyone spending more time with one another. Camaraderie and joking around are the initial signs of inclusion and growing trust. Trust develops into transparency where everyone is now including one another into their process, making the experience better for everyone.

Now the team is working on an unconscious level, reacting to input, solving problems collaboratively and can handle almost any curve ball thrown their way.

Never make a scene

This is really self explanatory. Regardless if you’re a homicidal psychopath looking to not get caught or just trying to argue a point, it’s not easy, and it takes time to achieve this stage of process enlightenment. It requires the entire team to not only just spend time together, but to struggle together, go through conflicts, fail and then win together.

Happy hunting… eh.. I mean, good luck with your product.

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