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Winter is finally here, and the people of Westeros haven’t been very proactive about it. Customer Success Managers know that being proactive can save them from churn, but there’s always a chance that your beloved accounts decide to leave you. Based on these leading causes of churn, how would you die on Game of Thrones?

SPOILER ALERT, this post focuses on characters who have lost their lives on Game of Thrones. If you haven’t watched seasons 1 to 6, save this for later and go do some catching up!

Robb Stark: The Overseller

In search of political allies, Robb Stark seals his fate by committing to marrying Lord Walder Frey’s daughter. Rob breaks his promise, and “graciously” offers that his uncle, Edmure Tully, marry the Frey daughter in his place. Fast-forward to the heartbreaking red wedding, when Robb Stark, his wife, his unborn child, and his mother are murdered by Lord Frey’s men.

Moral of the story: Don’t make promises you don’t intend on keeping, and make sure your Sales team also understands why this is so important. Whatever plan B you come up with will never be as good as a plan A. In Customer Success, the “this isn’t what we had signed up for” cancellation email is the equivalent of the red wedding. Slightly less horrifying, but still devastating.

Tommen Baratheon: The Collateral Damage of Organizational Change

What says “reorganization” better than the battle for influence happening between the Faith and the Crown under Tommen’s rule over King’s Landing. After Cersei names High Sparrow as High Septon, King’s Landing undergoes a series of structural reforms. Finally, the reorganization comes to an end as Cersei decides to blow up the entire faith. Alone in the Red Keep, Tommen Baratheon witnesses the explosion and jumps off a window to his death.

Moral of the story: Structural reorganization can cause collateral damage. Had Cersei been more proactive in preparing Tommen for what was coming, she might have been able to save him. As a CSM, be sure to constantly deliver value so that when organizational change does happen, you don’t end up like Tommen… an unintended victim of something that’s completely out of your control.

Joffrey Baratheon: The Poorly Onboarded King

Joffrey was put on the throne when King Robert died, but not much else went into educating the young boy on what makes a good king. A taught sense of self-preservation could have helped him understand that his actions can backfire. Even as the king, you can get poisoned for being a bully.

Moral of the story: Everyone hates Joffrey because he’s the worst, so you can see something here about bad-fit customers and letting them churn in everyone’s best interest. But there’s also something to note about kings who aren’t taught how to rule and customers who aren’t taught how to use your product – they both end poorly.

Ramsay Bolton: The Ineffective Relationship Builder

When Sansa unleashes Ramsay’s hounds on him, the latter argues that they’d never hurt him. When ordering them to sit, Ramsay’s apparent failure to create bonds of loyalty with his animals leads him to a gruesome death. Knowing the nature of his character, we’re not surprised when his relationship-building skills fail him.

Moral of the story: Don’t wait until the most critical moment to start building relationships. Starting early will allow you to have a strong support system which can come in handy when you most need it. Also, don’t be a horrible person, and feed your dogs.

Ned Stark: The One We Did Not See Coming

We were all rooting for Ned, so much so that even when he got in trouble, we hoped for the best. Until the last moment, we expected a positive plot twist to save him. Alas, it did not end well for Ned, and we learned to stay vigilant down the road.

Moral of the story: Don’t take anything for granted. Churn happens everywhere and anywhere, even when you’re least expecting it and with your most loyal customers. Stay on your guard and take every single hint as seriously as you would with a new or unhealthy customer.

Valar Morghulis*

While it does appear that all men must die* on Game of Thrones, not all customers must churn. The battle against churn is not easily won, but Customer Success Managers are constantly learning new ways to arm themselves against such a fatal end.