1. Customer Service — whatever channel it is provided in — lives within the world of language.

2. That world can be viewed as a game.

3. The game has rules, some clearly articulated and scripted (“answer X when customer says Y,” “provide this offer when this action occurs,” “the desired ROI is this…,” and so on). This is the explicit knowledge of the game — it can (ideally) be accessed by anyone.

4. Some of the rules of the game are not explicit — they are tacit. They guide our behavior but we can’t articulate them. As the thought-provoking chemist Michael Polyani noted in both Personal Knowledge and The Tacit Dimension, “we [often] know more than we can tell.” Riding a bike provides a good example of tacit knowledge; when riding, for example, one never makes explicit the laws of mechanics (balance this, exert pressure here, etc.) — one simply rides.

5. Indeed, the majority of rules in the game are tacit. We have to observe the world at work to understand what the rules actually are. As the great language philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein noted, “I do not explicitly learn the propositions that stand fast for me. I can discover them subsequently like the axis around which a body rotates. This axis is not fixed in the sense that anything holds it fast, but the movement around it determines its immobility.”

6. Tacit rules can be observed at work in different contexts. For example, we may notice, after repeated trials, that a number of customers use an unexpected word (or cluster of words) at a specific node within the customer journey. We craft a response, a rule changes, the customer journey map reorganizes itself — and the world accommodates that change. In this instance we can codify the tacit knowledge and make it explicit.

7. Our goal is to convert tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.

8. And indeed, many companies are doing an excellent job at codifying tacit knowledge — that is, making what was previously hidden explicit.  Cogito, for example, is an interesting company in this regard, in that its emotional intelligence software surfaces up the “hidden signals” that inform language (tone, inflection, etc.) and then provides directions (“speak more slowly,” etc.) on how to respond to the customer and even provides a CX score — just like in a game. After a period of time, in-the-moment suggestions (“be more empathic”) can become normative rules (“If customer says X, then Y”).

9. “Repositories of data” provide the framework for “world views.”

10. Worlds are alive — they grow with each interaction and interconnection.

11. Each client comprises its own world.

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