How Can We Learn From Claw Machines (Again)?

It feels almost like a break up. Intuitively, we feel weird about how things are going on. We start to see certain telltale signs. We start to doubt ourselves at first. We give it some time. But sooner than we thought, things begin to materialize right before our eyes. One of our (my, really) nightmares has arrived. My favourite claw machine brand is officially rigged, and it is rigged beyond the point of redemption. Previously, I wrote about how we should ask a simple question to disrupt industries — “What is the always?” Whatever it is, let’s do something else. If claw machines are assumed to be rigged, what if we do the exact opposite? We would naturally expect that the exact opposite would be to make it fair. Yet, my favourite claw machine brand went to the other end of the spectrum.

My favourite claw machine brand rigged the game so badly that you can’t catch anything UP AT ALL till it is pay out after 12 tries.

It is ridiculous. They might earn 10 to 20 dollars off each customer. Heck, they might even earn over 50 dollars off a naive customer. But customers are not dumb, they will catch up eventually. The business is earning money on a short term basis, but losing loyalty every single minute they’re allowing this business model to continue. Is it allowed? Definitely. Will they continue? Probably. Do they care? I doubt so. Do they have to? No. It is simply good enough for them, or at least for now till they start to bleed.

We’re back to the same old situation of urgent vs important.

There are two ways to catch a plane. The first way, believe it or not, happens to be the most common, is to leave on time, pray that your cab doesn’t get lost and actually comes on time, repeatedly glance at your watch, and then start moving faster. Before you know it, you’re zigzagging in and out of lines with a pace you convince yourself that it is not jogging. It is merely power walking. Four gates away, you break into a run. If you’re fortunate, you barely make the flight. If not, ha ha ha. The second way is to leave for the airport 15 minutes earlier. If we focus on the important stuff, the urgent will take care of itself. Too often, we use the urgent as an excuse for sloppy decision-making. Absurdly rigged claw machines is a prime example of sloppy decision-making. It is like ordering chicken chop as your takeaway option only to be given ridiculously weak plastic knives almost deliberately intended to be broken by the chicken instead. Urgent is not an excuse.

Urgent is often a sign that we have been putting off the important stuff until it mushrooms out of control.

It is simple to justify running for our planes when it is leaving in three minutes and we’re only four gates away. It is much more difficult to justify waking up 15 minutes earlier to avoid the problem altogether. However, waking up early is the single most efficient and effective way to prevent further urgent matters to pop up. It may seem foolish to the person lying in bed next to you, but we only start to reap the rewards of a tough decision when we are taking a pleasant stroll to the gate. We appreciate it even more when we happen to chance upon a friend we haven’t spoke to in awhile.

Imagine that, as compared to frantically waving goodbye to your friend even before he said hello.

Rather than justifying draconian measures, let me, if I may, propose a simple solution. The key idea is to embrace and encourage the concept of “I care, not because I have to. I care, because I want to.” If you genuinely care about your business, you wouldn’t make your business lose customers. If you genuinely care about your customers, you wouldn’t make your customers lose their trust.

The way to genuinely care for your customers is allow them to have a fair game of claw machine in a way where they can learn with each progressive try.

It is important to do the necessary (and often arduous) tasks to ensure a win-win situation where customers learn and claw machine earns. Or, we can always succumb to the urgency of adjusting most, if not all claw settings, to be the weakest for a week or two. What can we lose? Trust? How much is trust worth? Apparently, a lot.



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Terence C.

There is a fine line between fishing and doing nothing. We would like to think that we’re fishing, but the truth is we don’t have the line.