A CX Research Reading List

Autumn 2022

We're often asked about recommendations for books relevant to customer experience research and customer insight. The problem is that it’s such a rich field that there are hundreds of books that are valuable, so how do we narrow it down for someone who may not be sure where to start? Here are 12 books that we think are great (and yes, we wrote 2 of them!), covering different aspects of the customer research world.

Market Research in Practice

Paul Hague

A pragmatic explanation of how to use research, and how it fits into your business planning.

Your Customer Survey

Stephen Hampshire

This short book is designed to help you make or review the key decisions to make sure you're getting the most out of your customer research. Apologies for the self-promotion!

Customer Satisfaction

Nigel Hill, Greg Roche, & Rachel Allen

If you want a step by step, thoroughly referenced, guide to how we approach customer satisfaction research, this is it. A little long in the tooth now (we’re planning a new edition). The fundamentals haven’t changed, but take what it says about web surveys with a pinch of salt.

Well Designed

Jon Kolko

A useful explanation of what designers actually do, and how research informs that process.

Contextual Design

Karen Holtzblatt & Hugh Beyer

This book, and the approach it details, is meaty and not for the faint hearted. The foundation of a lot of user research practice.


Wendy Gordon

Kindle only, sadly, but a great book from a legendary qualitative researcher explaining how she thinks.

Just Enough Research

Erika Hall

A thorough, opinionated, explanation of how qualitative user research works.

This Means This, This Means That

Sean Hall

My favourite book on semiotics, cutting through the really arcane stuff so that you can quickly see how semiotics can be used to interpret what shapes people’s reactions.

Method Cards


A useful resource of new ideas for learning about customers, and something I often flick through for inspiration if I’m looking for a different angle for a particular project.

How Customers Think

Gerald Zaltman

Interesting book looking at the psychology of qualitative research, although I wouldn’t follow Zaltman’s approach to the letter.

Internet, Phone, Mail, andMixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method 

Don A. Dillman, Jolene D. Smythe,
& Leah Melani Christian

There are a lot of research textbooks out there, but what sets this one apart is its focus on the real, practical, challenges that research professionals face. Issues like non-response bias, the impact of mixed methods, and how to actually write questions. Highly recommended!

The Psychology of Survey Response

Roger Tourangeau, Lance J. Rips,
& Kenneth Rasinski

The only book I know of that examines in detail what cognitive science has to tell us about the way people understand questions, remember experiences, and choose how to respond to surveys. Technical, but might change how you think about surveys for good.

What about you, do you have any favourites?

We’re always on the lookout for good books, so drop us a line with your recommendations!

Stephen Hampshire

Client Manager
TLF Research