TLF Gems Newsletter December 2023

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

Have you had many brothers, Spirit?’ ‘More than eighteen hundred,’ said the Ghost.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

How many Christmases can you remember? It's probably 40 or so in my case, which is around 2% of all the Christmases there have ever been. It's interesting to think about what's changed and what's stayed the same in that time.

There's a nice analogy in Dickens' conception of each year's Christmas spirit as a brother to the ones that have gone before, a sense of both continuity and impermanence.

Customer experience is much the same isn't it? Just as Christmas has been reinvented over the centuries, the world of customer experience is constantly transforming, adapting to new trends, technologies, and expectations. But also, just like Christmas, what really matters is always basically the same..

Thanks for reading,


Here are 7 things we think are worth your time this month

AI Will Disrupt Every Phase of Research

A good summary of discussions at the ASC Conference about the impact of generative AI in research. "Clients are both incredibly excited and incredibly scared. Change [from AI] is going to happen much quicker than the internet, and much quicker than mobile."

Privacy & The Mosaic Effect

This is an insightful story that pieces together a tailored visualisation of the information about you that may have been compromised by data breaches over the years. The point is that, however trivial each individual breach may seem, when you put them together they may add up to a worryingly complete picture. "This is called the 'mosaic effect', and it means that your risk compounds with every breach. This is because all of that information can be tied back together using one piece of information that links it all together — in this case, your email address."

Information is Beautiful Awards Showcase

If you're interested in better ways to present data it's always worth a look through the Information is Beautiful awards showcase for inspiration. You can filter just to show the winners, but scroll through the other entries as well to see what catches your eye. Some of my favourites are: "My digital double and me", "Die Stadtflucht", and "Relationships Over Time".

QR Code Scam

This isn't the first QR scam, and I bet it won't be the last. In a way the only surprise is how long it's taken for scammers to spot the opportunity. "...Action Fraud receives hundreds of crime reports every year linked to QR codes. Action Fraud said more than 400 such offences were logged in the first nine months of 2023, compared with 112 in 2020."

A Tool or Art?

I thought this was fascinating - a handaxe carefully knapped from flint by one of our distant ancestors about 300,000 years ago. The toolmaker chose a block of flint with a fossilised bivalve in it, and worked around the fossil making sure not to damage it. I'd argue they were making not just a tool, but also a piece of art. And why shouldn't the things we make be both?

Guaranteed Income & The Pandemic

You may have seen that Stockton (California, not Teesside) ran an experiment in which a selection of residents were given $500 a month to test the idea of universal basic income. Broadly the results were positive, showing an increase to people's mental health and financial stability, but this article highlights the fact that the benefits were overshadowed by the pandemic. "Year 2 showed us some of those limits, where $500 a month is not a panacea for all social ills."

Top Reads: The Unpublished David Ogilvy

I've always had a soft spot for David Ogilvy because of the emphasis he placed on using research to understand consumers so that he could write better ads. This is a selection of things he wrote for internal consumption (memos, speeches, letters etc.), and there are a lot of gems in there. "Why are so many brand managers addicted to price-cutting deals? Because the men who employ them are more interested in next quarter's earnings than in building their brands. Why are they so obsessed with next quarter’s earnings? Because they are more concerned with their stock options than the future of their company."

If you'd ever like to have a look at our list of past Top Reads, they're all catalogued on the CX Insights Hub here - enough reading to keep anyone going for a while!