TLF Gems Newsletter February 2023

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

In the particular is contained the universal.

James Joyce

[Since playing with ChatGPT is all the rage, I thought I'd ask it to write my introduction for me, taking that Joyce quote as a starting point. As with most of these examples, the results are superficially good, but a bit verbose and lacking in substance.]

Welcome to our latest edition of the customer experience and customer insight newsletter. The quote, "In the particular is contained the universal," reminds us that understanding the specific needs and preferences of individual customers is essential for creating a truly universal and effective customer experience strategy.

In this edition, we've curated a selection of articles that focus on the importance of understanding the particular needs of customers and how to use that understanding to improve the overall customer experience.

We hope you enjoy these articles and find them informative. We believe that the information they provide can help you to gain valuable insights into your customers and improve the overall customer experience.

Thanks for reading (it's me again now!),


Here are 8 things we think are worth your time this month

Read: An Event or a Journey?

Love this post from Seth Godin about the distinction between events and journeys, and how a big event can distract us from focusing the attention we should on the journey. When it comes to events in the customer experience, we need to remember what it is the customer cares about. "A wedding is an event, a marriage is a journey."

Read: An Event or a Journey?

Advice From CX Experts

10 pieces of advice from customer experience experts. Lots of good stuff in this, but I particular like number 7 - be hypothesis driven. "Sometimes it feels overwhelming because there’s just so much data available. Our team takes a hypothesis-driven approach. We’re very focused on the lifetime value of our customers and understanding what drives a customer’s lifetime value and the actions we can take to improve it..." - Emily Essner, Saks

Read: Advice From CX Experts

Nick Cave on ChatGPT

For a bit of balance I thought I'd include Nick Cave's ferocious take on ChatGPT. It's hard to argue against the idea that we lose something important when we allow these tools to mimic the outputs of human experience. "ChatGPT’s melancholy role is that it is destined to imitate and can never have an authentic human experience, no matter how devalued and inconsequential the human experience may in time become."

Read: Nick Cave on ChatGPT

What Happened to Southwest Airlines

I found this story really interesting - a long thread on Twitter giving one pilot's perspective of what went wrong at Southwest Airlines (so long the flagbearer for customer centric strategy). It's about how focusing on short-term profit can hollow out a company, giving results that look good in the short term but store up problems for the future. "As the frontline employees began to see the deterioration in our operation we began to warn our leadership. We educated them, we informed them and we made suggestions to them. But to no avail. The focus was on finances not operations."

Read: What Happened to Southwest Airlines

Brag About Your Failures

It's a cliché that if you want your organisation to be innovative you have to make people comfortable with failure, but building that kind of culture isn't easy. This is a great idea from Paul Sloane—boast about your failures as much as your successes to make it clear that both go together. "If we can publicise more of these failures we can let people know that failure is allowable. More than that, it is a necessary consequence of taking bold decisions."

Read: Brag About Your Failures

Live Shopping For Authenticity?

I'm painfully aware that I may not be the target demographic, but I've been prone to dismiss the live shopping trend as "QVC for TikTokers". This article argues that it can be an effective way to engage customers with content that feels authentic, and may even reduce return rates. " shopping can be an extremely effective channel through which to create a feeling of authenticity for customers – if it's done right."

Read: Live Shopping For Authenticity?

Poverty In The UK

Many of you will be thinking about the financial vulnerability of your customers and staff. This Joseph Rowntree report gives a crucial insight into poverty in the UK, what the trends and causes are, and how it varies by region. "We are in the midst of a profound cost of living crisis with huge implications for society. Many of us are having to make difficult choices on what spending we prioritise, but some of us face increasingly bleak choices. None of these should be necessary in a country as wealthy as the UK."

Find out more: Poverty In The UK

Top Reads: The Mind Map Book

I use mind mapping pretty regularly, both to plan things like webinars and also as a way to think through the themes that are emerging from qualitative research. It's a technique that you can use with no (or very little) understanding of the "rules" or theory, but if you like using mind maps I'd recommend reading Tony Buzan's original book. His style can rub some people up the wrong way, but his ideas are fascinating. "Since my invention of Mind Maps during the 1960s, they have become known as the 'ultimate thinking tool'."

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

Top Reads: The Mind Map Book

Oh, and I thought I'd let ChatGPT recommend a book as it a coincidence that it's one which emphasises transactional success over relationships?

"What Customer Experience book would you recommend, and why?"

One customer experience book I would recommend is "The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty" by Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson, and Nicholas Toman. This book provides actionable insights and practical strategies for improving customer experience. It is based on extensive research, including surveys and interviews with thousands of customers and companies, and offers a fresh perspective on how to create effortless experiences that lead to increased customer loyalty. The authors also provide a framework for understanding the drivers of customer loyalty and how to design experiences that align with them. Overall, this book is a valuable resource for any business or organization looking to improve its customer experience.