TLF Gems Newsletter January 2021

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

Seeing every interaction through a branding lens instead of through an expense-minimization lens means we run our call center very differently from most call centers.

Tony Hsieh, Zappos

Happy New Year!

Every so often I realise that I'm living in the future. Our first link this time, a paper comparing customer reactions to humanoid and non-humanoid robots, seems like it must come from a sci-fi future, although whether it's a dystopian or utopian one I'll leave to you to decide.

There's an important lesson hidden in that paper, I think. Customers are angrier with more "human-like" robots when things go wrong, but also more forgiving of them when they apologise and explain. You can extend that to pretty much any impersonal versus personal service - we expect different things of tools than we do of people.

What that means for customer experience is that we feel more let down when humans fail us, but we're also more prone to trust them. When you're designing journeys, you need to be very clear whether you're promising a tool or a relationship. If a customer is expecting human-like warmth and they get robotic coolness, the result is always a mess.

Thanks for reading,


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

Service For Robots

This article from the Journal of Service Research reports on a study into how consumers react to service failures from humanoid versus non-humanoid robots. Some highlights: customers are more satisfied if a humanoid apologises and explains what went wrong. Non-humanoids need a human to step in to explain and apologise. "...we show that consumer reactions to service failures by robots depend upon the features of such robots - whether they contain more humanlike features...or not..."

Read: Service For Robots

The American Customer Satisfaction Index

Always worth keeping an eye on what's happening to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which has been in freefall since 2018. "Overall, the new ACSI results do not bode well. Economic recovery may not just be a matter of producing more with fewer resources, but also a matter of better matching economic output to different tastes and household resources."

Read: The ACSI Results

Changing The Working Week

Fascinating long read about the Soviet Union's attempt to redesign the working week in order to increase productivity, and the relevance this has for our own 'always-on' work patterns. "For all time’s inherent malleability, people want it to be consistent, and more importantly, they want it to be theirs."

Read: Changing The Working Week

Market To Customers As Well As Prospects

Interesting sponsored piece at Marketing Week on the importance of marketing to customers as well as prospects in B2B markets, and of making sure that you tailor your messages to the lifecycle stage that customers are at. "Reinforce the status quo bias before building the vision of the future and you’ll get better results."

Read: Market To Customers As Well As Prospects

Draw To Remember

If you want to remember something, draw it. Austin Kleon makes the case for drawing as a way to embed things in your memory, because it forces you to understand the thing you are copying. I suspect it also takes advantage of 'dual coding', in the same way that good infographics do. "If you draw something, no matter how mundane the subject, no matter how badly, you really look at the thing, and therefore, you remember it better."

Read: Draw To Remember

What Does Covid Mean For Your Research?

We’ve had a lot of questions about the trends we’ve seen in customer research this year, so we’ve compiled them into a short document that summarises what we know about the impact of Coronavirus on research and customer satisfaction. “We believe that satisfaction has already lost any boost from customers giving organisations the ‘benefit of the doubt’. In fact, being perceived to use Covid-19 as an excuse is damaging to satisfaction.”

Read: What Does Covid Mean For Your Research?

Slide Chooser

Dr Andrew Abela, author of 'The Extreme Presentation Method', has had a slide chooser on his site for a while. It is now available in an interactive version, which makes it a bit easier to navigate. It's not perfect, but I've found that it's quite helpful to start with the question "What is the main point of your slide?", even if I don't end up using the option at the end of the flowchart.

Interactive: Slide Chooser

Top Reads: On Brand

Books on branding tend to fall into one of two camps: coffee-table books celebrating successful brands, and technical marketing books which address the nuts and bolts of building them. What's rare is a book which really breaks down what brands are and how they work, and that's exactly what Wally Olins' classic 'On Brand' does, brilliantly well. "We like brands. If we didn't like them, we wouldn't buy them. It is we consumers who decide which brand will succeed and which will fail."

Top Reads: On Brand