TLF Gems Newsletter July 2023

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

Prospects don’t buy, they choose.

Al Ries & Jack Trout

If you want to understand customer behaviour, or any human behaviour, you only really need to know about two things: choices and habits. Understanding those things properly is something psychologists are still working on, but some things we know for sure.

Choices are hard, so we avoid making them if we can, and when they're forced on us we use whatever shortcuts we can to make the process easier. Those shortcuts sometimes lead us to make irrational mistakes, but they work pretty well most of the time (or at least they did in the world our brains evolved to survive in).

When it comes to customers, what it means is you need to be really clear what you're trying to achieve, and what's driving customer behaviour. Are they making choices or relying on habits? What shortcuts are they using to make those decisions? The better you understand that, the better the relationship you can build with them.

Thanks for reading,


Here are 6 things we think are worth your time this month

Is Purpose The Road To Hell?

I do (sometimes) enjoy reading things which challenge my beliefs. This second piece in a three part series from Nick Asbury is a brilliantly provocative argument against the new orthodoxy of corporate purpose. One thing I definitely agree on is that purpose is often pompous and self-aggrandising, rather than focused on what you can do for customers. "Many companies have spent the past decade studying their own navels, trying to find anything resembling a purpose. It’s been a huge waste of intellectual energy, if you can dignify it with that term. Brands would gain more from forgetting about their ‘why’ and looking outwards to the world. It’s full of customers who have their own perspectives. Think about them, not you."

Trust In Supermarkets At All-Time Low

All of us will have noticed rising prices on supermarket shelves, but who do we hold responsible? Marketing Week, quoting data from Which?, reveals that consumers may be feeling taken advantage of. Only Aldi and Lidl have seen their value scores improve. "Rocketing prices and lack of access to cheaper alternatives, particularly in convenience stores, has left consumers feeling 'ripped off', according to the research, which is causing trust to drop."

A New Model For Economics?

Interesting Guardian long read about the theories of Kate Raworth (author of 'Doughnut Economics'). Far too much of the conversation around carbon reduction has focused on "green growth" models that, frankly, don't really add up; whilst others seem to require us to make sacrifices that most of us would find hard to live with. Raworth's model may offer a more realistic, and hopeful, perspective. "The doughnut is premised on three central ideas: the economy should distribute wealth fairly, regenerate the resources that it uses, and allow people to prosper. None of this, Raworth argues, should depend on economic growth."

Proving The ROI Of CX

This is a good short article by Olga Potaptseva about proving the value of investing in customer experience. As she says, having the right metrics, such as Customer Lifetime Value, in place is crucial, as is being able to show the impact of investments on customer behaviour. "CX professionals must align their CX initiatives with specific business goals and metrics to establish a clear link between customer-focused initiatives and financial growth."

When People Used To Log Off

Interesting article on Slate about how technology has enabled the expansion of hours during which people are expected (or feel expected) to be available on work channels. It's a problem that seems to have grown substantially during the pandemic, and one we need to address before we all burn out! "...we’re all expected by bosses, co-workers, and friends to be online and available pretty much every time of day. Especially since the pandemic and the growth of remote work, job responsibilities seem to be ever-expanding to fill all available time."

Top Reads: The Illusion of Choice

Richard Shotton joins the rarefied company of authors with two books in our list of Top Reads. There's no shortage of books about behavioural science these days, but few of them are as practically oriented as Shotton's book. If you want to understand how choices are made, how cognitive biases affect those choices, and how your organisation can use that (not necessarily as Machiavellian as it sounds!) then this book is essential reading. "Businesses are in the business of behaviour change."

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!