TLF Gems Newsletter June 2021

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

I get nervous when people are glorying in the jargon of their profession. That to me points towards an insecurity. If you’re happy with what you’re doing, you should be able to talk about it in childlike terms with anybody.

Dylan Moran

If I was picking one phrase to encapsulate my view of what's wrong with customer experience it would be "unintended consequences". Organisations don't want to design experiences that fail customers. Their people don't want to deliver bad service. Customers don't want to get things wrong and end up with products that don't meet their needs. So why does it happen?

Systems thinking is an incredibly useful tool for analysing the perverse incentives, unintended consequences, and unhelpful feedback loops which lead to so many failures of customer experience even when everyone is trying their best. If the system is set up wrong, no amount of good intentions will make it work. That's why experiences need to be designed as a whole, and why they can't be designed effectively unless you start with a clear view of what the customer sees.

Thanks for reading,

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

Warren Buffet on 4 Choices

A short piece on 4 life lessons from Warren Buffet: 1) Pick your friends wisely, 2) Go to bed a little smarter each day, 3) Improve your communication skills, 4) Say no. "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything."

Read: Warren Buffet on 4 Choices

Handbrakes or Accelerators?

Excellent Marketing Week article on the idea that behavioural change is more effective when we concentrate on removing barriers ("handbrakes") rather than motivating the change directly. This is enormously important for customer behaviour, of course, but also organisational change. "If we underestimate the impact of friction, we’ll spend too little time and money simplifying our customer journey."

Read: Handbrakes or Accelerators?

Defusing Conflict

Interesting feature in David Epstein's newsletter with Amanda Ripley, who shares 3 tips for defusing conflict. I think "looping for understanding" is particularly important for customer experience conflicts. "That simple act of making someone feel heard, and of making it clear that you’re truly trying to understand what they mean, can stop the barreling conflict snowball in its path."

Read: Defusing Conflict

Time for an Automated CEO?

When we talk about AI taking over tasks from humans, we normally think of relatively poorly-paid roles, so I enjoyed this article on the potential for AI to replace your CEO. "It is often asked whether CEO pay is fair or ethical. But company owners and investors should be asking if their top management could be done well by a machine – and if so, why is it so expensive?"

Read: Time for an Automated CEO?

The Velvet Hammer

Do you use the "sandwich" method of giving constructive criticism? If so, the "velvet hammer" may be a better alternative. "Asking, ‘What do you suggest we do?’ makes the point that it’s us against the problem, instead of me versus you. When leaders use the velvet hammer, the conversation goes better for everyone involved."

Read: The Velvet Hammer

AI Ethics Framework

The UK Government has published a 7 point framework for the ethical and transparent use of automated decision making in government departments. Even if you're in the private sector, this usefully outlines some of the issues that you need to be aware of with automated decision making. "When using an automated or algorithmic decision-making system, the risks are different and this should be taken into account."

Find out more: AI Ethics Framework

Top Reads: Thinking in Systems

Systems thinking, as you'll have gathered from my introduction, is something I'm really interested in, and I think this classic introduction by Donella Meadows is the perfect place to start if you want to find out more. “A system generally goes on being itself, changing only slowly if at all, even with complete substitutions of its elements - as long as its interconnections and purposes remain intact.”

Top Reads: Thinking in Systems