TLF Gems Newsletter March 2024

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

...when you get to the point where you're trying to persuade someone about good work, you need a story. Work like a scientist but present like a snake-charmer.

Mike Monteiro

One thing that genuinely perplexes me is that you sometimes come across people who will confidently say that customer research is a waste of time. "It doesn't tell us anything we don't already know," they might say, or "that's very interesting, but what am I supposed to do with it?"

The truth is that some customer research is a waste of time, but that means you're doing it wrong. If you're clear on what you want to find out, what you're going to do with that insight, and how you're going to approach it then customer research has guaranteed value.

Thanks for reading,


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

Virtual First Impressions

Interesting article on the impact of video backgrounds (amongst other things) on perceived trustworthiness and competence. "For those regularly using videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom and Teams, the study implies a recommendation for a background with a bookcase or house plants. Novelty virtual backgrounds and showing your full living space should be avoided."

Research Questions Are Not Interview Questions

This is sort of research 101, but well worth reading this article from Erika Hall unpacking exactly how and why research questions (what you want to know) differ from interview questions (what you ask customers). "The most significant source of confusion in design research is the difference between research questions and interview questions. This confusion costs time and money and leads to a lot of managers saying that they tried doing research that one time and nothing useful emerged."

Fighting Shrinkflation

Richard Shotton posts on Twitter about how the French supermarket Carrefour is using signage to alert customers when manufacturers reduce their product sizes to boost margins. Interesting to see them position themselves as on the customer's side against price-gouging brands. "Shoppers easily spot price rises for their groceries. They are less likely to notice changes in the size of a product."

Gen AI at the BBC

In my webinar on the CX Landscape for 2024 I argued that organisations need to have a clear policy, and probably governance, about how Generative AI tools are being used. In that context, this article from the BBC is a interesting example of how a media behemoth is approaching it. "We set out that we would: always act in the best interests of the public; always prioritise talent and creativity; always be open and transparent with audiences when we use AI to support content-making."

Time Management Cheat Sheet

A really good "cheat sheet" from Victoria Repa on LinkedIn summarising a load of popular approaches to time management. "90% of time management effectiveness depends on: the technique you use that suits you best."

TFL's AI Experiment

A long but fascinating read on TFL's experiments with AI at Willesden Green station which gives a really balanced view of the benefits and risks that this technology brings. "...with AI, what used to be abstract arrays of different coloured pixels can now be easily turned into meaningful data – and our movements, our body language and what we’re wearing are just metadata that can be mined by the authorities for good and for ill."

What I'm Reading: The Service Organization

This is an excellent book about designing organisations to deliver good experiences for customers, starting by understanding customer needs. It has a government/public sector angle, but there's much here that will be useful for anyone designing services. "When you join somewhere new, you're more likely to be shown the 'org chart' than the services to people."