TLF Gems Newsletter May 2021

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

While we teach, we learn.


Behavioural Economics has so successfully taken hold of our thinking in research, politics, and business that we've become very used to thinking about the cognitive biases which affect the decisions people make.

The funny thing is, we're all keen to notice other people's cognitive biases, but we're much less likely to reflect on our own. That's probably one form of what I think of as the most important cognitive bias in the customer experience - the fundamental attribution error. This is our tendency to explain other people's behaviour as being a result of their innate personality, whereas our own is based on specific circumstances. For example: you're grumpy because you're a horrible person, I'm grumpy because I didn't sleep well last night.

Rather than trying to find ways to "nudge" customers into doing what we want, we should probably spend more time reflecting on the ways in which cognitive biases permeate our decision making as individuals and organisations.

Thanks for reading,

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

Does Satisfaction Pay?

We believe it does, of course. This academic article shows one of the mechanisms by which higher satisfaction is good for business - firms with higher ACSI scores have lower cost of capital (largely because of improved reputation, and especially in cases where there is a lot of "information asymmetry" - i.e. where investors don't have an easy way to assess quality). "Our principal argument is that aggregated opinions of customers contain value-relevant information and that high customer satisfaction signals firm reputation and quality in a way that is useful for investors."

Read: Does Satisfaction Pay?

When Less is More

Interesting write-up of new research that shows that we have a bias when trying to improve things: we usually want to add to the existing solution rather than subtract from it. For instance, your boss is far more likely to suggest additions to your board paper than subtractions, but that isn't necessarily the best idea. This has obvious relevance when we think about improving the customer experience - how often do we think of taking things away from the existing journey? "Sometimes less really is more."

Read: When Less is More

Cognitive Biases in User Research

Really good article about some common cognitive biases which affect user research, many of which are applicable to customer research (and business thinking) more widely. "...designers can be victims of bias too, especially when it comes to user research."

Read: Cognitive Biases in User Research

Making Colour Accessible

I was reminded recently of this interesting approach to creating a visual language to make colour information accessible for people with colour blindness, based on symbols for the three primary colours. I first saw it on the Metro system in Porto a few years ago, and thought it seemed like a good idea then. "Colour should be for all!"

Find out more: Making Colour Accessible

Managing Perceptions

We often talk about the importance and power of managing customers perceptions, and here's an interesting example. Researchers at Mozilla found that they could improve customer perceptions of the Firefox browser relative to Chrome simply by asking people to read an article that claimed Firefox had improved performance. "The team says the results show that perceived performance can be boosted without actually making any technical improvements."

Read: Managing Perceptions

Gender & Flexibility

Interesting data from Bruce Daisley suggesting there may be a link between the gender balance within firms and their approach to flexible working. "We found that male-dominated firms are more likely to insist on workers going back to their desks."

Download article: Gender & Flexibility

Top Reads: Predictably Irrational

Behavioural Economics (which is basically psychology rebranded to look more relevant for business people) leapt into public consciousness at the end of the 2000s with the publication of 'Predictably Irrational' and Daniel Kahneman's 'Thinking, Fast and Slow'. You should probably read both of them, but Ariely's book is a much easier read, and helps to explain how understanding our biases makes our decisions predictable. "We all make the same types of mistakes over and over, because of the basic wiring of our brains."

Top Reads: Predictably Irrational