TLF Gems Newsletter November 2021

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

We tend to vastly overestimate what we can achieve in a year—and wildly underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.

Rich Roll

A lot of things feel a bit up in the air at the moment, don't they? Seismic changes (with complex causes that are some combination of technology trends, Brexit, climate change, and the pandemic) seem to be under way, but it's hard to be sure quite which ones will stick. Are our relationships with customers fundamentally broken? I don't think so, but it's clear that we need to address growing tensions at the front line. That's why we're backing the Institute of Customer Service's Service With Respect campaign.

I believe that organisations need to get used to taking a much wider view, a systems thinking view, of the way they work. This is important when it comes to sustainability, supply chains, design, culture, the customer experience, and almost any other aspect of business. If we focus only on efficiency in the short term, or with a too-narrow focus, then we're building businesses which are fragile and unsustainable.

Thanks for reading,

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

Purple Tuesday - 2nd November 2021

Today is Purple Tuesday, a great opportunity to make a commitment to improving the disabled customer experience. We’ve been working with Purple Tuesday on some facts and figures about the disabled customer experience, so look out for that in our forthcoming edition of Customer Insight. “#PurpleTuesday is about creating a step change improvement in the awareness of the value and needs of disabled customers.”

Find out more: Purple Tuesday

What CEOs Talked About

Here's a piece of analysis looking at the keywords used by CEOs in their earnings calls for Q3. It highlights the issues which are staying on the radar (sustainability) and growing in importance (inflation, supply chains, hybrid working). No real surprises, but an interesting meta-view to keep an eye on trends. "The fact that CEOs prioritize specific topics will likely lead to further investment and overall spending in these areas."

Read: What CEOs Talked About

The Customer Relationship Breakdown

Interesting interview with someone who works for Ikea about the impact that pandemic mitigations and supply chain issues have had on the customer relationship. Is it irreparably broken? "I'm kind of done with all of them. I can't even look at people the same way anymore."

Read: The Customer Relationship Breakdown

Empathy is a Muscle

An interesting piece in Time about why the exit from lockdown has been such a difficult time for customer interaction. Is it something more profound than the fear, anxiety, and confusion arising from Covid? "It’s not a coincidence, psychologists say, that much of the incivility occurs towards people who are in customer service industries."

Read: Empathy is a Muscle

Bad Design is Bad for the Planet

Dan Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things, talks about the role of design in creating the climate catastrophe, why experiences are more important than aesthetics, and why systems that allow repair are more important than recycling. "Climate change is a symptom to a problem that designers had a hand in creating."

Read: Bad Design is Bad for the Planet

Psychological Safety

I really like Dr Amy Edmondson's concept of "psychological safety", which is a much more useful idea than "empowerment". This article gives a good overview of how much of a mess organisations are in, and why that may explain the "great resignation". "If employees don’t believe their organization respects them or wants to hear their opinions, those employees will look elsewhere."

Read: Psychological Safety

Top Reads: Artificial Unintelligence

Almost everything you read about AI is either a breathless SciFi-informed puff piece or a technophobic horror story. In this brilliant book Meredith Broussard explains what the state of the art truly is. From the perspective of an insider, she outlines the social impact of the reckless way in which machine learning tools have been rushed into use without due consideration of their flaws and limitations. "We should really focus on making human-assistance systems instead of human-replacement systems."

Top Reads: Artificial Unintelligence