TLF Gems Newsletter October 2022

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

...if you try to run a business following advice from Wall Street, you won't be in business very long.

Jim Sinegal (Co-founder of Costco)

I feel like one of the phrases I use most often is "long term." Switching to thinking about everything over the long term is the little bit of mental judo that brings every other question about customers into focus.

Are satisfied and loyal customers worth more? Of course they are, in the long term. Are engaged employees more productive and better for the bottom line? Of course they are, in the long term. Will companies who create better customer experiences outperform their market? Of course they will, in the long term.

Just as the payoffs are long term, the effort needed to deliver them is long term too. To create a world-beating culture and deliver distinctive customer experiences is a journey that takes years of sustained effort. Few manage it, and that's what makes it worthwhile.

Thanks for reading,


Here are 8 things we think are worth your time this month

National Customer Service Week 2022

We're proud to be supporting National Customer Service Week 2022 - A week-long event from the Institute of Customer Service. The event's aim is to raise awareness of customer service and the vital role it plays in successful business practice and the growth of the UK economy.

Find Out More: Customer Service Week 2022

You Are Probably Wrong About...

I've raved before about the late Hans Rosling and his Gapminder foundation. This online tool will test how accurate your perception is about some key UN goals for the world, and explain where your beliefs may need updating. "Gapminder...believes that people will make better decisions if they understand the world around them and get the basic global trends and proportions right."

Find Out More: You Are Probably Wrong About...

Earth As Shareholder

No doubt you've seen the news about Yvon Chouinard giving Patagonia to a trust designed to help protect the planet from the impact of climate change. It's worth reading his explanation of why he did it, including a bit of history about Patagonia and its purpose. "If we could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills, we could influence customers and other businesses, and maybe change the system along the way."

Read: Earth As Shareholder

Sex, Lies, and Market Research

Fascinating and useful article in Marketing Week about getting more truthful answers from survey respondents using 3 approaches: ask them to commit to being honest, tell them you'll be checking up on them, and ask them what they think other people will do. The article positions this as "behavioural science", but the truth is savvy researchers have been using these techniques for decades! "People do lie. We’re social animals, and it’s natural to want to please the person we’re talking to."

Read: Sex, Lies, and Market Research

Data Memos

This is a superb article that reflects on the ways data has been used and misused during the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors present 12 principles for data visualisation designers to do better next time, ones we can all learn from whatever data we're dealing with. "This is a summary of what we’ve observed and 'pinned,' a checklist to stay on track for a more transparent and open future of data visualization."

Read: Data Memos

The Trouble With Heroic Individualism

A long read from David Epstein, which includes a great interview with Brad Stulberg about the trap of heroic individualism: trying to do too much, judging success on too short a timescale, and failing to connect. The answer lies in 5 principles that I think are super-relevant to culture and customer experience: "Accepting and thoughtfully evaluating trade-offs...Supporting presence and productive activity...Playing the long game...Realizing vulnerabilities and addressing them...Encouraging and supporting deep community and belonging..."

Read: The Trouble With Heroic Individualism

Start Counting When It Starts Hurting

I really liked this story in the Farnam Street newsletter about the power of consistently turning up, even when you don't feel like it. "Muhammad Ali was asked how many sit-ups [he] would do to prepare for a fight. His reply: 'I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that’s when I start counting, because that’s when it really counts.'"

Read: Start Counting When It Starts Hurting

Top Reads: Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method

This, let's say it right off the bat, is not a light (or cheap) read, but we're sometimes asked to recommend a comprehensive book about survey research. There are a lot of research textbooks out there, but what sets this one apart is its focus on the real, practical, challenges that research professionals face. Issues like non-response bias, the impact of mixed methods, and how to actually write questions. " is apparent to us that the telephone is still necessary for certain types of surveys and, perhaps more importantly, that there are many ways it can be used in mixed-mode designs to overcome the weaknesses of single contact and/or response mode surveys."

Top Reads: Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method

If you'd ever like to have a look at our list of past Top Reads, they're all catalogued on our website here - enough reading to keep anyone going for a while!