TLF Gems Newsletter October 2023

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

The idea that we have to choose between a mediocre, well-executed strategy and a brilliant, poorly executed one is deeply flawed — a narrow, unhelpful concept replete with unintended negative consequences.

Roger Martin

Thinking in dichotomies is usually a trap, as Roger Martin points out in this quote. We frame strategy and execution in opposition to each other, when really they're bound up together. It leads companies to think they can get away with sloppy delivery if their idea is good enough, or forget about the bigger picture while they obsess about the detail. If your execution is poor then you didn't have a good strategy for delivering your idea.

We see this trap with customer insight too. Organisations focus so hard on making incremental changes based on their tactical touchpoint and journey surveys that they never step back to see the bigger picture. They forget about customer relationships, and the power of building a strategy based on the long term benefits of customer loyalty. They focus on scores rather than the attitudes and behaviour of key customers.

I'd suggest starting with some simple questions. Who are your most important customers? What are they worth to you (long term)? What are their needs? How will you deliver against those needs?

Thanks for reading,


Here are 6 things we think are worth your time this month

AI for Customer Experience

Interesting article with statistics on perceptions about AI in customer experience and related fields. It suggests that customers, companies, and employees all expect the impacts to be largely positive. Whether or not you agree, a useful collection of statistics for your next presentation! "AI for customer experience is a game-changer. It’s shifting the way we interact, reshaping expectations and setting new standards in personalization and convenience."

Dealing With Rude Customers

We've all witnessed, and perhaps experienced, the rude and demanding customers who expect exceptional treatment. "The squeaky wheel gets the oil", as the saying goes, and that can be exacerbated by the idea the customer is always right. It's not fair on staff, it's not fair on other customers, and it means we're training customers to behave unreasonably in order to get what they want. This LSE research suggests a strategy of "constructive resistance" for dealing with uncivil customers. "No firm or organisation can realistically aspire to satisfy every customer, and attempting to do so may damage a firm’s image in the eyes of other customers."

How Agile is Agile?

Excellent post from Paul Taylor criticising the ubiquity of "agile" as a one-size-fits-all approach that has taken over the business world. It's not that agile is inherently bad, but that it is often used badly and seen as the only way to approach change. "One of the issues I have with agile working (which never feels very agile funnily enough) is the presumption that teams using agile methods get things done faster."

Taking Good Notes

I really enjoyed this post from the amazingly productive Ted Gioia about his approach to taking notes. Smart, productive, people in any field often seem to set great stall by their notes, and I don't think that's a coincidence. "The simple fact is that there is no job or career in which keeping track of your learning isn’t useful."

6 Fundamental Biases

You've probably seen lists of the cognitive biases that we're all prone to. There are a depressing number of them! This interesting article suggests that many of them may depend on a much shorter list of fundamental beliefs: 1. My experience is a reasonable reference, 2. I make correct assessments of the world, 3. I am good, 4. My group is a reasonable reference, 5. My group is good, 6. People's attributes (not context) shape outcomes. "...we argue that different biases could be traced back to the same underlying fundamental beliefs and outline why at least some of these fundamental beliefs are likely held widely among humans."

Top Reads: The Elements of Typographic Style

I was recently complimented after a presentation for my use of hanging punctuation, which is a sort of secret handshake for a certain type of typography geek. This, the closest thing to a bible for typographers, is the book I turn to when I want to think clearly about how to address using type well. "Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition: an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness."

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