TLF Gems Newsletter September 2021

Your monthly CX and insight newsletter from TLF Research

Design is only as human-centered as the business model allows.

Erika Hall

Our links are a mix, this time, of the quantitative and the qualitative; the data-driven and the human. That's because both are equally important, as our top read makes clear. Good business needs excellence both at the "hard edge" and the "soft edge", as well as good strategy.

The hard edge is often easier to measure, and can bring quicker returns, but almost inevitably leads to commoditisation as businesses fail to appreciate the importance of things that really matter to their customers and people. What are you doing to fight for the soft edge in your organisation?

Thanks for reading,

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

Search Trends & Consumer Behaviour

Interesting article on four trends in consumer behaviour revealed by search history: 1) window-shopping has shifted online 2) we're more values driven 3) convenience is crucial 4) unpredictable trends drive big surges in demand. "...although we often talk about the new digital customer experience, we don’t always discuss the values behind these new behaviours."

Read: Search Trends & Consumer Behaviour

The Case for Optimism

Psychologists have shown that pessimists have a more accurate view of the world than optimists, but in this interesting piece Kevin Kelly argues that it's optimism which allows us to innovate, live and work together, and achieve great things. "In the long run, optimists shape the future."

Read: The Case for Optimism

"Thick" Data

Nice article (with which I 100% agree) about the power of qualitative techniques such as ethnography to improve the customer experience, and why organisations are often missing these as they rush to embrace "big data". "Instead of rushing to implement powerful AI software, I believe brands should first consider including customer ethnography in their front lines."

Read: "Thick" Data

Ask a Human

I really liked this argument, from Rob Walker's Art of Noticing newsletter, that we lose something important by searching for information rather than asking someone (as we might have done before search engines). What relationships could we build, or valuable context and opinion might we pick up, by talking to someone instead of using the more "efficient" option? "Instead of using a search engine to circumvent the need for a conversation, have the conversation. Ask someone; call someone. See where it goes."

Read: Ask a Human

Henry Hoover

This is a fun Guardian article on the enduring appeal of the UK-made "Henry" vacuum cleaner by Numatic. "Henry is the anti-Dyson, rolling over the social codes of the household appliance market with a modesty and humour that escapes the bigger, more expensive brand and its billionaire creator."

Read: Henry Hoover

Dr Fauci Lecture

The John Snow Society's annual lecture (open to all online) will be given on 8 September by Dr Fauci. It's called "COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Remaining Challenges", and it's bound to be fascinating.

Watch the Webinar: Dr Fauci Lecture

Top Reads: The Soft Edge

Some books blow your mind. Others confirm what you already believe, but do it in a way that helps you articulate your thoughts, and this is definitely one of those. Chances are you already believe that differentiation based on culture, relationships, and experience is more lasting than that based on supply chain efficiencies or technology. This book brings that idea to life, and gives you a brilliant framework to talk about the balance between strategy, the "hard edge", and "the soft edge". You need all three for a great, sustainable, business. "...hard-edge advantages are necessary, but fleeting..."

Top Reads: The Soft Edge