As someone who spent 17 years working in a corporate environment, I have experienced enough metaphors and analogies to last me a lifetime. Often, the use of both come across as either patronising, irritating, or indeed both!! That being said, in reality, I am actually as guilty as using them to get a point across as anyone else! If you are not fond of an analogy, then I suggest you spend the next five minutes of your time doing something else!!

As I continue to develop my Customer Experience Specialism around the globe, a number of questions are continually raised by the people I meet. These questions include the following examples:

  • Should I measure NPS or CSat?
  • How many customer segments should we have?
  • How many people should we have in our CX team?
  • Where should the CX function report into
  • Should we have a Chief Customer Officer

I could go on. What is fascinating about the questions I am asked, is that more often than not, most organisations have started their journey to becoming Customer Centric. Starting an organisations Customer Experience transformation is hard – something I have written about in the past. The post I penned in April 2015, described the fact that actually SUSTAINING an approach to Customer Experience is the hardest thing of all.


Over the years, the reason why SUSTAINING a focus on Customer Experience continues to be the hardest thing of all has become clearer and clearer. Whilst many – if not most – organisations are doing lots of ‘stuff’ connected to the Customer Experience, the reason why many – if not most – are finding it hard to SUSTAIN their organisations focus on it, is because they are failing (or unable) to connect all of the ‘stuff’ together.

It is extremely common to find businesses with lots of customer insight activity, with an NPS or CSat programme or both in action. Customer journey maps of all shapes and sizes are adorning many a conference room wall. Enough customer personas have been created by businesses to launch a new country! Customer focused measures are built into performance objectives and bonus schemes, whilst communication, employee engagement and learning & development activity keeps an army of Customer Experience ‘people’ busy.

It all sounds so positive and promising for the Customer Experience Profession. Yet without brining all of this activity together – aligning all of the ‘ducks’ – connecting the random pieces of the jigsaw puzzle – it becomes very difficult – if not impossible – for an organisation to see the full picture.

This is why I like using the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to describe the Customer Experience. We all know what it is like to connect pieces of a jigsaw together. Depending on the number of pieces; the size of the pieces; and the complexity of the picture; the length of time it takes to put it all together varies dramatically. Yet once the full picture has been constructed, it is both satisfying and rewarding. However, we all know what it feels like to be a few pieces away from completing the picture, only to find that there are pieces missing!!

Whether you like an analogy or not, this particular one is a remarkably accurate way of thinking about any organisations journey to embedding a Customer Centric culture. Although every jigsaw puzzle is different, the following jigsaw pieces are just some that may be necessary for your business:


A ‘tool’ that should never be seen as one that can be used exclusively by the marketing function. If used correctly, Customer Personas are critical in ensuring that everyone in the organisation knows WHO the different types of customer are that interact with it; and what their needs, wants and challenges are. Additionally, it is critical that an organisations ‘brand proposition’ is designed to meet these needs, wants and challenges – which leads me nicely to jigsaw piece number two…..


Having a clear understanding of WHY your organisation exists (its purpose); HOW you are going to deliver that purpose to your customers (its promises); and WHAT it is your customers actually need from you (its products and services), is essential in directing the whole organisation along a common trajectory. Failing to clarify proposition is a sure fire way of failing to meet the needs and expectations of customers, whilst at the same time confusing and demotivating your own people. It is vital to be able to connect the ‘customer persona’ piece of the jigsaw to the ‘brand proposition’ piece. Once they are connected, you then need to know how ‘good’ you are at delivering the proposition to your customers….


Creating a visualisation of the customer journey enables an organisation to understand what the customer ‘sees, feels, hears, and touches’, in their interactions with you (among other things). To determine how capable you are of delivering the proposition to your customers, you need to know what the customer journey actually looks like so you can measure how capable it is of doing what your customers need it to do. If you are measuring the Customer Experience without knowing what the customer journey looks like, then you are NOT connecting the pieces of the jigsaw together….


So many companies are (in my opinion) measuring the Customer Experience ‘badly’ – in almost all cases because they are actually doing it without connecting the critical pieces of this puzzle together. Just having a VOC mechanism does not make your business customer centric. Nor does having an army of ‘process improvement professionals’ trying to FIX stuff based on measurement systems that are not representative of all customers and the true ‘end to end’ customer journey. This leads me to the next piece of the puzzle….


Without full possession of ‘the facts’ and a limited understanding of what the customer is actually experiencing, determining how to deploy specialist business improvement and service design resources becomes mighty challenging. It is no surprise to me that more often than not, process improvement professionals are not being deployed to improve the priorities in the customer journey – they are actually being used to eliminate cost for the benefit of the business – usually to the detriment of the Customer Experience. This is what happens if the pieces of the CX jigsaw are not connected. Not connecting the jigsaw also has a negative affect on the engagement of an organisations own people….


I have been known to say on many an occasion that you can never over communicate when it comes to Customer Experience. Failure to transmit all of the previously described pieces of the jigsaw puzzle is very likely to result in your own people losing sight of exactly what the Customer Experience means to them – if anything at all. It is impossible to deliver the Customer Experience without your people – your brand proposition becomes defunct in the absence of them – which is why it is so vitally important that they can see whatever your CX completed jigsaw puzzle picture is supposed to be as often as possible!

I could go on – adding more granularity to the jigsaw puzzle pieces – yet I hope that the ones I have described have brought to life the importance of the analogy. To be able to construct the jigsaw – you need to define WHAT you want the picture to be – the outcome – the strategy – the BUSINESS & CUSTOMER STRATEGY. Aligning what the customer wants to what the business wants will then give your organisation a chance to piece all of its valuable activity together to get to the ultimate prize – an embedded Customer Centric culture.jigsaw-complete

This post is written in honour of CX Day 2016 – a celebration of the Customer Experience Profession and the amazing work being done by CX Professionals all around the world to develop and embed the competencies that are enabling organisations across all industries to deliver ever better Customer Experiences.

I am immensely proud to be part of a wonderful community of committed, passionate, driven professionals. Find out more about the Customer Experience Professionals Association here!