Skip to content

How Can First-class Customer Experience Differentiate You from the Competition?

The health crisis we have just gone through has upset customs and codes, giving rise to new practices and expectations on the part of consumers. New technologies have also accelerated trends: what was yesterday an innovation is quickly becoming a standard. Take the example of the QR code: the pandemic has made it a global phenomenon, whereas its adoption was previously very limited. Another example is contactless payment, which quickly became the standard when new expectations emerged as a result of the pandemic.

At the same time, the majority of companies consider that customer experience is a differentiating factor. However, how do you create preference in a market that is becoming more and more intense? 

The challenges related to experience are crucial for any company that wants to be sustainable. Today’s customers are more demanding and volatile. They are also more informed and seek new elements of value in their relationship with brands: immediacy, availability, social, environmental and societal commitment. 

Customers no longer judge a brand on value for money but on the experience they have. Faced with this, brands need to constantly adapt, sometimes even reinvent themselves, to continue to generate value. Further, they are increasingly constrained by strong regulatory frameworks, which force them to follow strict enforcement, without the possibility to differentiate themselves.

In a world where all brands cater to the same uses and needs, how do you differentiate yourself?

A brand that copies everything the other players do is bound to die due to lack of self-assertion and singularity. However, the desire to stand out from the competition should not lead to offering services that are too far removed from one’s initial offer or values. It is therefore not only a question of transforming these obligations into competitive advantages, but also of identifying the criteria of uniqueness that will enable the company to provide business value and user value. 

Creating an enriched and differentiating customer experience

At Devoteam Digital Impulse, we have created the experiential singularity matrix which has a double origin:

The need to have a simple framework to challenge certain clients who were convinced that they were in a very different and innovative position in the market when this was not always the case. 

The reading of a great classic of sociology, “The Iron-Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Field” published in 1983 by DiMaggio and Powell, whose approach seemed to us to be usefully transposable to the customer experience. Without any vulgarization, Dimaggio and Powell approach the concept of isomorphism as “the process that leads the unit of a population to resemble units facing the same environmental conditions.” DiMaggio and Powell identify three forms of Isomorphism: coercive, mimicry and normative.

In building its customer experience, a brand must, in addition to the excellence it must ensure in its basic contracts, look for markers of difference consistent with its values, its offers, and its positioning. To get away from this logic of Isomorphism, so to speak. 

We have therefore added a fourth axis, called uniqueness, in order to identify or bring out these markers of difference. This is certainly an aberration from the point of view of the initial academic approach, but it is very useful on a daily basis in the reflections that we carry out with and for our clients.

Thus, we present a matrix of experiential singularity outlining the evolution of customer experience in relation to natural changes in usage:

Normative, It has become a cultural standard, I can’t not do it

Unique, I am the only one to do so and I am legitimate

Mimetism. The leader does it, I have to do it, with or without conviction

Coercive. It is imposed and have to do it

  • The 1st axis of the dial, coercive. It positions the services that the brand is obliged to deploy because they are imposed by factors external or internal to the organization – legal, technical, organizational change.
  • the 2nd axis, mimicry. As the leader has deployed this service, you must deploy it, with or without conviction. It’s a matter of survival, so you do it, at the risk of seeing your customers escape to the competition. 
  • the 3rd axis, normative. All the players in the market have now adopted the new services; it has become a norm, a cultural standard. 
  • the 4th axis, uniqueness. You are the only one to offer this service, you are legitimate, and bring differentiating and singular elements.

How to use the customer experience positioning matrix?

Please note that this framework is not a tool to be used in an innovation process.  Its objective is not to take advantage of a constraint to turn it into an opportunity, but rather to :

  • challenge your teams on your current / future roadmaps: you may realize that many of your topics are not so unique!
  • help you position yourself in relation to competing practices and lead you to question your own current and targeted positioning.
  • identify market practices that feed your brand positioning

Normative, It has become a cultural standard, I can’t not do it

Unique, I am the only one to do so and I am legitimate

Mimetism. The leader does it, I have to do it, with or without conviction

Coercive. It is imposed and have to do it

Easy to use, this matrix prevents you from being a panic-stricken sheep! While you thought you were offering new services to your users, the final experience you offer is unfortunately not different from the other players in the market, because everyone copies each other in order to “stay in the race”. It’s time to ask yourself what differentiating elements to look for in order to continue to generate value for your target and to differentiate yourself from the competition, while remaining aligned with your positioning and your brand values.

Let’s take the example of La Poste. Faced with the explosion of online services and the arrival of many more aggressive players (Mondial Relay, Chrono shop2shop…), La Poste wondered how to react effectively. More than a simple service, La Poste is a social symbol. It therefore seemed only natural that it should differentiate itself by providing new and unique experiences, deeply rooted in its DNA, embodied by the person of the letter carrier (home services, daily services, looking after one’s parents, etc.) rather than copying its competitors in terms of delivery. 

Thus, this matrix allows you to innovate efficiently on the subjects on which your brand must focus. Its simplicity allows it to be used in different contexts: challenging a current positioning, or working on its evolution with the objective of making it unique and innovative.


To become an expert in customer experience, it is necessary to adopt a true culture of experience at all levels of the organization. In this perspective, the products developed must be based not only on design methods but also on data and on taking into account future users at each stage of the product’s life. In the end, it is the guarantee of being able to continue to adapt to a VICA environment.

Are you a decision-maker or a manager of a large company who wants to go further in integrating experience within your organization to make it more efficient and resilient? Devoteam Digital Impulse can advise and support you in your transformation. To learn more, contact our experts: Domitille Aulagnier-Collin and Jean-Philippe Bourdarie.