There are four successful types of CX firm — which one are you? Research by Capgemini and MIT has identified four overarching customer-experience archetypes: Hosts, Companions, Advisors and Directors.
Of course the devil is in the detail and the reason question is how can companies go about securing the best outcomes. For instance, are the smart application of technologies and the clever use of data enough to provide the competitive CX advantage.
Not according according to many of the experts we have discussed this with. In order to really excel companies also need to align their culture and management thinking around really delivering the customer need. And they must be wiling to introduce the capabilities necessary to effect change.
In terms of the Capgemini study however a couple of factors where very clear.
All of these companies do two things very well: they introduce their customers into the company's value chain in a way that represents a fair exchange, and they utilise the customer’s information to deliver better services.
The study, called “From US to CX, Rethinking the Digital User Experience as a Collaborative Exchange”, argues that “firms doing business in the digital age must view their interactions with customers as embedded in an exchange economy, where both firms and customers seek to extract their own maximum value.”
The authors write that “… a win-win exchange equilibrium makes for a valuable user experience, where both the firm and the customer create and extract ’capital’ from the exchange.”
Not every business tackles this the same way. The CX archetypes identified in the report are described in the following terms:
- Hosts are firms that gather information about their users by opening up their value chain to shared participation. Companies that promote customer listening and interaction with the brand are most likely to be successful. A ride-share business, like Lyft, is an example of a Host.
- Companions are firms that work alongside their customers, so that the shared participation and gathered information about users can be leveraged to change the customer experience. Unlike Hosts, these companies actively leverage customer information to deliver a curated experience in return. Companies that promote connections or community building are the most likely to be successful, building social capital which can also lead to increased information capital.
- Advisors are firms that leverage information about their customers to further develop and refine their services. Unlike Companions, Advisors keep participation controlled by the company. Strategically, creating Advised exchanges makes sense when a company is trying to promote knowledge or expertise.
- Directors are firms that provide services and offerings based on controlled participation and information gathered by the firm. Unlike Advisors, firms gather information from their customers, but do not tend to leverage it to provide a personalised customer experience. Firms in this archetype promote reliance and security.
According to the authors, some industries are more likely to have a dominant archetype than others. They write that “Sectors that trade on security or that are highly regulated have a higher cost of failure when translating data into insights or opening their internal activities to participation.”
Banks and pharmaceuticals may more likely be Directors, they argue. “Conversely, sectors that are known as knowledge providers — such as healthcare organisations — are predominantly Advisors because they rely on leveraging data to create insights, while keeping their expertise internal.”