min read
May 23, 2016

Understanding the differences between customer experience and user experience

Customer Experience
Digital Trends
User Experience

Do you know the differences between CX and UX? If not, it could be damaging the way you do business. There’s a lot of confusion when people and companies talk about customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX). Some think they are the same discipline, and use the terms interchangeably. Others assume they serve the same business function. The ultimate truth, however, is that CX and UX are two different disciplines that serve two different purposes. In order to best serve the customer, it is imperative for companies to have a full understanding of what these two separate, yet overlapping, customer-serving functions do.

Customer Experience: A Holistic Look at All Customer Touchpoints

Customer experience encompasses the entirety of the experience that a customer (or user) has whenever they interact with a company or brand across all touchpoints. This interaction spans all contexts, devices, products or channels.A CX professional evaluates the entire customer experience and journey and uses in-depth business knowledge to improve any areas. The most common responsibilities of CX professionals include:

  • Develop the customer experience strategy
  • Prioritize work
  • Drive/deliver on KPIs
  • Lead journey mapping
  • Manage voice-of-customer program
  • Define success metrics
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Develop processes, standards, guidelines, and policies
  • Lead training and learning initiatives
  • Foster a customer-centric culture

User Experience: A Piece of the Customer Experience Puzzle

On the other hand, user experience is product or service specific. It pertains to the experience that a user (or customer) has when they interact with a product or service. This can mean enabling customers to find your website quickly and easily, or the ability to clearly and intuitively understand and use a product or service.UX professionals require more specialized skills as their focus is on the company’s products or services. The most common responsibilities of UX professionals include:

  • Set experience vision
  • Prioritize work
  • Plan and conduct user research
  • Develop customer understanding models (e.g., personas, flows)
  • Gather design requirements
  • Drive design solutions
  • Prototype and test experiences
  • Know about design trends
  • Develop processes, standards, guidelines, and policies

Where CX and UX Merge

If you were to compare CX and UX to typical job roles within a company, the relationship between these two would look a lot like that of a manager and a direct report. CX would be the manager, overseeing the many facets of the department, while UX would be in charge of successfully running their own specialized area of expertise within that department. Similar to the management relationship, the success of CX depends on every piece of the customer’s experience—including any interaction a customer has with a product and/or service (which is UX’s area of expertise).While these two customer-serving functions have their differences, it’s important to integrate CX and UX within your organization. Having a positive user experience does not result in a positive customer experience—and a bad user experience can negatively affect the customer’s opinion of the company. The bottom line is: One simply cannot live without the other, and therefore both disciplines need to come together to ensure the best holistic experience for users/customers. By building a comprehensive and unified CX/UX strategy, a company stands to create:

  • Consistent experiences across the board.
  • A bridge between digital and physical experiences in the customer journey.
  • Higher customer satisfaction.
  • An increased success rate in meeting customer needs.
  • Improved relationships between the brand and customers.
  • Ensured brand consistency across all touchpoints.

However, in order to achieve the above, the company must set the tone, pace and trajectory with both the CX and UX teams from the start. Businesses need to make it clear to these teams that the company’s goals are to integrate the two functions and maintain that integration at all times. This cannot exist in a company that works in silos. The business must encourage teams on both sides to have working knowledge of their respective counterpart, so that they are constantly thinking and operating with the other in mind—and vice versa.Most of all, remember that great CX and UX stems with the customer in mind. Set this customer-centric strategy as your foundation in both departments, as well as collectively, and you’ll see greater success in meshing the two to the benefit of your customer satisfaction and bottom line.

Centric Digital