UX and CX: What’s the difference?

July 27, 2017

Using a smart phone to call customer service for a good customer experience

Picture this. You’ve just bought a brand spanking new state of the art television for your home theatre. You can’t contain your excitement so run home and set to work in putting it together.

You’re almost done configuring the TV when uh-oh, you run into some trouble. “How do I connect the screen to the stand?” you ask yourself. You read the instruction manual but still can’t figure it out. “Not to worry! I’m sure the website will have an answer to my problem,” you exclaim, as your mobile loads up the company website.

You’ve just clicked onto the FAQs tab, when the website crashes. Starting to get slightly frustrated now, you punch in the customer support line number into your smart phone. Much to your surprise, after a mere 2 rings, you are greeted by a friendly customer service representative who explains what you need to do and apologises for the inconvenience by offering you a $50 complimentary gift card to spend in store. Suddenly, you’ve turned that frown upside down!

Now let’s do a ‘Groundhog Day’ scenario. You’re back to where you started, at the store making a decision to purchase the TV. The sales representative isn’t entirely clued in to your TV’s features.

He also doesn’t seem to have an answer as to why the tag price in-store and the catalogue price don't match up. Eventually, you proceed to the counter to pay but are met with a long queue. You’re pressed for time so decide to leave.

Getting home, you decide to give online shopping a crack. Not only is the mobile website visually appealing and easy to use, you find the TV model quickly with supporting pop-ups that provide a comprehensive list of specifications and features... and because you’re buying online, you receive a 10% discount. A few clicks later and after a pleasurable online shopping experience, you’re the proud owner of a new TV. You’re a happy camper!

customer online transaction

Online shopping convenience is a click away with this great user experience

In both of the aforementioned scenarios, two concepts are largely at play; customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) both of which work together to provide an overall pleasant experience for the customer. Before touching on each of these buzz words and delving into the difference between the two, let’s diverge for a few seconds and reflect on some statistics.

Did you know that the cost of attracting new customers is six-to-seven times greater than that associated with retaining your existing customers? Additionally, statistics show that 55% of customers are willing to pay more for a product or service if they know they will have a good experience when engaging with a brand.

In light of this information, why then, would you not capitalise on this opportunity by creating delightful experiences to attract, convert and retain customers who would in turn act as brand advocates and draw new customers to your company? Seems easy enough but how can brands make sure they create these remarkable experiences for their customers in the first place? The answer lies in two concepts – UX and CX.


User Experience (UX)

As explained in Jerry Cao’s article, UX is the term mostly given to the experience a user derives when engaging with, more often than not, a digital product such as a mobile or desktop website, an app, software, a kiosk or any other digital interface. UX goes beyond the look of the product to the complete experience a user acquires from the interaction. Factors such as the interface design, usability, learnability and navigation can affect the UX of a product.

 UX is measured through metrics such as the abandonment rate or clicks to completion of say, a website. If you’ve spent more than a couple of seconds on a website and left to look for information elsewhere, you’re not alone. Here lies the premise of why a good UX design is quintessential for a company. With shorter attention spans, brands must compete for consumers’ time by providing a seamless UX that caters to users needs and enables them to perform their tasks quickly and effortlessly.  

UX designers, in employing a user-centred approach, should call on the help of personas and customer journey maps when designing and should be sure to ask themselves:

  • Who they are designing for?
  • What are the users needs that must be fulfilled?
  • Does the (digital) product meet these needs?

By being empathic and keeping these questions at the forefront of their minds, UX designers can use techniques such as user testing, wireframes and A/B testing to better understand the why behind users behaviours with a digital product. These insights can then be used to remove any friction between a user and an interface. As a result, the UX creates user satisfaction and loyalty through the increased usability and desirability associated with use of a product.

A brand however, cannot solely rest on the laurels of UX to increase its bottom line and see customers knocking at its front door. UX must work with CX to provide a good experience for a customer. So let’s take a closer look at CX.


Customer Experience (CX) 

In a goods and services saturated world where brands aggressively fight for a slice of your attention and … pay cheque, a company’s ability to fend-off competitors and create a competitive advantage lies in its ability to provide value to its customers through its degree of differentiation. So how is this differentiation and value acquired? Through providing a truly fantastic customer experience that sees customers coming back for more whilst bringing others out in droves.

Customer experience encompasses the entire experience a customer has with a company. Unlike UX, which predominantly focuses on the online experience, CX, as outlined in Tim Lowden’s article in Digital Gov, entails the experience a customer has with all the touch points of a brand, both online and offline, such as in-store, on the phone, through an app or a website. CX can be shaped by elements such as customer service, product delivery, advertising, reputation and anything else in between that shapes your brand experience as a customer.

CX is all about how you make your customers feel and therefore is measured with key metrics such as net promoter scores, and more often than not, customer loyalty and satisfaction. Think about it, only if you’ve had a good experience with a brand, are you likely to recommend this to your network. A company that provides a good experience, can attract, convert and retain customers, and drive down their marketing costs when these consumers go on to become brand advocates.

With 90% of users completing a task across multiple devices, brands that utilise an omnichannel approach to marketing, create the best customer experiences where each channel interacts with the other. If you’re anything like me, it can be quite an ordeal trawling through endless items on your phone, adding these to your basket, only to find that it's empty when you proceed to finalise the purchase on your laptop. How then does a company create a bulletproof method ensuring that a customer’s experience is pleasurable across all their interactions with a brand? You guessed it - Human-centred design!

Companies can work to design an experience that delights customers at every touch point by creating customer experience maps, more commonly known as customer journey maps.  Before progressing to the customer journey stage of the human centred design methodology however, it is crucial that in-depth personas, which are representations of a company’s ideal customer, are drawn up and shared with everyone in the company. On the basis of these personas then, a customer journey can be mapped out.

To provide an excellent customer experience a customer journey map must seek to answer:

  • How a customer feels at each touch point
  • A customer's motivations to move from one touch point to another
  • The underlying reasons for transitioning between touch points

When marketers and designers use the insights uncovered from these questions to inform their product and service design decision, they are better placed to not only meet, but exceed a customer’s needs thus creating an outstanding customer experience.

With research pointing to an alarming 86% of customers willing to pay more for a quality customer experience, its no wonder companies are jumping on board the CX bandwagon to drive up their bottom line and gain an advantage over their competitors.

Hold on a minute.  So assuming a customer is a user and a user is a customer then customer experience and user experience would have to be the same thing. Right?....Wrong.


The difference between UX and CX

The below infographic sheds light on the difference between UX and CX. Prima facie, it’s easy to see how the two concepts differ. CX is the umbrella term given to the sum of interactions a customer has with all the facets of a brand. From advertising to customer service, right through to product delivery, the overall affect of each of these interactions shapes the way a customer feels about a product or service offering. Unlike customer experience, UX homes in on one element of CX by focusing solely on the experience a user has with a company’s specific product, be it digital like a website or app, or physical.

user experience and customer experience.png

I like to use the below infographic to illustrate the relationship between user experience and customer experience. Simply put, and as described in Blake Morgan’s article in Forbes, user experience is a huge constituent of the customer experience.

CX and UXThough customer experience and user experience are two different concepts, I cannot stress enough the importance of them working together to contribute to a business’s success.  

Let’s take a moment to digress to our scenarios at the beginning of this blog post. In the first scenario we witnessed an instance of a bad UX compensated by a good CX whilst in scenario 2, we observe the contrary – a bad CX combatted by a good UX.  What do both of theses scenarios have in common? In both instances, either the CX or the UX work to save the day leaving the customer walking away and feeling content. But let’s not be fooled. I’m an optimist at heart and have created a “happily ever after” ending for both scenarios. The reality however, can be quite different and often catastrophic for a company.

Poor UX could leave a prospect questioning the credibility of your brand and its services. On the other hand, all the efforts of providing a seamless and pleasurable UX can be ripped to shreds when an interaction with a customer service representative goes pear-shaped. 

The scenarios in this blog post reinforce that CX and UX are two different entities that cannot thrive without the other and must work in unison to create a delightful experience for a company’s customer. So how do we ensure that we’re taking a birds eye view of the experience and not tarnishing the UX at the cost of the CX or vice versa? I’ll give you a clue – I’ve touched on the solution twice in this blog. That’s right, our dear friends, customer journey maps!

To be truly successful, the information that is fed into customer journey maps must take into account insights and feedback from multiple departments not just designers. In this way, when a product or service design team comprising say customer experience representatives, product engineers and UX designers input their valuable insights when walking through the buyer's journey, they can realise how each of their roles is instrumental in providing customers a seamless experience which meets or exceeds their expectations.

In the same vein, customer experience yields as a result of all the business units and departments of an organisation working together. From the warehouse, to finance to marketing, it is essential that each department understands their role in providing a remarkable experience to customers.

So beware, a failure in either the UX or CX can lead to an overall bad taste in your customer’s mouth and as such … a negative word of mouth! Be kind to yourself and your company and always develop your good or service offering starting with who your customer is and their subsequent needs. Take it from me; your customers will thank you for it!

If you're interested to read more, you might also find this article helpful.


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At Marketing Entourage, we work with a number of not-for-profit organisations to help them stay competitive and realise their vision. If you’d like to know more about our methodology and services, take a look at the relevant pages on our website or Contact Us for a free consultation and see how we can help transform the way you market your not-for-profit organisation. 

by Meerah Tauqir

Meerah Tauqir

Written by Meerah Tauqir

Meerah is a marketing and account manager whose experience has come from working, both locally and internationally, for a combination of multinational corporates and boutique companies. Coupled with her commerce accounting and finance background, Meerah is equipped with a robust skills set that allows her to be both creative and analytical. Meerah enjoys staying on top of all things marketing and is particularly passionate about Marketing Communications, Brand Management and Digital Marketing.

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