Customer Experience Is Not User Experience

People are often confused as to the exact differences between Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX). Many Design projects are customer focused which means the customer and the end user are typically one and the same. This is usually where the confusion arises between CX and UX. To help clarify the clear differences between the two, I will explain in more detail what each term means and how they influence Design.

CX and UX represented using two phones with arms coming from them. The arms are holding hands.

The User Experience

UX focuses on how people interact with your product and the quality of their experience during that interaction. In a digital environment, every facet of the product impacts on the overall experience. Structural design (Information Architecture), speed of responsiveness, ease of comprehension, intuitive navigation and consistent branding – these all come together to create the full experience of a product.

The aim of good UX is to produce an overarching digital experience that provides a useful service for the end user. This should be in an efficient, pleasant and easy to understand format.

The Customer Experience

CX has a much wider scope than UX. It encompasses the customer experience across every aspect of a company. Interactions between a customer and the company’s channels feeds into that customer’s overall perception of the company and its brand. These channels can include anything from advertising, sales process and service charges to product delivery and customer service.

The aim of good CX is to provide pleasant and helpful interactions across all of its channels. It ensures that customers feel positive about all of their experiences with a brand.

A diagram showing CX vs UX. CX includes, Customer services, advertising, Brand reputation, sales process, pricing fairness and product delivery. The UX side includes Usability Interaction, DesignVisual Design, Information Architecture, Content Strategy and User Research.

Customer Satisfaction

CX and UX are very important to the overall success of a product. Both greatly impact upon a customers impressions of, and loyalty to, a brand or product. Customers interpret any interaction with a brand as their personal experience so all channels need to be aligned. A user friendly website, in-store customer care and the quality of outgoing ezines all impact upon the image of a brand.  Every user interaction matters, across both the real world and the digital realm. For satisfied and loyal customers, consistency is essential across the UX and CX spheres.

For example, consider a bus service that has an app that is easy to use, fast to load and allows you to check times and book your tickets effortlessly. That agreeable user experience (UX) means nothing if the bus arrives 30 minutes late, leaving passengers out in the cold and rain.  Conversely, a clothing store that offers friendly helpful and efficient service in store (CX) will loose face if their online store is slow, overloaded with advertisements and lets you purchase an item that they later notify you was out of stock.

CX + UX = Success

Rather than focusing on the differences between CX and UX, it is important to consider how they overlap and compliment each other. Working together they provide the best customer service a brand can offer. The CX across any digital platform depends very much on the UX of that product and the quality of the interactions it provides.

As a user-centred design agency, we focus on the digital realm and the interactions across all services in this sphere. As most of our clients’ businesses serve real customers, UX and CX become so closely aligned that they are sometimes indistinguishable from each other. That is where I believe the secret to real project success comes from. Do not in prioritise one over the other but give both equal consideration and attention. In the end, CX + UX = Success

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