Digital Transformation Series

The X Factor: What is the difference between User experience and Customer Experience

The X Factor: What is the difference between User experience and Customer Experience

Engaging with your target audience is a priority goal for most organisations. Therefore it is essential to understand the key concepts which underpin this mission, such as User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (CX). Many will use these two terms interchangeably or assume that UX refers only to digital experiences, whilst CX encompasses digital and physical experiences. Whilst the latter is somewhat true, it is an oversimplification. In this blog we will explore the subtle difference between the two terms and why is it so important for companies to grasp.

The distinction between UX and CX

Customer experience is a term that has traditionally been used in the service industry, especially in restaurants, hotels and retail. User Experience, on the other hand, has been adopted by the digital world to describe the interactions which customers have online with your brand.  However, the real distinction between UX and CX arises when we look at the importance and frequency of the interaction between the user and the company , regardless of whether it is on a screen or in-person.

Whilst UX describes single interactions and journeys of multiple interactions between an organisation and a customer, CX represents a lifetime of successful interactions between the customer and company to build a brand-customer relationship.

The single-interaction level

According the Nielsen Norman group, at the single-interaction level, it is important to consider the experience of the user whilst they perform a specific task – either digital or physical. These individual experiences represent a small part of a customer journey and an even smaller part of the overall customer-brand relationship. Interactions may include downloading key resources, signing up to a newsletter or ordering a coffee in a café.

At the interaction level it is important to consider the information architecture, visual design and functionality of each interaction. This will ensure the task is easy to perform. At this level, users are looking to complete tasks efficiently and will look out for simple calls to action as cues to assist them.

The journey level

A customer journey is made up from a series of related interactions that form together to create an end-to-end process that a customer must navigate through in order to complete a goal. At the journey level, it is important to consider the user experience of each individual interaction but also the relationship between them. Journeys of interactions should maintain the quality of experience across the channels. Examples of a customer journey might include filing an insurance claim or booking a holiday.  

At the interaction level it is important to ensure that there is consistent messages across the channels and interactions required to complete the task. This may mean using consistent terminology or maintaining the same look and feel.

The relationship level

Now let’s look at the bigger picture. Optimising your customer experience means considering the small interactions, customer journeys and how these relate to the broad company mission, brand and personality. At the relationship level, CX will consider the value of interactions throughout the life of the customer. Here you must look at your entire organisations’ procedures which have touchpoints with customers. These include:

  • Customer service
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Email
  • Value offering
  • Shop design
  • Quality of products and services

Nailing user experience at the interaction and journey level does not guarantee you will master customer experience at a relationship level. To master CX takes dedication, planning and strategies to put your customer at the centre of all the moving parts of your organisation.

Final thoughts

The commonality of all these terms is that humans are at the centre of digital and physical experience. However, the way in which they interact will differ depending on the specific task or goal they want to achieve. Therefore recognizing the components that make up successful UX vs successful CX will ensure you organisation can win every time.

Here at ClerksWell, we understand how difficult it might be to build strategies that put your users at the centre.

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