There is a lot of debate about the difference between User Experience and Customer Experience. People are often confused about if there is actually any difference at all between the two! The term “User Experience” and “Customer Experience” are fundamentally different from each other, yet complement each other to make great solutions for great customer experiences and journeys. Our users are our customers, right? So where is the difference? Shouldn’t Customer Experience and User Experience mean the same thing? These questions are valid and make complete sense too. We will get to know more about each one of them in this article which will make it easy for you to understand the difference between them.
Being in this field since over 2 decades now, I as a domain expert know the difference between the two and will help you understand the same too. It is not as complex as it seems to be, trust me! So to start with, let’s address User Experience as UX and Customer Experience as CX. UX and CX are two distinctive terms and to give your audience the best experience it is important to understand the value each one of these terms adds to the overall experience an individual has with your product or service. In the end, every brand wants to give its audience the best overall user and customer experience and uplift their engagement with their audience.
The term UX has been around since a long time and people have been associating with it since a very long time too. However, on the other hand, CX which is Customer Experience, is a relatively new concept in the market. CX as a concept was bought about by Don Norman in the 90s. CX has only started to gain recognition in the recent years as compared to UX which has been popular since longer.
User Experience is basically how a user feels while they are interacting with an interface of a product or service. This could be a website, application, desktop software etc. This is denoted as HCI which means human-computer interaction. The design, navigation, interface, usability, the hierarchy of information, information architecture all combined together create user experiences for the audience who engage with the product or service.
What is Customer Experience?
As complex as this may sound, Customer Experience is nothing but the overall impression a brand leaves for its users. This results in how the users actually feel about your brand throughout the engagement they have with it. There could be multiple touchpoints and these touchpoints happen on a cross-functional basis. It would not be wrong if we say that CX sort of envelopes UX. All in all, Customer Experience means the overall experience a user has with all aspects and sections of a brand or a company.
Now that we have an idea about what UX and CX is, let’s understand how they differ from each other yet are very important to parallelly co-exist to make any brand a hit and likable for their target audience.
3 Key differences between User Experience & Customer Experience
Two areas of focus to create both good user experiences and good customer experiences are people and the product/service they are interacting with. As we mentioned above that UX and CX both need to co-exist to create great experiences for the target audience. They may not be interdependent on each other but both this expertise should be parallelly aligned to create solutions that meet user expectations. Here are 3 parameters that show how both User Experience and Customer Experience differ from each other.
Customer Experience experts use metrics like customer lifetime value (CLV), net promoter score (NPS), customer effort score (CES), churn rate and retention rate to understand the overall experience a user has with a particular brand. While, UXers use metrics like app store ratings, usability testing reports, user research recordings, user behaviour, pain-points of users etc. to get an in-depth understanding of how users perceive the brand to be like and how usable their service or product is from a digital point of view.
UX designers use these metrics to understand the usability of a product or service straight from the users themselves. CXers on the other hand use these metrics to analyze and evaluate the number of customers a brand has gained or lost, and how successful their product or service is among their audience.
2. The nature of work
User Experience is mainly related to digital assets and digital platforms like websites, mobile applications etc. UX designers work for digital products. Whereas, services in sectors like hospitality, retail etc. are associated with Customer Experience. UX focuses on how users interact with digital assets. For e.g. how users navigate through a website journey, how they check out from the journey or how they perform activities on a mobile application to purchase something or engage with the brand. While CX on the other hand focuses on the overall experience a user has with a particular brand. For e.g. how does the user feel when they enter a showroom, how they expect specific counters in a shop or showroom to be placed like or just a general experience they have with a brand like speaking to their customer care representatives.
3. Area of expertise
A good Customer Experience focuses on all aspects of interactions an individual has with the brand, while a good User Experience focuses on a few aspects of interactions an individual has with the brand. Let’s say that the Sales Head of a company wants to purchase software for his company which would be used by all the staff members. A CX professional ensures that the Sales Head has a smooth experience in buying the required software and the UX designer ensures that the software is user-friendly, easy to understand and fun to interact with for the staff members.
So, while User Experience looks after the interface, and has much to do with technology, it is only a part of the larger picture. Whereas, Customer Experience on the other hand takes care of all touchpoints a user has with the brand.
UX vs. CX — Final Thoughts
We can say that CX is the bigger umbrella of which UX is the strongest and most influential element. While Customer Experience looks after the overall experience a customer has with a brand, User Experience is an imperative part of it. Everything is technologically driven nowadays so transforming digital assets and updating them regularly as per the market trend is very important. This is because a large number of individuals very often engage with brands online through digital mediums. For e.g if a person wants to buy a fridge, it is very likely that they will first browse about the fridge online before actually going to the store to purchase it. This is also because it is more convenient.
Very often it is noticed that the audience engagement and interaction with brands is primarily through digital platforms like websites, mobile applications, search engines etc. So UX designers have to create great experiences for users so that the overall Customer Experience is enhanced. We can conclude by saying that both User Experience and Customer Experience are great in giving users a good experience with the brand they interact with and both should co-exist for brands to do well.