User experience (UX) or customer experience (CX)? What’s in a name?

3 years ago by Glyn Dore

Every organisation knows that they need to design their products and services around their customers and, to get the edge on your competitors, the user experience needs to be fantastic. But is user experience the same as customer experience?

UX (user experience) is all about how people interact with a website, app, interface or other digital device and encompasses areas such as usability, design, navigation and site structure. Of course, it’s vital that not only does the interface work on a functional level, it should be designed with users in mind so that it’s at least easy and intuitive (and, preferably, fantastic).

CX (customer experience), on the other hand, considers how people feel about any interaction with the brand or organisation, whether digital or otherwise. It looks at attitudes, opinions and emotions that we have when thinking about brands we know. For example, how do I find the quality of the products I ordered? What was delivery like? Was it on time? Was the delivery driver helpful? Even though the delivery may be made by a third party courier company, the customer experience of the retailer is still influenced by the great (or otherwise) delivery experience. UX is therefore only part of the overall CX picture.

How does this look in practice?

As an example, I booked a flight this morning on a low-cost airline website. Highly-optimised, you might think – and surely, designed 100% with the user in mind. Not quite – there was definitely room for improvement. Just one glaring problem presented itself when I had to enter my mobile number. Not only did the leading zero need to be omitted (although it didn’t explain this), but the field was not wide enough on the screen to see the whole number when typed in – very frustrating! There are clearly some user experience issues that need to be ironed out and may be causing a drop-off in conversions.

Thinking about the customer experience, I have never flown with this airline before, so my only attitudes and emotions are based on PR, advertising and word of mouth. It’s only when I complete my physical journey that my customer experience will be more rounded than just the digital experience that I have so far – let’s hope it’s on time and stress-free!

From our perspective, you need to consider the overall customer experience when looking at your UX. Ignoring all the other touchpoints of the customer journey risks leaving the whole experience disjointed and disappointing for the customer. So – what’s in a name? From an organisation’s point of view, looking at someone as a user, a customer, a client, a prospect, a visitor etc. makes sense when thinking about projects, workstreams and team structures. But from your customer’s / user’s / prospect’s point of view, remember that the whole experience is what counts – it needs to go above and beyond current expectations to make sure your brand gets talked about.

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