Ask the average person about the differences between the customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX), and you will likely get either a confused shrug or an uncertain nod of approval.
Unfortunately, you might not get a definitive answer from someone immersed in the tech world either — there’s a common misconception that CX and UX are one and the same.
However, a quick look beneath the surface reveals that CX and UX, although quite similar, are different things. They are not only designed to do different things, but they also behave differently as business optimization strategies.
You could make the argument that user experience is one part of the entire customer experience process. Still, companies and marketers who want to deliver genuinely great products and services need to understand both of the journeys taken by their target audience.
With that in mind, let’s dive deeper into the worlds of CX and UX and focus on some of the questions they tend to generate.
What Exactly is Customer Experience (CX)?
CX includes all the products and channels where customers interact with a brand, but the term is also used in relation to customers’ overall thoughts and feelings about the brand.
There are various touchpoints between the customer and the brand within a product’s lifecycle. The term “customer experience” is related to sensory, behavioral, affective, and cognitive responses that occur along these touchpoints.
The consumption process can be divided into various stages, but it is most commonly classified into the following:
- Pre-purchase stage
- Consumption stage
- Post-purchase stage
These stages directly affect a customer’s cumulative impression of the brand developed through the touchpoints mentioned above.
Any organization seeking to improve the users’ experience with its brands must put CX design into sharp focus. A good CX design team will monitor, assess, and optimize all brand-customer touchpoints.
As discussed above, CX is an umbrella term that refers to how users perceive a system, service, or product. From the perspective of the company, we can divide customer experience into the following categories:
- Customer service
- Sales process
- Brand reputation
- Product delivery
- Price fairness
- UX of individual products
CX consultants must combine the overall customer experience with individual business strategies, always focusing on customer happiness.
What Is User Experience (UX)?
We can define UX as a consumer’s perceptions and responses resulting from the use of a service or product. It includes the user’s beliefs, emotions, perceptions, preferences, psychological and physical reactions, accomplishments and behaviors occurring before, during, and after using a product or service.
In plain English, UX defines how the user interacts with a company, its products and services, in a single channel, whether traditional, print or digital media.
We all intuitively understand that a great user experience meets the users’ exact needs with elegance and simplicity, making the product a joy to use. However, the simplicity of the concept fails to convey the underlying factors that make the experience great.
Many people attribute the quality of the user experience to the intuitiveness and ease of use of the UI, but this is only one aspect.
For example, a movie review website could offer a wide variety of reviews, both good and bad. Even if the UI is perfect, allowing users to find the films they’re looking for in a few clicks, the site could still provide a bad user experience if its movie database is lacking.
So, even if a system is efficient, easy to learn, and pleasant to use, the overall UX could still be affected by other factors.
How Can CX and UX Work Together?
You can think of user experience as an essential component of the overall customer experience. The goal of both is customer satisfaction, so to deliver a top-notch experience to the customer, both UX and CX must work together.
Companies that understand the essential nature of the relationship between UX and CX will benefit greatly, as customers don’t mind spending up to 4.5x more when the customer experience is excellent.
So, how exactly do the two work together? For example, companies can leverage customer feedback to improve the user experience, and quickly upgrade the UX based on the input received from the end-users. In essence, a good UX design improves the overall CX.
Gaining User Experience Insights from Your Customer Support Team
Customer support is many customers’ first port of call. For this reason, customer support agents often bear the brunt of user complaints and have a lot of insight into the problems faced by the company’s systems and interfaces.
The call may be forwarded to tech support down the line, but the customer may disconnect before reaching tech support, which means talking to your customer support team is your best bet.
Ensuring a Great CX Through Top-Level UX on Each Platform
A top-notch UX also helps companies present each marketing channel properly and combine the right channels to reach each target demographic. This approach essentially enables brands to offer the same experience across a variety of devices.
Each channel represents a cog in the customer experience machine, and having a poor user experience on any device affects your overall CX results. Make sure to keep all your apps, websites, and social media pages in line with customer and user expectations if you want high levels of customer satisfaction.
Leveraging Social Media to Improve the Customer Experience
Companies can also leverage social data to inform their buyer personas and improve the overall customer experience. Hiring leading social media agencies is the most efficient way to do this, as modern shoppers are increasingly likely to follow their favorite brands on social media.
Before a buying decision is made, the modern consumer often performs an online search, moving through social media to finally end up in a store (either physical or online). The shopping experience should be intuitive and straightforward at each touchpoint along this journey for the best results.
The only way to improve the overall CX is to utilize UX to improve each channel by drawing on the available information on the customer journey and its role in the larger digital ecosystem.
Keeping the Checkout Process Simple
Whether you rely on recurring subscriptions or one-time purchases, keeping your purchase process simple is a crucial component of a good UX, and by extension, a high-quality CX. Customers do not enjoy wasting their time on incessant identity checks, nor do they like having to share excessive amounts of information before being allowed to purchase a product.
So, what is the best approach? There are a couple of things you can do to simplify the process:
- Test the checkout procedure periodically to see how long it takes to complete.
- Determine how bothersome the identity checks are while trying to remain as objective as possible.
The easier you can make the purchasing process, the more sales you’ll be making, at least in theory. If the customer experience on offer remains stellar throughout the buyers’ journey, you’re also more likely to receive recommendations and referrals to customers’ friends and family members.
TLDR: Why Is the Collaboration Between UX and CX Crucial?
Customer and user experience have never been more important to customer loyalty and brand reputation than they are today. So, it is safe to say that companies that fail to deliver on either front are almost guaranteed to experience at least a few obstacles, if not a noticeable decline in their overall success.
A good customer experience boosts brand loyalty, and to achieve it while remaining in line with the business’s optimization strategies, a good UX is critical.
While CX is correctly used as an umbrella term encompassing, but not limited to, UX and UI, marketers and business owners must understand that all three must work in unison to guarantee the overall success of a service, system, product, or brand.
Effective collaboration between CX and UX ultimately leads to happier customers, which is something that every business in the world should strive for.