CX vs UX in the Era of Experience

Masha Panchenko

We all know that we should not confuse user experience with customer experience but… What is the real difference?

There's nothing as tricky as specific terms that sound "obvious" and make us feel like we know exactly what they mean since everyone knows what is user and what is experience, right?

To put it simply, UX (user experience) is about all the interaction that end-user  has with a website or app. CX (customer experience) is the interaction with all the facets of business: sales manager, customer service assistance, website, and so on. Here is a visual representation of CX and UX:

CX - all user/brand interactions. UX - digital products

Another abbreviation that might add to the confusion is UI, which stands for user interface. User interface is all that’s in between human and computer: menus, icons, sounds, animation, and so on. UI goes hand in hand with UX. To learn more about the difference between them, read our article “UI vs UX. Ketchup, Chicken, and Egg”.

UI, UX, and CX are all part of the same pie. For now, let's focus on CX and UX differences.

Marketing vs design

However close these terms might seem, UX and CX specialists belong to different departments. Customer experience is the responsibility of the marketing team, while user experience is the object of product design.

For both departments, experience is one of the key focuses. Nowadays businesses know that people are willing to pay 4,5 times more for a good customer experience. The vast majority of people check reviews before making buying decisions and trust them more than any other marketing message. The feedback economy is taking over the business world.

As a design agency, we deal mostly with user experience, but communication with the marketing team in order to better understand customers’ needs and problems is a must for our work.

User vs Customer

One of the simplest ways to explain the difference between customer experience and user experience is to understand what is the difference between customer and user. These terms are easier than CX and UX, but still, some people think that they are interchangeable. Especially those who work with digital products often call customers users and vice versa.

For them, the word user is quite clear: these are the people who use your websites, apps, and whatever other things you produce.

What about customers? This is a much older term. Each business has customers: banks, shops, medical institutions, and so on. In digital products, there are customers, too. They are the people who buy the product.

An example: if you are creating a B2B solution, and your sales manager is working with one person on the client’s side. This person is the customer. The rest of the client’s team are the product users. In this case, there can be one customer and 50 users.

Of course, the customer and the end user can be the same person. However, their experience can be different, as we have explained above. Users may find the website great but be disappointed by the price change or slow tech support. On the other hand, a customer can suffer from a badly designed website, while still loving the product (though bad UX would surely affect CX).

Objectives. WHAT are they doing?

What are the ultimate goals of user experience design and customer experience management, except for “improve the experience”? Let’s see one by one.

UX

All the main objectives of UX professionals are related to human/ digital product interactions. Here are some of them:

  • Improve app usability. Usability means that the navigation is understandable, people can find what they are looking for, and they enjoy the process of interaction. It is called human-centered design.
  • Analyze the process of user interaction, find weak points and the ways to improve them. This process starts with UX research and goes through various iterations of the design process and user testing.
  • Decrease bounce rate (a number that shows how often users give up on a task, such as registering on the website). This is an example of a more concrete goal. We’ll talk more about UX metrics later.

CX

While UX objectives are laid in the product design field, CX objectives are closer to business goals.

  • Build brand loyalty of the customers by providing them with a superior experience. Knowing that the brand provides a much better experience than the competitors, customers will be coming back again and again, sticking with the brand even when others provide similar products at a cheaper price.
  • Turn customers into brand ambassadors. Loyal customers bring value not just by buying products, but also by recommending the product to others. In an environment oversaturated with ads, word of mouth is one of the cheapest and most efficient means of marketing.
  • Increase ARPU (Average revenue per user). This is the ultimate business objective that every product hopes to achieve with the help of customer experience. The principle is simple: happy customers are likely to buy again and more.

Tools and methods. HOW do they do it?

The most important thing in both customer and user experience is the research. To improve the experience, we have to know what the customers/users’ needs and problems are. We can't assume what are the problems of the customers if there was no research conducted. 

Both CX and UX research rely heavily on interviews. Some other common tools include field research, questionnaires, and competitor analysis.

UX

  • Usability testing implies having a group of people using the product while the researcher observes their interaction and asks them to complete tasks. Analyzing the usability of the product is the basis of the UX research.
  • Empathy mapping is the process of listing all the insights that researchers gained during user interviews. Here is an example of a map that we made during our work with Gridle, a CRM platform.
empathy map
Empathy map for Gridle by Eleken
  • Digital tools for eye tracking, mouse tracking, or similar stuff to help you find specific things in the app that need improvement. Check out the list of top UX research tools that our designers use.
Image credit: MeasuringU

To better understand the UX research process, read our article about UX research methods.

CX

  • Customer journey map (CJM) is a visualization of all the interactions that a customer has with a product/business from discovery to the moment when they tell their friends about the great experience they’ve had. Check out some examples of CJM to grasp the idea.
Customer journey map of a university. Image credit: Chris Becker
  • Reputation Experience Management (RXM) systems monitoring is one of the most efficient ways to keep track of basic CX metrics, watch trends, and gather feedback. For smaller companies that don’t have a whole CX department, CRM systems can also be used as a tool for customer experience management.
  • Social media monitoring. Watching reviews on the App store is essential, but a look at brand mentions in social media can give more insights about personal relations with the product.

Key metrics. How do they MEASURE success?

One of the biggest achievements of the CX and UX profession is finding a way of measuring such an intangible thing as experience. And these experiences are measured in different ways when we talk about customer and user experience.

UX

  • Time per task, TPT. How much time does it take for an average user to complete a task? Some examples of user tasks: buy a pair of sunglasses, register for an online event, find information about pricing. This metric is based on the results of user testing with many participants.
Time per Task = (user1+user2+user3)/the total number of respondents
  • Error rate. How often do users enter incorrect information? The error rate is measured in percentages, based on the results of user testing. The number is calculated as the average of the number of errors divided by the number of attempts.
Error rate=the number of errors/number of task attempts
  • System usability scale, SUS. The scale consists of ten standard questions that users ask as a part of the questionnaire. Adding more questions and customizing the questionnaire is recommended, but the standard scale is useful for comparing your product with the competitors.
10 questions about the system usability. 1) I think I would like to use this system frequently --- etc
System usability scale. Image credit: Diarmuid Lane

These are just a few of the UX metrics. To learn more, read our article on measuring user experience.

CX

UX metrics have an impact on customer experience, so CX professionals usually keep track of them as well. In addition, there are exclusively CX KPIs, such as:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT). This metric requires no complicated formulas: it is basically the 5-star ranking that you can leave as feedback on different platforms such as the App store, Facebook, Clutch. As simple as this, CSAT is arguably the most popular customer experience metric.
  • Churn rate shows the percentage of users who stop using your services and is typically measured yearly. Although there might be different reasons for customers to leave, making them stay is one of the principal responsibilities of the CX professionals.
  • Net promoter score (NPS) is a way of measuring customer loyalty and clients’ willingness to recommend the product to others. It is calculated based on the questionnaire, defining the number of fans (promoters) and detractors (unsatisfied customers). Customers are asked a single question:
On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company's product or service to a friend or a colleague?   0-6=detractors.  7-8=passives   9-10=promoters       NPS= # of promoters - # of detractors

Conclusion

Hopefully, after reading this, you'll never confuse customer and user experience again. To sum up, the principal differences between CX and UX are the following :

  • CX is about marketing, UX is about product design.
  • UX is about the interaction of end users with digital products, CX is about the interaction of customers (buyers) with business in all aspects: sales, customer service, offline store.
  • CX includes UX but has a larger scope.

As product designers, we take into account customer experience specifics, metrics, and objectives, but focus on the user experience. If you want to learn more about UX, read our article on the UX design process.

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