Perhaps you’re familiar with the term user experience (UX) but aren’t quite sure if customer experience (CX) and UX are one in the same or different concepts altogether. Well, they are different, albeit slightly. CX is a relatively older theory that originated alongside marketing theories in the 1960s, while UX really wasn’t invented until the 1990s when Don Norman wrote about it in his OG UX book, “The Design of Everyday Things.”
And while CX is a vital part of UX, and both are closely intertwined and critical for brand success, the two have some fundamental differences worth distinguishing, so let’s get into them.
What’s the Difference Between UX and CX
To understand the differences between UX and CX, it’s essential to define both terms.
What is User Experience (UX)
User experience (commonly referred to as UX) is a field of design that focuses on how people interact with a (typically digital) product. It explores how design makes the user feel and seeks to create solutions that will produce the greatest pleasure and harmony for the user’s end experience. In other words, it defines how usable a product is.
UX often focuses on information architecture, A/B testing, visual hierarchy, prototyping, and navigability.
Learn more: 5 Elements of UX Design
What is Customer Experience (CX)
Customer experience (CX) is a bit broader in scope than UX. Rather than focusing on a user’s journey with a specific process, CX looks at the entire landscape of customer interactions—be it advertising strategy, brand image, website/digital product usability, customer service, or the ordering process as a whole (from manufacturer to store to customer).
CX is essentially UX to a broader degree, just with more emphasis on the entirety of the customer experience.
CX vs. UX
So, by now, you may be thinking, “these two concepts still sound pretty similar.” And you know what? You aren’t entirely wrong. The two share many commonalities, so it’s crucial to break down the minutia of just where exactly the two concepts differ.
CX and UX Have Two Very Different Client Bases
Customer interaction typically caters to a different audience than user experience—primarily, CX caters to the retail and hospitality industries, where the customer experience is vital to the flow of business and where brand image can make or break an entire company. CX is also implemented on a much more macro level, meaning it is often utilized to impress those with purchasing power and attract buyers to the products and services you’ve designed.
On the other hand, UX is used in a broader range of settings, from government software to educational products to SaaS products and a host of other digital products like websites or phone apps. UX is solely focused on the product’s user. And while UXers still care about cohesiveness with brand image, it’s not their primary concern like it is for a CXer.
Learn more: 9 Best Practices Every UX Designer Should Know
Both Fields Measure Success by Slightly Different Standards
User experience professionals are concerned with the overall usability of their product and, thus, are concerned with metrics relating to user reviews, survey scores, app store feedback, and accessibility rankings.
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CXers are more worried about customer retention and the reasons that cause customers to stick with a company or leave a company over a period of time. Typical metrics that CXers use to gauge success rates include anything that measures customer satisfaction and loyalty (such as CLV, CES, or NPS scores).
Typical Day-to-Day Tasks Vary
UX designers focus on the person who will ultimately end up using their product, while CX designers focus on the aspects of the product that attract buyers to purchase it (for instance, why a CEO is inclined to acquire a customer management software system).
Ergo, a UX designer’s daily tasks will involve processes related to ironing out the kinks and bugs that users may face when interacting with the product on a regular basis. This could include tasks like smoothing out form fields to ensure customer complaints are quickly submitted via a website, scaling app buttons so users can easily navigate a phone app, or designing a user’s journey for a specific task like registering for an app.
How Do UX and CX Work Together?
CX and UX go hand-in-hand, and you can’t have one without the other. Both processes focus on the consumer’s satisfaction with the product, and both understand that the brand is likely to suffer if the product isn’t usable or marketable. Obtaining the product must be seamless and make the customer happy (CX), and the actual product itself must be enjoyable to use (UX).
Brand image is built upon the principles of CX, and thus, customer service, response to negative feedback, and ease of service all cultivate a positive brand image. However, CX can only go so far in addressing negative feedback, whereby UX can actively respond to the issues arising in the user’s journey using the product and respond to customer complaints. Together, the two fields work to create a better experience for everyone.
While CX focuses more on how the product is perceived by those who purchase it (such as CEOs, investors, etc.), UX is concerned with making a product that is enjoyable to use by the employees or consumers who are intended to use it.
UX and CX, while slightly different, are two fields seeking to address similar issues. Together, they work harmoniously to create a brand identity that is appealing, trustworthy, and known for its stellar product design amongst purchasers and users.
Interested in creating a better customer experience for your users? We can help with that! Our experts are trained in website and in-app design best practices and can help boost your UX/UI goals to the next level. We’d love to chat about your product or idea— schedule a free consultation with one of our expert designers here. Let’s make something great together.
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