What You Need to Know About CX vs. UX

Is there a difference between CX and UX? Very much so, and understanding will only help improve the customer journey.

Asking if customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) are the same will usually illicit a few different responses. Some would be in total agreement that they are, and others will be utterly confused. Why? Because there is an inherent belief that there is no difference between the two. If users are customers, then they must be the same, right? Wrong.

CX and UX are quite distinct. Companies who understand the distinction between the two are better equipped to provide the best possible experience in relation to their brand and products.

To clear up some confusion, let’s start by looking at the definition of each term.

What Is User Experience?

According to ISO 9241-210, the user experience is a person’s perceptions (per perceived perceptions) and responses before, during and after using a product or service. The UX is specific to how an end-user interacts with a company product; a website, software, app, print publication, etc. The design of the product and its interface unite to create the user experience, which can be either positive or negative, based on their interaction. Creating a design that is simple, elegant and easy to use can be classified as a positive UX.

The user interface (UI) is recognized as an integral part of the design; however, the UX is different from the UI.

Nielsen Norman Group (NN/G) points to a movie review website as an example. The UI for film discovery might be perfect, however, the UX can be perceived as poor for a user seeking information about small releases if it’s only database-rich with major studio movies.

Further complications arise as UX is often confused with usability. NN/G defines usability as a quality attribute of the UI, highlighting whether the system is easy to learn, efficient to use, pleasant and so forth.

Related Article: UX Is a Continuous Investment for Profitable Companies. Here’s Why

What Is Customer Experience?

The customer experience encapsulates all the channels and products a consumer interacts with and how they feel about the brand overall. CX also includes the customer’s cognitive and behavioral reactions that digital touch points incite.

The customer experience can relate to a company’s product, marketing tactics, customer service or even its pricing. In the most basic term, it’s a customer’s perception of their relationship with an organization or their brand.

In practice, professionals focusing on CX will perform the following activities:

  • Research and mapping out customer journeys.
  • Using research to better understand the customers’ habits (both likes and dislikes).
  • Working to understand the customer experience and the company’s relationship with the customer.
  • Delivering a good customer experience by offering exceptional service and support.

A good CX team continually assesses all touch points along the customer journey to create and deliver a dynamic customer experience. CX design is a focal point of this process.

Related Article: What Is Customer Experience Management?

Why the Differences Matter: The 3 levels

As you can see, the terms “user experience” and “customer experience” refer to very different situations. However, throughout the many levels of customer engagement, each is critical to the overall experience. Every interaction, no matter when it takes place, directly determines the decisions the customer will make along the way. Each level represents an opportunity for a company to make a positive impact on the overall experience.

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