CX vs. UX: Understanding the Differences and Overlap

CX vs. UX: Understanding the Differences and Overlap

In today’s digital age, user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) are two of the most important buzzwords in the business world. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they represent distinct but interconnected disciplines. In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences and similarities between CX and UX, and how they overlap.

First, let’s define CX and UX. CX refers to the sum of all experiences a customer has with a brand, from their initial contact to their ongoing relationship with the company. It encompasses every touchpoint and interaction, including advertising, customer service, product design, and more. In contrast, UX specifically refers to the user’s experience with a digital product or service, such as a website or mobile app. It includes everything from the design and functionality to the ease of use and navigation.

Although CX and UX are distinct, they are highly interconnected. For example, a poor UX can negatively impact the overall CX, as frustrated users may abandon the product or service and take their business elsewhere. On the other hand, a great UX can enhance the CX, making users feel more positive about the brand and more likely to continue doing business with them. In this way, UX is an important component of CX.

However, while UX is a crucial part of CX, it is not the only factor. Customer Experience can be defined by the customer as four phases; pre purchase, purchase, post purchase/usage and not in purchase (active but not using a company’s product or service and therefore not paying for it) stage. There is much covered across these stages, and depending on the brand, much of it may be far away from a digital experience. All touchpoints can impact a customer’s perception of an organisation. Poor UX can harm a customer’s decision to continue as much as a rude salesperson.

What is important is that these discreet experiences are harmonised. What we mean by that is:

1) The experience must reaffirm the difference of the brand.

2) Each experience, if connected to the other, must be cognisant of each other and ensure it’s a ‘continuation of a customer’s journey’ rather than believe it is the start of a new one. UX is particularly poor for this. Before being able to choose the best option for the customer, it often has to prompt them to understand what happened before.

3) The customer must be able to move between channels (if it is part of the organisations operating model), with relative ease.

4) The experience of the customer must be a consistent one. By that we mean, the customer has expectations and objectives to achieve. UX contributes towards these, aligned to other experiences which are not digital.

Another important difference between CX and UX is the scope of their focus. UX is primarily concerned with the user’s interaction with a digital product or service, while CX takes a more holistic view of the entire customer journey. With these boundaries set, the UX team can often find themselves sitting with the IT team, the website development team or even the social media team. As a sub section of CX, the UX should have the same baseline understanding of customers and the role of CX to the organisation as the customer experience team. This closeness ensures the above points do not make UX a stumbling block for an organisation, as it often is.

Done well, CX follows a similar methodology as UX, so the commonality between the two makes them closer than apart. CXM starts with a deep understanding of what matters to the customer, and so can UX. With UX, it may be refined to ‘when it comes to using digital’. It’s just UX has a very specific set of canvasses (albeit new ones arriving all the time it seems), whereas how CX is less defined and varies more, depending on what’s best for the customer and the business.

Despite these differences, there is significant overlap between CX and UX. In fact, many of the principles and methodologies used in UX design can be applied to CX as well. For example, user research is a key component of both disciplines. Additionally, usability testing and customer feedback are valuable tools for both.

The confusion can come in the naming. A middle-aged woman spraying her newly laid lawn with a state-of-the-art hose, is a user of the hose. But in CX we’d refer to her as a customer. And the same middle-aged woman on line browsing for that hose before buying it will be referred to as a user by CX, because she is using the digital platform. But in CX she’s still a prospect yet to become a customer. It has been often commented that UX is focussed on the technology, while CX is focused on the customer. We’d hope there is a closer alignment on both. Some of the activities used in UX are the same as CX but just have a different name:

1. UX refers to User research. CX refers to customer research of customer insights: To create a product that meets the user’s needs, you need to understand their goals, behaviours, and pain points through surveys, interviews, and usability testing.

2. UX refer to Usability. CX refer to product/ service experience design: How easy it is for users/customers to navigate and interact with a product/experience.

3. UX refer to Accessibility. CX refer to Accessibility design: the practice of designing products/experiences that can be used by people with disabilities.

4. UX refer to Visual design. CX refer to product/ service experience design: it affects how users/customers perceive and interact with a product/experience.

5. UX refer to Iteration. CX refer to Continuous Improvement: the iterative process of continually testing and refining designs based on user/customer feedback.

In conclusion, CX and UX are seen as distinct but highly interconnected disciplines. While UX focuses on the user’s experience with digital products, CX takes a broader view of the entire customer journey. Ultimately, by embedding the discipline of UX within the CX function, businesses can create a customer-centric approach that delivers seamless, positive experiences across every touchpoint.