Customer Experience Vs User Experience: Why The Difference Matters

by
Philip Cleave
on
August 8, 2023
Picture depicting how the user experience and customer experience can impact a user during their product journey with a business.

When it comes to today's business concepts, user experience and customer experience are among the most popular.

However, despite each being distinctive in their focus, with the former solely concerned with the product experience, and the latter more interested in the wider customer experience, the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Yet, if each concept is applied to your business separately, they can provide a lot of benefits and value. That’s why it’s important to know the differences between the two, so you can gain the greatest value from each approach, which we will go on to explore next.

Customer experience vs user experience

When we talk about customer experience, we’re referring to the impression that your customers have of your brand in relation to all the interactions they’ve ever had with your business.

In contrast, user experience is just focused on how people use and perceive your products.

Customer experience definition

If we look at customer experience in a bit more detail, we’re referring to the combination of perceptions, feelings and beliefs that your brand evokes in customers throughout their entire buyer’s journey with you.

Essentially, CX is all about the overall impression you leave on your customers.

Think about the following example.

After buying your product or service your customer starts to experience some technical challenges with it. They submit a ticket through your help desk portal and speak with someone on your team to try and resolve their issues.

Here are some CX questions that your customer is likely to consider:

Did this process feel seamless from beginning to end?

Did the customer service representative they spoke to provide a friendly and responsive service?

Would I use this company again or recommend it to a friend?

Given that 93% of all service teams agree that customer expectations are now higher than they’ve ever been, being able to tick all your customers expectation boxes is critical.

The key thing to remember is that it’s often the little things that make people shout about your company. So, you’ll want as many of these comments as possible to be positive rather than negative.

User experience definition

Your user experience is concerned with all your end user’s interactions with your product or service. A good UX looks to keep customers happy before, during and after their product experience.

Based on the same example we used for customer experience above, your customer may have asked themselves the following UX questions, while interacting with your help desk portal.

Is your website visually appealing to them?

Is it easy to navigate and find information?

Can I use this portal easily on any of my devices?

In addition, elements of UX such as intuitive design and minimal product friction, fit into the greater CX picture. So, it’s therefore prudent to create the best holistic experience possible for your customer — from your sales support right through to your customer service.

While CX and UX are fairly complementary, they’re not always involved is solving the same things. That’s why it’s also important to understand the differences between the two, which we will go on to look at next.

What the difference between CX and UX?

While the aim of CX is to delight customers at every stage of the brand experience, UX is more focused on improving product design and usability from beginning to end.

However, to better appreciate the differences between the two it’s helpful to explore areas including their target audience, goals and objectives, and metrics and measurement.

Target audience

The audiences that CX and UX focuses its processes and tasks are different.

CX target audience

CX professionals are concerned about their customers' entire experience with their business, from the person researching their business to the person who clicks to make a purchase. Sometimes this can be one individual, or it can be multiple people in different departments.

UX target audience

By contrast, UX professionals are focused on the actual user of a product or service, regardless of whether they purchased it.

Goals and objectives

Both CX and UX professionals have work to do in keeping customers happy through every business interaction. Yet, CX and UX strategists each have their own unique set of goals and objectives to get them there.

While CX professionals focus on the entire customer experience, the focus of UX professionals lies solely on the experience with the product or service they offer.

Typical CX goals and objectives can include:

  • Building a brand experience that attracts, engages and delights customers
  • Improving customer satisfaction at every stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Developing a feedback loop where it’s easy for customers to voice their needs

Typical UX goals and objectives can include:

  • Constructing a seamless product experience with minimal friction
  • Developing interactive, fun and simple to use products
  • Working to ensure products solve the customers most important problems

To summarize, CX professionals work to nurture positive experiences with your brand, while UX professionals focus on improving the product interactions that help build those positive experiences.

Metrics and measurement

CX

When it comes to measuring your customer experience, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.  Essentially, CX is all about measuring how satisfied your customers are and their likelihood to recommend you to others.

Here’s some metrics to help you with that:

Customer satisfaction

One of the most popular CX metrics in measuring your customers satisfaction with the interactions they’ve had with your business is the customer satisfaction score (CSAT) metric.

This metric aims to measure a customer’s satisfaction with a product, service or support interaction via a satisfaction survey. And this is achieved by asking your customers the following question:

‘How satisfied were you with our (product, service, support interaction)?

Following this, every customer is invited to rate their experience using a 5-point scale from very dissatisfied to very satisfied.

You can then calculate your CSAT by dividing all the positive responses you receive by your total number of responses and then multiplying this figure by 100, to leave you with a CSAT percentage.

Scores closest to 100% indicate the highest levels of satisfaction, while those at the other end of the spectrum the lowest satisfaction levels.

For a quicker and more effective way of calculating your CSAT, you might also like to try our CSAT calculator.

Net Promoter Score® (NPS®)

Another popular CX metric, but this time focused on measuring how loyal a customer is to your business, is the NPS metric.

NPS measures this loyalty and how likely a customer is to spread good words about your business to others, by asking them the following question:

"On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our [company/product/service] to a friend?" (on a scale where 0 represents not likely and 10 very likely)

Your responses are then grouped based on the following classifications:

  • Promoters (Score: 9-10): Represents your best customers, who are advocates for your brand, returning often to buy again and referring their friends and family to you, in turn generating more sales.
  • Passives (Score: 7-8): People in this group neither like or dislike your brand, but don’t have any loyalty towards it either. In fact, if they found a better deal somewhere else, they're likely to take it.
  • Detractors (Score: 0-6): The widest survey score range is reserved for customers who may actively harm your brand through negative reviews.

To calculate your NPS, you need to subtract your number of detractors from your number of promoters.

This will leave you with a positive or negative number, which you will need to divide by your total number of survey responses and then multiply by 100. At this point you should have a number between 100 and –100 - the higher your score the greater its desirability.

For a simpler and faster way of calculating this, you may like to try our NPS calculator.

Churn rate

Although, it may not at first sound like an obvious choice, your customer churn rate can also give you an indication of the levels of customer satisfaction with your business, by how many customers you are losing.

More specifically your customer churn rate measures the percentage of your customers or subscribers who cancel or don't renew their subscriptions during a given time period, such as a month or a year.

To calculate your churn rate, you need to use the following formula:

(Lost Customers ÷ Total Customers at the Start of Time Period) x 100

For instance, let’s say your business had 300 customers at the beginning of the month and lost 15 customers by the end of it. You would divide 15 by 300. The answer is 0.05. You would then multiply this figure by 100, to give you a monthly churn rate of 5%.

UX

By contrast, a major part of measuring UX requires you to look at the usability of your products. In this scenario user testing offers a great way to find answers to common usability problems.

Here are some metrics to think about in this context:

Website usability metrics

Another important group of UX metrics is website usability metrics. These consider how easy it is for users to access the features and functions of an application or website.

Subsequently, they can be determined by issues like your website’s page load speed and how long it takes to display content, to how simple your site is for users to navigate and find what they’re looking for.

User engagement metrics

This metric is concerned with how people engage with the products and services you provide. And by gathering data in this area, you can gain a better insight into whether your customers are getting what they want from their user experience with your brand.

For example, for a website or app, your engagement metrics could include things like page views, clicks, bounce rate, conversion rate and average session duration of visitors to your site.

User adoption metrics

Your user adoption metric offers another important insight into the effectiveness of your user experience. This is concerned with how quickly users are adopting your solution or product into their lifestyle.

To determine whether you have a successful product you need to know whether people are using and adopting it successfully, which is where the use of user analytics can help.

So, let's say, 1000 out of 100, 000 install your mobile app, but only 50 open it on a daily basis. This could indicate a problem with its usability or how user friendly it is.

User retention metrics

Similarly, to user adoption, the user retention metric can provide an indication of how effective your UX and user experience is.

The user retention metric measures how many users are returning to your product or service having initially engaged with it. So, if you have a high number of users coming back after time, then this is probably a good indication that you’re doing things right with your UX.

By contrast, if your return rate is low, then you will want to examine why this might be happening and find ways to correct it. This could involve anything from improving its UI/UX design or simplifying instructions for first-time users to adding more features and more.

Why the difference between CX and UX matters

Firstly, it’s important to be able to distinguish between internal roles and their responsibilities. So, in the case of your UX team that means focusing on enhancing your product’s usability.

While usability is important on the CX side too, nurturing a positive brand experience will be the greatest measurement of success for CX. Having said that, it’s also important for your business to have separate but integrated strategies for each.

However, if you’re to increase your volume of happier customers, your CX and UX strategies also need to be working well together.

How CX and UX work together

While we’ve so far majored on the differences between CX and UX, it’s important to show how they work together, as ultimately, they’re both working to improve things for the customer.

In terms of structure, although user experience is a subset of customer experience, its role is just as crucial, because without having a good UX, you won’t be able to develop a positive customer experience.

UX is all about products and CX is all about people and products. UX also has a direct impact on CX, based on how the end user feels about the product or service you offer. And when they’re both working effectively together, they can help you to create a customer journey with no friction.

Mapping out your customer journey

For those of you who are unsure what that journey might look like, you might want to try mapping it out.

A customer journey map is a great way of visualizing a person’s experience with your organization, from start to finish.

It can also help you to assess how well your UX and CX is performing at different touchpoints. Consider the following examples:

Are you experiencing any pain points?

It could be that your app is really slow to load, causing many visitors to become stuck before reaching a goal. That would be an example of UX.

Alternatively, how are your customers feeling?

It could be that they feel well supported whenever they experience an issue and consequently are telling their friends lots of great things about your brand. That would be an example of CX.

Ultimately, it’s this combination of UX and CX interactions across your customer journey that helps define how customers feel about you and your products.

More ways to gage how well your CX and UX is performing

Besides customer journey mapping, there are some further ways that CX and UX teams can measure how well their respective strategies are performing with customers.

CX

The following activities can help CX teams better assess how well they’re performing and where they need to improve:

  • Conducting a customer satisfaction survey to gain a better insight into people’s experiences with your bran
  • Reviewing customer service tickets to identify and address where you may be experiencing recurring customer issues
  • Checking your brand sentiment on social media to gage how customers feel about your brand
  • Analyzing churn rates including the use of customer churn surveys, to help develop strategies to improve your customer retention

UX

Similarly, UX teams can better assess the performance of their UX strategies with the following activities:

  • Brainstorming ideas that will make their app more interactive and fun to work with based on user feedback
  • Running website usability tests to identify obstacles that users face when trying to use a product or service
  • Using heat maps and usability tests to refresh the visual look and feel of a product or service landing page
  • Updating the information architecture within a user interface, to make it more intuitive for people to navigate

Final thoughts

We hope you found this blog interesting and if you weren’t already, you now feel more knowledgeable about customer experience and user experience and how these concepts differ.

However, what’s most interesting is how complimentary and effectively the two concepts can work together. And if you can get the right measurements in place to optimize both your user experience and customer experience, you’ll be well on the way to delivering the seamless high-quality experiences customers want to see throughout their journey with you.

Deliver the experiences your customers want to see

Having the right UX and CX strategies in place is essential if you’re to retain customers, attract new ones and grow your business. However, you’ll also need to be delivering experiences your customers love. But you’ll only be able to achieve the quality you need with the right survey tools.

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