The invasion of technology in our personal and corporate lives, has brought many new concepts. We occasionally encounter with brand new ones, or has to think about another one from a fresh perspective. Maybe the two concepts that most frequently are mixed up are Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX). Some people say they are two parts of a whole, others think that one covers the other… Before we explore the depths of the topic, it would be beneficial for the reader if we define them first and then demonstrate the scope clearly.
Customer Experience; is the cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints over time, which result in a real relationship feeling, or, for better or worse, lack of it.
The exact definition of User Experience, as outlined by the International Organization for Standardization, is a person’s perceptions and responses resulting from the use and or anticipated use of a product, system or service.
At first glance, the most noticeable distinction between two definition is that, one is about a long period and other focuses on an instant situation. “The cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints over time” part in customer experience definition, stands for a very long term, the whole journey of customer. The impact, here, is how the brand talks to customers in each and every touchpoint.
The process of customer experience can be summarized in three main touchpoints:
Pre-sales touchpoints usually are marketing activities to promote a product or service. All the activities, such as advertising, promotions, emailing, inserts, social media, WoM etc. that aims to increase awareness and direct people to purchase are pre-sales customer experience.
When pre-sales touchpoints are usually initiated by the brand (social media might be an exception here), sales touchpoints have a two-way nature. Sales people, P.O.S., fairgrounds, e-commerce pages or some sales related circumstances such as upsell, discount, check-in/check-out etc.
Customer services, surveys, newsletters, forums, social media, loyalty programs etc. are after-sales touchpoints. Main targets of them is to keep existing customers and lead them to engage with the brand again.
So as we cleared this up briefly, it is now safe for the reader to say that all interactions and contacts between the brand and the customer is a matter of customer experience.
User experience is, on the other hand, another story. It is a concept that is obtained as a result of a specific product being involved in the customer's life. Experiencing it first hand and getting a perception of the product are the key points here. May it be a software, a new car, a smartphone, or even a simple pen. Many elements such as product interface, ease of use, learnability, data architecture, visual design, navigation etc. are components of user experience. The purpose of good UX, is to solve right problems in an easy and effective way. This is usually achieved by “converging with nature”, the ability of creating interactions that user is already familiar with.
That question has a very short and clear answer: CX involves UX. Here is a clever and elegant schematization for the reader:
Common mistakes are placed on the right side of the image above, which explains the subject in a very simple way. It is absolutely wrong to think that customer experience and user experience are the same thing, or, they are in contact but independent concepts, or, they are not independent of each other, but we also can’t talk about a complete intersection set here.
Let’s talk about the CX an airline company has. When a potential customer sees the discount ad for the first time, the experience starts in that second. At this point, this person is not yet a customer but a traveller (pun intended) in what we call “the buyer’s journey". Let’s assume this person visited the website of the airline company to browse their options. The ease of use, number of clicks before purchase, loading speed, navigation etc. are related to user experience and has a direct affect influence over the experience. If our soon-to-be-traveller wishes to use the app of the firm to use the mobile boarding pass, then the design, usability, features and overall smooth operation of the app is also, again, the UX. On the other hand, since our traveller still dwells on the buying process, the whole mobile experience is included in CX. Just as it also includes flight delays, the attitude of the attendants, the miles earned from the flight etc.
So, CX begins with seeing a flashy banner (the first touch point) and goes forward with reaching to a desired destination (the next touch point) and continues even after the journey ends. But UX, starts with the first logging on to a website/mobile app and ends when the customer decides to close the tab/app.
In the age of omnichannel, brands try to maximize customer satisfaction with their websites, mobile apps, physical stores, feedback channels, ads… In other words, with their service quality in every touchpoint. That’s why UX and CX always work together and feed each other. The already very thin line between these two very related concepts is getting thinner everyday, especially with the invasion of Internet of Things. The brands that doesn’t offer top-quality user experience, automatically loses the chance to have top-quality customer experience.
Studies show that 45% of search activities on mobile, directly affect purchase decisions. Even in the mobile era that we all live in, lots of companies do not tend to their UX on mobile, and some of them relate it to low conversion rates. It might seem logical at first, since the efficiency is key here, but again, we live in a mobile world now, we may be living in a VR or MR world next decade. So taking on an omnichannel approach should be the focus here. Even if the aforementioned research states that the most of the purchases are done on physical stores and desktop computers; the initial first product research is usually done on mobile devices. So, when the brands push mobile experience in the background, they stumble in the first step and fall behind both in CX and UX.
Let’s think about the most important point here. What does the user or the customer feel about a specific company? Can this company really offer them a beneficial and enriching experience?
UX is a product-centric concept and can easily be measured with various tools such as direct evaluable metrics, with standardized design processes, A/B test results etc. Or to determine metrics for a specific product, the reader may use a all-in-one solution like Google’s HEART and form a UX strategy towards it.
Heat maps, screen recording videos, average session time, number of customers who reach check- out, conversion rates and loading times are a few of the technical metrics that can be of use while measuring UX. You can also directly listen to your users via surveys, interviews, social media, focus groups etc.
On the other hand, to measure CX, a distinctive set of metrics are generally used. Some of them are NPS, CES (customer effort score), CSAT (customer satisfaction). In addition to these; re-purchase, feedback closing time, social media channels, churn rates are also among the very generally used and beneficial methods. The method of getting the opinion of the customer as directly as it gets, is generally preferred in CX evaluations.
Whether it is CX or UX, using comparable and easily reportable measurement systems will make the job easier for everyone.
As we explained in detail and demonstrate with sound examples, the reader should have now a fair understanding that UX and CX are not the same thing at all. The two are interconnected, inclusive, complementary and pertinent. Especially if we think that technology covers a bigger part of our lives day by day, we can see that they are getting closer together.
For a UX professional, it is quite useful to proceed with the CX perspective in mind when creating a product. Understanding the customer's journey will also ensure that the user experience is maintained at high levels.
The important thing is to keep the user and customer experience at the top level by moving as consistently as possible. And creating happy and loyal customers by listening what they say at every touch point.