Customer experience vs. user experience

I was in a design meet-up a couple of weeks ago where I heard someone saying this – CX is the same as UX. And to my surprise, there were about a dozen of people who nodded (in agreement) to this statement. Now, this is where I lose my fuse!

As design professionals, it’s imperative for us to learn the difference between Customer Experience and User Experience.

User Experience is everything that affects a user’s behaviour and interaction with a product or service. It all about how the user feels, understands and perceives a product.

UX is measured with metrics like success rate, error rate, abandonment rate, time to completion of tasks.

Customer Experience — is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a brand, over the duration of their relationship with them.

CX is measured in overall experience, likelihood to use again, and recommend to others. CX is the big picture and UX is a part of it.

UX is an integral part of Customer Experience
UX is an integral part of Customer Experience

Ok, definitions aside, let’s consider John’s example — who wants to open a bank account. If I had to explain his journey in bullet points, it would look like below:

  1. John just found his first job and he wants to open a new bank account.
  2. After talking to his colleague, John discovers that Commonwealth Bank is quite good.
  3. So John decides to walk into one of their branches during lunch hours to open an account.
  4. When John gets there, he sees a large queue upfront. They were short-staffed. John sighs.
  5. John waited nearly forty minutes for his turn. Halfway through the application process, he realises that he doesn’t have an ID with him.
  6. The bank staff was not happy to accept any other kinds of ID, but the driving license.
  7. John was unhappy and he had to come back the next day to finish the application.
  8. Once John’s bank account was operational, he started downloading the banking app on his smartphone.
  9. The banking app was very quick, intuitive and easy to setup. John was delighted.
  10. Now John uses the banking app to pay for his lunch. He doesn’t need to carry his wallet every day. John loves it.

John’s user journey above has a few CX and UX touch points. Can you identify them?

CX covers everything from John’s first interaction with the bank through to using the banking App to pay for his lunch. It’s the overall experience with the bank. While UX is a small part of the large canvas.

As illustrated below, every organisation has various departments and UX teams are integrated within them. Which means if a UX team does great work, it necessarily doesn’t improve the overall Customer Experience.

In John’s example, he had a great experience with the banking App, but he had a poor experience with the bank itself. Thus, for John to have a great Customer Experience, the bank needs to improve on every front — (a) hire more staff to minimise queues during busy hours, (b) validate IDs within 48 hours or so, (c) provide good customer service, (d) and have a great mobile App.

CX is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a brand
CX is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a brand

Final thoughts

UX is really a component of CX, and it plays an important role in the overall success of a product and the reputation of the brand. Failures in either area can lead to a bad customer experience overall. If we begin with the customer in mind, we can get both the UX and CX right.