Product-focused organizations are always striving to implement tactics and strategies to improve overall customer satisfaction. Within this, it’s almost impossible to find two topics as widely discussed as the implementation, and differentiation, of Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX). But to address this subject properly, it’s important to first understand why both — the newer discipline of CX and traditional UX — deserve two very different, yet equally important, seats at the table.
What’s the difference?
If you want a cliff notes version, UX deals with people interacting with your product and the experience they receive from that interaction. CX, in contrast, encompasses all the interactions a person has with your brand.
UX is an established discipline that has been around for many years in the software development space. It’s more about the design of digital products such as mobile apps, websites, and enterprise software. The foundation of good UX includes usability, aesthetics, and overall usefulness of a digital product to the end user.
We’ve all had a few good experiences with apps — and probably more than a few not-so-good experiences. But the importance of UX to a successful digital product cannot be overestimated. Gartner estimates by 2020 that customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with a business with no human interaction.
Further, 88 percent of online consumers say they are less likely to visit a site again following a bad customer experience. This instance is probably UX, in that a customer experience often includes a touchpoint with a digital product or service.
CX, on the other hand, incorporates every interaction with your company, your products, your services, your apps, and even your employees. With CX, these touchpoints include both the digital and the physical products and services.
Let’s look closer at those 88 percent of consumers who will alter their perceptions based on a bad experience. Say that a mediocre or bad online shopping experience leads a customer to call the company. Then, he receives superior customer service that results in good CX. In that case, a combination of UX touchpoints are culminating in a positive CX experience.
On the other hand, one natural extension of a good app experience could be an in-store product pickup. If the customer has to wait in line, the employees are rude, or the product isn’t ready, good UX quickly becomes bad CX. The two are not interchangeable as concepts because one can definitely enhance or detract from the other.
Don’t think of UX and CX as one
A 2014 survey showed that nearly four in 10 companies had both a UX and a CX department, but they were separated. Because of strong associations with digital assets, UX departments often are found under the IT function, while CX often winds up under marketing. Only 13 percent of companies reported combining CX and UX in the same department.
Given increasing consumer demand for “experiences,” however, it makes sense to bring these departments together under common leadership. UX is an integral part of CX.
Develop synergies around experiences
Customer needs are changing in ways that threaten to leave less innovative companies behind.
Forrester recently released their 2018 predictions showing that CX quality has plateaued or declined for most industries and companies. Their advice for organizations moving forward? Fundamentally, executives need to make CX an internal disruptive force, or they will see further declines in CX performance, which will translate into more loss than gain.
By now, the point should be clear: UX and CX need to work together. Another survey indicated that 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. Additionally, customer experience is expected to eclipse a company’s price and product as a key differentiator by the year 2020.
So what do you need to do first? Examine every link in the value chain. UX should be integral to the design process of digital products — not an afterthought.
But so should CX. Every phone call, every visitor to your store, every employee interaction is a chance for your company to shine — or fail — miserably.
Yes, UX is the first step to a great CX. But UX alone isn’t enough to create the superior brand experiences that today’s (and tomorrow’s) customers are craving.
Jason Moccia has over 20 years of experience in the software development industry and is the founder and CEO of OneSpring LLC, a design consultancy based in Atlanta, GA that helps clients reduce software development timeframes and cost overruns caused by project rework. Under his leadership OneSpring has grown to over 50 large commercial clients and federal agencies. He is recognized as a leader in the consulting space with a focus on Agile design techniques.