CX Vs. UX: Let’s Explore The Nuances of Each


Summary: User experience (UX) refers to the ease and convenience of users while using an app and customer experience (CX) refers to the ease and convenience of making purchases through digital platforms. Both focus areas for building an app have their strengths and weaknesses. Here we explained. 

The terms UX and CX are often used interchangeably, this is because the meaning of these business concepts are quite enmeshed with another, so much so that it is difficult for software and app developers to see where the differentiating line is.

Having analyzed high-performing organizations hawk-eyedly, what I have realized is that these organizations work in coherence to promise the prospects with the right things and also to deliver to those promises when they become users, truthfully. And to do so, they have defined UX and CX very clearly for themselves, along with developing and deploying UX and CX teams efficiently.

I believe in solving surface conflicts organically, and it is necessary to go to the roots of its origin. So, to understand user experience and customer experience and the difference between them, if there is any, we will have to go deeper into the etymological history of both these concepts.

Now getting to the point, forget all the definitions that you have made for UX and CX till now, as many definitions are passed down through industry leaders with half-information and only for convenience-sake.

It is important to note that both these terms have their origins at the same time. It was a time when the West saw a lot of revolutionary movements. This was the 1960s, the time when the hippie movement started on the beaches of California, the birth control pill was invented, and women flooded the gates of modern workplaces.

Etymological History of Customer Experience (CX)

The term customer experience can be associated with the hyper-advertising — Mad Men era. The time when the business moved onto the power of words and design to market and sold products and services, print media was filled with ads, and copywriters were most-sought after.

As everyone was busy making jingles and copies, pioneering marketers realized how this could be used to touch people’s hearts in a more personal manner. They now not only focused on what to sell “HOW” but also on what to see “WHEN” and to “WHOM”.

“I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.” — David Ogilvy

Thus marketers transcended simple demographics to more nuanced and personal factors, such as attitudinal psychographics. Now, it wasn’t just about where a customer lived, but their attitudes, moods, and behaviors as well. Thus precise audience targeting and more people-centric marketing were born.

Since the people-based experience was based on a prospect or a customer’s purchase behavior, mood and attitude, their feedback and retention, marketers needed to gather and segment a lot of data.

Adding to this in the 2000s, the voice of the customer research shot to popularity, it emphasised on identifying how to satiate the particular needs of the customers, it’s overarching theme was how to make the experience of the user more customized and pleasant not just during the use of a certain product or service but also before and after it.

The shift towards being more people-centric became apparent with the advent of social media after 2007. Social media allowed word of mouth advertising a great deal, making it a great platform for influencing the audience in real-time.

Knowing the power and influence of customers, it was now that the term customer experience came into being, very notably so by the reputed firm – Forrester Research. This firm emphasized how companies benefit from not only a great product but also great customer experiences, and this inspired businesses to form CX teams of their own to spearhead their sales.

Etymological History of User Experience (UX)

The term UX has to be associated with ergonomics, usability, convenience, and design interface. With the advancement of technologies materializing into complex machinery and systems like nuclear power plant control systems, airplanes, etc. we came to realize how exorbitant human error could be.

A laser-like focus was made on implementing design systems that were error-free.

Not just error-free products also became efficient, more user-friendly, and easy to use, which was the case when computers came. The goal of the expert app developers was to create products and give services that were super-intelligent, capable of solving complex problems on the back-end, but where simple to use on the user front.

iPods are more capable of using a gramophone but are more comfortable to use; a Tesla makes a Ford look like a dim-wit, but it is easier to drive.

As usability became the prime focus of businesses, in 1993, Donald A. Norman, American researcher, professor, author, and founder of Nielsen Norman Group, coined the term user experience that focused on cognitive ergonomics and user-centered design.

If you can think of an intelligent solution in a few hours, assume many others have already done so. — Don Norman

Businesses built UX teams tasked to proffer excellent information architecture, easy user navigation, interactivity, and appealing visuals in designs. They collaborated with product developers to ensure a great experience on the user-front.

The Modern Entanglement, symphony, or cacophony – you decide.

It is important to note that even though these two concepts, many now appear separate and different to you now, there are still some grey areas.

  1. The CX teams are also invested if the product design allows users the experience which was promised to them. They also ensure that users are able to report, compliant, and give feedback easily while using the product.

For instance, a social media messaging app that has great usability but no provisions in the app to bring up any technical or otherwise issue is an example of CX being absent from the UX.

  1. The UX teams and product developers are also invested in creating features and services according to the needs of the customers. Changes are to be made in products and services are feedback.

For instance, a picture editing software, that converts a lot of people with its amazing marketing strategy of giving out coupons and discounts, limits a lot of functionalities after purchase and demands in-app purchases, is an example of UX absent from great CX – which is not lack of insight but outright fraud.

It is important to note that a lack of user experience (promised functionalities) after an excellent customer experience (advertising) is not a lack of insight but outright fraud. In other words, there can be no customer experience without user experience.

Cutting to the chase…Now let me define the terms for you…

What is User Experience?

The UX is the experience of the user with a specific product, a website, app, or software. The design interface — its functionality, usability, information architecture, navigation, interactivity, comprehension, learnability, visual hierarchy, etc. – all come under UX.

The goal of the UX team is to ensure that software and app developers design products that meet the promises made to the customer and also solve the problems in an efficient manner. They love qualitative methods. They emphasize how people feel while using the product, and they work well with small sample sizes.

UX has its roots in behavioral science, precisely cognitive science, and ethnography.

What is Customer Experience?

Customer experience is a broader concept than user experience. It is the customer’s experiences with all silos of the brand and not just the specific product or service. CX is an overarching concept encompassing all channels, all products, and end-to-end services within the same brand, and how the user feels about the brand as a whole. Ideally, a CX team focuses on how users perceive — advertising, brand reputation, sales process, the fairness of pricing, product delivery, product’s UX, and customer service.

A CX team has its roots in marketing analytics, customer behavior, and customer relationship. They are very comfortable with large sample sizes from surveys and analytical data. They love quantitative models.

Is it necessary to have two different dedicated teams of UX and CX?

Even though the distinction has to be made in an organization from the top-down of both concepts, it is of importance to note that this distinction is not necessary to pour down on roles.

Inside effective organizations, culture is fostered where different responsibilities are not assigned to separate CX and UX teams; instead, the focus is on creating a single high-power team that houses skills and knowledge of both the CX and UX. Integrated teams have wider ammunition or toolset to apply to complex challenges. But more importantly, they provide a deeper understanding of the software and app developers of what users truly need from the organization, who, in turn, delivers better-designed products and services, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of both CX and UX efforts.