As our world continues to become more digital, the terms ‘user’ and ‘customer’ are often referred to interchangeably in the scope of designing effective online experiences; so much so that they have started to merge into one single definition. Yet as the concept of CX (Customer Experience) continues to develop in its own right, confusion has arisen over where UX ends and CX begins.
UX has been around for a long time in comparison on CX, but a recent Google search (21st September 2015) shows that the quest to separate the two is becoming an increasingly popular question.
Users and Customers
A good place to start in separating the two approaches is to understand the difference between users and customers. Being a user involves an interaction with a product that should be used and the experience surrounding this is limited to that specific product, be it a website, an app or a physical object (Source). Customers are users who pay for the value that is created for them through use of the product AND interaction with the brand; therefore companies are looking to turn users into customers. In short, users use and customers buy (Source).
In terms of volume, an organisation’s user base often vastly outweighs its customer base. Author of ‘Users, not Customers’, Aaron Shapiro, says: “Grow your user base and your customer base grows as well”.
How does the UX fits with your overall CX strategy?
Having identified your users versus your customers, the next step is to ascertain how the UX fits with your overall CX strategy. UX is traditionally defined as the (individual) experience received by a user when interacting with a specific product and is measured with metrics like: success rate, error rate, abandonment rate, time to complete task, and (since we deal in digital) clicks to completion.
CX, in comparison, encompasses the overall experience a person has with a given brand – be it services, content, touchpoints, interactions, employees or products – and can switch between the virtual and physical environments. In essence, UX is part of a broader CX, CX containing some aspects outside of a product that UX does not.
Whilst this diagram is useful in understanding the difference between CX and UX, it may be slightly misleading in terms of the impact that UX has on the overall customer experience. Research has shown that poor UX will drive 90% of customers away, while poor CX will only result in 66% of customers switching to a competitor, thus indicating that a great UX can make up for flaws in the overall CX experience of a brand. However, for most people, a bad UX will be a deal-breaker, removing the opportunity for a user to ever become a potential customer (Source).
The differences between CX and UX
As a business looking to implement both CX and UX functions into your overall strategy, the two areas can be broadly segmented based on three key influences – skills, analysis/research methods and metrics.
Whilst CX and UX can be defined in their own right, the user experience is intrinsically linked to the overall customer experience and how customers think and feel about your brand. Failures in either area can lead to a bad customer experience overall, which is leading to both areas being recognised as needing full-time attention.
A survey by Forrester Research showed, on average, 38% of companies have formalised functions for CX and UX, however, with the two areas being complementary, we are starting to see UX and CX jobs being merged into one function. With more and more digitally-centred start-ups and companies being born, we are bound to see UX playing an ever bigger role, thus encouraging a stronger collaboration between CX and UX managers.