...Or Why You Should Pay Close Attention to UX’s cousin, Customer Experience
User experience is a hot market right now, especially in the inbound marketing world, but gripping its tails on the road to visibility is the lesser-known “Customer Experience.” CX hasn’t gotten quite the buzz that UX has up to this point, and many people have misconceptions that the two are interchangeable.
This can raise problems in the interim—that space where UX does not quite meet the needs that CX requires for success, especially for those of us in digital marketing, who scratch our heads in wonder over why our efforts at providing a good experience are not fruitful. The misunderstanding of the two fields, and our high expectations for UX leads to the inevitable question—why does this gap occur?
In reality, it’s quite simple: the customer experience space is an extension beyond what user experience is designed to meet, and while the means are similar, the measures are different in nature. Here are a few reasons why your attention to UX isn’t enough to handle your CX, too.
1. UX is about a customer facing product or service, CX is about customers
At its core, this is the fundamental difference between user experience and customer experience. In the world of user experience, your goal is to create streamlined simplicity of use. This means that anyone who can and will use your product or service should be able to use it without problem or error.
Most of the time this is not easily measured, and ultimately, good UX is UX that goes unheard about. People won’t notice if a program is well designed or easy to use, but they certainly will notice bad UX—and tell everyone to never use your product.
Customer experience is about more than just the product or service you’re offering, but the customer’s whole adventure along the way. The customer’s journey should be smooth and streamlined every step of the way. Certainly we’ve all had to wait long, grueling hours at the DMV, or had a problem with a product and felt like no one was listening to you.
That is poor customer experience. Arguably with this in mind, good customer experience is as important if not more important than good user experience. Just remember it this way—good user experience builds your brand, but poor customer experience can destroy it.
2.UX is about Perception and Interaction, CX is about Perception and Interaction over time
User experience is about two variables:
How do people perceive the product or service?
How do they interact with it?
These things are measured and calculated any number of ways, and studied decisively through extensive A/B testing for everything from layout to design elements such as color. There’s a certain hindsight bias every UX tester is aware and wary of—a user may report they had an easy time navigating your site or service, but documentation and testing shows that they struggled to find certain aspects or elements.
Customer experience doesn’t have that benefit. A/B testing in the land of customer experience is far more controlled because people will remember a bad interaction with your company and never buy from you again. Whereas UX is the perception and interaction with a service, CX is the perception and interaction with your company and brand.
Think of the last time you went to a restaurant and had a negative experience. Did you ever go back? Were you more likely to go back if you’d had a positive experience before your negative experience? All of these are factors that reflect customer experience, and people don’t easily forget.
3. UX is about product design, CX is about business design
We all know much of UX is about design, but to think of CX as design is perhaps a bit of a leap for some people. But when you delve into what builds a strong customer experience, it all comes down to strategy and structure, and surely the development of these both fall into a form of design?
Strategy and structure both require a framework. It may not be a wireframe like most UX design requires, but it exists in things like workflows and spreadsheets. Company culture and how it’s reflected through your brand is certainly a foundational piece when determining a strategy for attracting customers and what they’ll encounter when interacting with your business and your employees. That’s a form of design.
Do you have a method for customer service or a hierarchy of communication? That’s a form of design as well. Do you send nurture emails, give special offers, or even retweet customers who address your business? All of these are part of business’ strategic design that provides a unique and memorable customer experience.
4. UX brings ease, CX brings delight
With the strength of Google and Apple in the tech world, more and more people have been adopting the ideas of ease, simplicity, and UX when building their product or service. And while all of this is generally positive, it’s not ideal for every company or every situation. Furthermore, people fail to recognize that while companies like Google take the UX approach to their offerings, they’re less simplistic with their CX.
Here’s a more simple of way of thinking about it—if you’re using a computer program frequently and you run into a problem would you want to have to call someone or would it be simpler to have an in application FAQ and connected forum? Certainly you’d pick the latter.
Now let’s take this a step further—you have an idea for this program to extend the functionality. They have an option for feedback and you choose to provide this feedback. You receive the standard “Thanks for your feedback!” e-mail.
Well that’s great and all, but did they really get your feedback? A few days later you get a more personal e-mail that specifically addresses your feedback and how they might use it. Surely that brings a smile to your face. That is true customer experience, and that smile is delight.
5. UX is for the masses, CX is more personal
When you’re designing for UX, simple and easy is key, because unless you’re in a niche market, multiple types of people will be using your product or service. Think of the user base for Microsoft Word. That’s pretty much the majority of computer users.
With such a wide variety of users with a multitude of backgrounds, simplicity means that anyone from any background could learn your software pretty quickly, and it’s more or less one size fits all. With other types of software or service this may not be true, in which case usability research allows you to determine the design will best suit your particular user base. This is about as personal as UX gets.
CX is all about getting personal. Customers want to feel unique and valued, which is not always easy when you consider the number of customers you have. This fits into delight for certain, but more so, it changes the approach people take towards customer experience.
This is where the big discrepancy between the two fields exists, and a change of mindset is required.
UX professionals are primarily interested in hard data on usability, and feedback perception to build the experience. CX takes things a step further and also looks at how perceptions affect the outcome of the consumer/provider relationship, or where the customer sits with the business after their experience is complete.
This data goes into building a level of quality into the overall experience, not just with what the company is offering, but also with the company itself. This information is used to build other aspects to help personalize a customer’s experience along their journey, which can be anything from using personalization in email to nurturing emails or additional human interaction when communicating with the business.
Knowing the differences between the UX and CX, who is responsible for the customer experience end of things?
It’s hard to say and there’s probably not a single right answer for your business. Perhaps this task would be a joint effort between your UX expert and your marketing strategist, or maybe it’s a new position altogether. What’s most important is the acknowledgement that while your user experience is important, it needs to be coupled with customer experience to bring a truly optimized experience for your users.