Don't Confuse CX with UX: Here are 5 Key Differences


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

CX and UX are often used interchangeably, but understanding the differences between them will help improve the overall customer journey.

Article 4 Minutes
Don't Confuse CX with UX: Here are 5 Key Differences

In marketing, it’s not uncommon to hear the terms customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) used interchangeably. While they are related, they’re not the same and discovering the nuances will help you drill down to the best ways to deliver on these two concepts. 

The difference between CX and UX 

A good place to start in differentiating CX and UX is to provide definitions of both principles. CX describes the customer’s perception of their relationship with a brand or organization as a whole. It’s the sum of every interaction between the two parties from first impressions through purchasing to becoming a repeat customer. 

UX, on the other hand, relates to a specific action, such as submitting an online form or making a purchase. If CX comes from a macro perspective, then UX refers to the micro elements, and in reality the two areas overlap and should work together in the long run. Knowing the difference doesn’t mean pitting CX vs UX but understanding which tasks fall under each remit. 

1. Customers versus users 

Customers and users are not necessarily the same person. While someone purchasing an item or service will want to know about its top-level functionality and benefits, the individual using it on a day-to-day basis will be more preoccupied with the minutiae of how it works. CX design appeals to the former and UX design to the latter, with the two areas fulfilling different purposes. 

2. CX and UX professionals 

Hiring the right person for the right job is important, so before putting out an ad for a vacancy it’s vital to understand the role you’re recruiting for. There’s no point getting CX designer candidates if what you really need is a UX professional or vice versa. If you want an individual tasked with building a brand-level experience that supports customers’ needs throughout their journey and all touchpoints, hire a CX expert. For a focus on the ease and satisfaction of using a product, opt for someone who specializes in UX. 

To learn more about the latest trends and importance of UX in web design, listen to our interview with Luke Hay on The Strategic Marketing Show:

Listen to the episode via your preferred pocast platform:

3. Metrics 

The metrics used to quantify the success of customer experience and user experience vary to reflect their purposes. A common metric that has particular significance for CX designers is the number of customers a company has over time. Churn rate, retention rate, customer lifetime value, customer effort score and net promoter score are all relevant to CX. In comparison, UX designers are more likely to see how users rate using a product, with app store ratings and usability reviews particularly important. 

4. Testing for CX and UX 

To ensure both CX and UX functions remain user-centric, it’s important to carry out tests. CX takes a holistic view of the situation, identifying high and low points along the customer journey. It looks at how smoothly connections between varied touchpoints are achieved and when interactions would be better handled offline. UX testing should be based around real people responding to a digital product to better understand its success. 

Learn more: How Does UX Fit into an Enterprise Marketing Strategy | With Luke Hay 

5. Levels of experience 

When considering the relationship between an individual and a business over the course of a lifetime, it’s worth taking three main levels of experience into account. These are the single-interaction level, the journey level and the relationship level, with CX and UX performing different roles through this progression. 

  • At the single-interaction level, UX enables a specific task to be achieved on a device 
  • At the journey level, CX will show how multiple channels allow an individual to reach their goal  
  • At the relationship level, all of the interactions between the individual and the business will be taken into consideration 

Customer experience vs user experience 

As with many areas that are similar but not the same, it’s worth considering how CX and UX can work together as opposed to prioritizing one over the other. Research from Forrester suggests customers are prepared to pay 4.5 times more if they enjoy a good customer experience with a brand. Thinking about the user experience can help to build towards this aim, but distinguishing between CX and UX will ensure no elements are overlooked. 

It’s possible to have good CX and bad UX or vice versa, but it’s better to perform well in both areas. 

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