customer experience vs user experience

When a company has a website, app, or product, interpreting the customer experience vs. user experience and their individual roles can make or break the business’s ultimate aspirations. User experience is a factor within customer experience, but they aren’t one and the same. 

However, both customer experience and user experience are equally essential in ensuring customer loyalty and increasing the likelihood of gaining new customers.

On the other hand, the way they operate is very different. They both want to create a smooth experience but have different goals, metrics, and activities. They may also have a different target customer or user as well. 

Let’s take a look at what each experience means and how they work together to ensure an overall positive outcome for both parties.

Definitions

User experience and customer experience each have an essential role in the online sales process and overall customer journey. 

  • User experience (UX): Places focus on a customer’s interaction with a particular product or software. 
  • Customer experience (CX): Places focus on a customer’s experience with the brand or the company.

In essence, user experience is a part of customer experience. User experience is more focused, while customer experience looks at the bigger picture. 

Customer Experience vs. User Experience

Suppose a customer visits your website or app to shop for a bed. Their interactions with your website or app significantly affect their overall user experience. On the other hand, customer experience deals with the process, from the user researching bed options to the product delivery.

Goals

In user experience, the main goal is to achieve customer satisfaction by ensuring they have an easy time using your webpage or app. Ensuring a positive user experience will ultimately reduce your customer abandonment rate and may include things like:

  • Good SEO so your customers can find your site easily
  • An intuitive layout to promote customer engagement
  • A seamless user interface like easy search and filter features 
  • A simple checkout process to solidify a positive entire customer journey

Have you ever been on a website and become frustrated because what you are looking for is hard to find? Maybe they don’t have a search bar or don’t offer a sort and filter function for their catalog. That’s what developers and consumers don’t want in terms of user experience.

The customer experience goal is to have consistently smooth and pleasant interactions, leaving the customer with a positive view of the company. If you’re lucky, these customers may love your business so much that they want to become your affiliate marketers or influencers.

These interactions include their experience on the website, the app, and every other touchpoint along the way. It’s a blend of user experience and customer service.

How would your company handle it if your customer ordered a bed and it arrived broken? Would the customer be able to reach a representative quickly? Would that representative be pleasant and resolve the issue? Would a new bed be shipped promptly?

User experience asks, “how was your time on our website or app?” Customer experience asks, “how was your experience with our company, including your experience on our website or app?”

Target Audience

Both user experience and customer experience require a lot of audience research. What sets them apart is what aspects of the experience they’re looking at and what they do with that research.

A user experience designer’s goal is an easy-to-use, intuitive product. Therefore, they research how real customers use and navigate their websites or apps. These websites or apps aren’t necessarily just shopping. 

They also include things like streaming services or professional software. As a result, user experience isn’t always focused directly on the customer who purchased the product. 

For example, Person A may determine that their employees need specific software. Person B is in charge of purchasing that software, and Person C is in charge of installing it. Persons D-Z are the employees using the software; they are the user in mind, the actual customer the designer focuses on pleasing.

User experience designers don’t focus on who chose the software. They want to know, did Person C have an easy job with installation? Did Persons D-Z need extensive training, or was the software intuitive? Were Persons D-Z able to execute tasks?

A customer experience designer focuses on the entire customer journey. They aren’t very focused on Persons D-Z. They want to know why Person A chose their company, how smooth the purchasing process was for Person B, and how helpful customer service was when Person C had to call for help.

For another example, imagine you and your family share a streaming service, but the billing and account are in your name. In this case, you are both the customer and user, not the sole user.  User experience designers will want to know how good the search function was, how natural the browse function is, and how accurate the algorithm is. 

Customer experience designers will want to know how you heard about the service, what made you sign up, and what your customer service experience was like when you called.

Activities

The goal of user experience is a smooth product for the end-user. The job of a user experience designer may include:

  • Facilitating the UX design process: the conception and creation of a website, app, or software.
  • Watching the way users interact with that product: monitoring things like the number of times a user has to click, how easy the product is to navigate, and how easy it is to complete a task
  • Fixing errors or issues that come up: assessing the best way to make the product more user-friendly and implementing those changes
  • Repeat: continue monitoring the way users interact with the website and making changes as issues arise

Customer experience wants to know what turns someone from a potential client into a brand loyalist. The job of a customer experience designer may include:

  • Creating effective marketing campaigns: this could include targeted online ads, commercials, product placement, and SEO-friendly web content.
  • Ensuring and improving customer communication and service: monitoring customer complaints, sending out and reviewing surveys, and determining how many customers are lost in a time period.
  • Boosting brand perception: this often includes effective marketing coupled with good PR
  • Creating customer loyalty: ensuring that a customer was satisfied enough with their experience that they will continue working with your company

Metrics

User experience and customer experience have very different metrics. 

Because user experience aims to assess how the end-user interacts with a product, user experience designers use Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, to determine how well their product is doing. When testing your UX you must analyze these metrics:

  • Success rate: the percentage of users who were able to complete a task, such as finding a specific product on the website or performing a particular function
  • Error rate: how often a user makes a mistake on your website, which may reveal how user-friendly the website is
  • Abandonment rate: how often were users abandoning items in their online shopping cart?
  • Time to complete a task: how long it takes the user to complete a task successfully
  • Clicks to completion
  • Search to navigation ratio: the number of users that use a search bar to find something versus the number of users that navigate through the website
  • System Usability Scale (SUS): a survey asking users to rate how functional the website was

Customer experience metrics rely less on the number of clicks a customer made on the website and instead focus on the customer’s overall impression of the company. Customer feedback surveys are often used to measure many of these metrics. These metrics may include:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT): how satisfied customers were with your products or services, measured via a survey
  • Customer effort score (CES): how easy it was for customers to work with your company, measured via survey
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): the total amount of money a customer has spent doing business with you
  • Net promoter score (NPS): how likely the customer is to work with you again and how likely it is that they’ll recommend you to others, measured via survey
  • Customer churn rate: the number of customers lost in a certain period of time
  • Average response time: the amount of time it took for a customer to receive a response to their query
  • Average resolution time: the amount of time a customer had to spend to have their issue resolved

The Importance of Customer Experience and User Experience

Excellent customer experience and user experience are essential for creating loyal customers and drawing in new customers. However, bad experiences can drive away customers and destroy your business.

The Importance of Customer Experience

When you offer your customers a good experience, you increase their likelihood of returning. Excellent customer experience creates loyal customers and raises the money they’ll spend over their lifetime. 

A bad customer experience can be detrimental to your company. 

Angry customers are more likely to share their experiences and write reviews than satisfied customers. If you consistently offer a terrible customer experience, your retention rate will plummet, and you’ll see a lack of customer loyalty. Customers with negative experiences may actively work to discourage people from working with you.

The Importance of User Experience

Much like customer experience, a good user experience creates user loyalty. If users can use your product effortlessly, they’ll continue returning. This is true even if you couldn’t fulfill their need the first time. For example, if your customer was looking for aqua blue bath towels, but you only had cerulean, they may still return to look at shower curtains.

Negative user experience may have a different impact depending on your product. The leads you’ve generated may give up and never return if your website is hard to navigate. For a faulty app or software, a customer can leave a bad review and discourage others from using the product. 

Summary

When you work in and with technology, you’ll likely deal with the delicate balance of customer experience vs. user experience at some point. 

Customer experience is an assessment of every moment your customer has with you and their overall impression of the service or interaction. Within that, user experience determines the end user’s experience with a product like a website, app, or software.

While user experience and customer experience designers have different activities and metrics, they want to make the user or customer’s experience as smooth as possible.

Both are important because customers with bad experiences will spread the word, while customers with good experiences are more likely to return and bring new business.