Do not confuse user experience with customer experience

It is essential not to confuse user experience (UX) with customer experience (CX) because, although complementary, these two concepts are different.

The Definition of UX

The reason why the two terms are confused comes from the fact that users are often mistaken for customers. A user is someone who uses a product, whereas a customer is someone who interacts with the whole of the business. What does this mean, specifically?

Users are those people who have either bought a product/service or tried it out to make sure they would buy it. Users test the features, explore the benefits, learn about the actions required to make the product work, etc. Therefore, UX refers to a process of direct interaction between the consumer and the product. UX is easier to measure because it relies on specific metrics: speed, efficiency, etc. And it can be tweaked quickly based on feedback.

The Definition of CX

Customer experience encompasses much more than user experience. The most significant difference is that CX doesn't necessarily refer to one product, one service or one aspect of the company. It can, but it doesn't have to. What does this mean?

CX refers to the whole scope of emotions associated with the company; it is the experience customers have when interacting with various aspects of a business. CX doesn't have to be directly connected to a product/service. It is how a customer perceives the company, how satisfied they are with the customerservice, how easily they get the requested information, how responsive a business is on social media, etc. CX is a sum total of all the interactions a user has with a company. Therefore, it's much harder to tweak and improve because it doesn't necessarily rely on specific metrics, but on emotional appeal.

UX and CX in practice

Imagine a person buying a product from a company. The staff is welcoming and kind; the person has zero problems during the purchase process. But once they start using the product, issues arise. For example, features are not described, using the product is time-consuming, the expected result from using the product is missing, etc. The person refers to the user manual, but the information is not sufficient to help them out.

This can be described as a bad user experience. However, it is still not a bad customer experience because, as a customer, the person was treated in the best way possible (and their perception of the company is still unchanged).

The turning point

Then, the person decides to contact the call centre, but there is no response. They decide to return the product to the physical store, but the store is closed during working hours. Then the person decides to write a complaint email, but there is no response for five days. When the response finally arrives in the inbox, it is just some copy/paste generic answer, without any helpful information. As a result of this, the person will write a bad review for the company and opt to become a customer of another company – because their perception has changed permanently. This is all bad customer experience because, as a customer, the person wasn't treated with care and respect.

UX stays connected to CX

Both user experience and customer experience are part of customer satisfaction, but they are not synonymous. UX is just one section of the CX, although important for the customers' overall satisfaction.