Understanding user experience (ux) vs. Customer experience (cx)

Posted July 8, 2021

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By Cari Murray

Senior Editor at Outreach

Consider the following scenario:

A new user is exploring your site with the intention of learning more about one of your key offerings. The related product page loads slowly, the video featured prominently on the page does not relate to the product, and when they click a button to “get started,” it directs them right back to the homepage. This particular user is persistent, however, and talks to a customer service representative via a chat bot to get some questions answered. The representative is eager, answers promptly, and sends the customer a follow-up email with helpful resources. Motivated by the support, the customer follows a link in the email which brings them to a portal where they place an order.

Would you consider this scenario a win for your brand? Clearly, there are opportunities for the entire experience to work much more smoothly. But how exactly would you go about improving this experience? Understanding the difference between customer experience and user experience helps you understand where and how to make interactions between your users and your brand more seamless and meaningful. Let’s look more closely at the unique roles user and customer experience can play in your business.

Customer Experience (CX) vs. User Experience (UX)

Customer experience and user experience work collectively to build interest, drive engagement, and satisfy and retain customers.

Customer experience (CX) represents every interaction a customer has with the brand and influences the reputation your business has among competitors. CX generally measures the overall customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and the number of new prospects gained and converted over time.

In the introductory example, the user’s interaction with both the site and the customer service rep falls under the umbrella of customer experience, i.e. the less-than-optimal site experience and the helpful interpersonal interactions influenced the user’s perceptions of the brand. A holistic CX strategy seeks to streamline interactions across different platforms to create a unified experience.

Why it matters - With seemingly limitless options, customers need more than just a quality product. They want a brand that makes them feel valued. One Gartner study found that 84 percent of companies tapped into substantial revenue growth by making CX a priority.

Who Drives CX? - Your marketers, sales teams, customer service reps, customer support teams, and advertisers all have a role in improving and maintaining an optimal CX. Their daily responsibilities help increase brand engagement, improve how customers feel about the company, and strengthen loyalty by identifying customer pain points and designing better ways to communicate.

How to measure CX - Though you may often measure CX qualitatively, quantitative customer experience metrics include customer satisfaction score (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), customer retention, behavioral conversion, churn rate, customer lifetime value, and net promoter score.

User experience (UX), a subset of customer experience, describes the application, results, and goals of a product. It considers how your product or program improves the user's quality of life. For example, a mobile banking app should make transactions and financial monitoring more convenient than going to the bank.

In the introductory example, the user’s primary interactions with the site and later interactions with the online portal fall under the scope of UX.

Why it matters - UX aims to understand and deliver a product that the user wants. A user decides whether a product is worth their time in a matter of seconds. If your product is full of errors, won't open or start correctly, or is too complex, the user will likely walk away.

User feedback is an essential part of UX. Sites and products can improve their UX through user testing and by encouraging users to leave comments and criticism about the product or process— all of this helps inform new programs, processes, and features.

Who drives UX? - Dedicated UX designers are often in charge of making improvements to site and app UX. They focus on the end-user experience—how the customer interacts with your product or engages with your service. They seek to answer questions like:

  • Why is your product easier or more enjoyable to use than other products?
  • How does your service make users' lives easier?
  • Is your app's text readable and written in simple language?

How to measure UX - A UX designer may assess the usability of a product and user interactions using various metrics, including the success rate, error rate, cart abandonment, store ratings, and qualitative customer feedback, among others.

Although UX is a component of the larger concept of CX, each influences the way your customers experience your brand. In hyper-competitive markets, experience controls everything in sales engagement, and 32% of users said that they would leave a brand they love after a single bad experience.

An Example of CX and UX In B2B Sales and Marketing

The intro example illustrates a time when the user and customer were the same, but when the decision maker or buyer is different from the end user of the product, you’ll need to optimize the customer experience and user experience for each persona. How do you optimize experiences when the user and customer are different? Let's look at another example:

Company X is in the market to buy a new call analytics platform to help alleviate their issues with lead follow-up. Their current system requires too much manual input, and the added legwork means sales reps often make mistakes and miscommunicate information. Department sales are down and managers are starting to feel pressure from leadership. Fortunately, after lots of leadership advocacy, the sales team is allowed to shop for a new system.

If Company X was your prospect, how would you optimize the UX and CX and who would you optimize for?

How to Optimize CX for Company X

In this example, optimizing the customer experience could include efforts that eliminate friction during the purchasing process for leadership, answering questions, and holding efficient and effective sales calls to build rapport with the team. Outreach Success Plans, a hub for all the important information exchanged during a deal cycle, is an example of CX optimization. If Company X’s leadership has a sour onboarding or consultation experience, the end users (Company X’s sales teams) may never get the chance to interact with the product. The main objective of CX is to provide a satisfactory experience so that your customer / prospect will move on to the next step in the sales journey.

How to Optimize UX for Company X

In this example, the UX focuses on the sales reps’ needs and their specific interactions with the software. A UX designer would ensure the tool has a short learning curve, is easily integrated with other apps, and is intuitive and streamlined. They’ll also constantly look for ways to improve design—using data points from customer or prospect call analytics and overall customer engagement. Strong UX helps users feel confident when operating the product and more empowered to do their job.

CX and UX— Putting It All Together

Optimized CX and UX are fundamental to creating an experience that satisfies and retains customers. Sales teams, in particular, know how essential it is to have effective, engaging conversations that address customer needs and pain points. Unfortunately, the path to a great experience is often hindered by the burden of repetitive administrative tasks. Outreach's Sales Engagement Platform streamlines sales so your team can focus on creating a better customer experience.


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