How does… UX and CX work?

We've asked some of the industry's most knowledgable boffins to break down industry jargon to help you through those confusing meetings and indecipherable conferences. This week, Yell's Nigel Roberts explains the difference between UX and CX.

A lot of marketers get their CX mixed up with their UX. It’s an easy thing to do. Separating one discipline from another can seem confusing, but in reality it’s simple to define, and understanding the difference can have a massive impact on a business that wants to cater to customer needs more effectively.

Customer experience (CX) is generally strategic, and should encompass the total experience customers have across a brand, business, or product.

It takes into consider a detailed view of customer needs and often delivers cultural and organisational change to meet those needs.

User experience (UX) is generally a tactical digital outcome, which improves one or more parts of a customer’s journey and experience.

See, it’s simple. Or is it? Why is it that organisations often get the two confused?

Digital change drives UX focus

The focus on UX has been easy to understand. The panic about the rise of digital led to many organisations taking the ‘let’s build an app’ approach of improving user experience. Unfortunately, the situation is a little more complex than that.

Research on the financial services industry shows that an overwhelming majority of customers (88%) use two or more channels to interact with their bank and 46% use three or more channels in any year.

The customer desire to interact over multiple channels means that businesses can’t hide from considering the entire customer experience if they’re to meet expectations and deliver a consistent, and consistently excellent, service.

However, developing true CX across an organisation is a massive undertaking. It involves engagement from all parts of the business, not just marketing. Change is hard, however, the benefits and opportunities can be enormous.

To make the maximum impact, CX may be the nirvana, but UX can still make a huge difference if the limitations are understood.

What is user experience?

UX is the customer/ user’s experience with a specific digital touchpoint – usually a website, app or piece of software.

The goal of UX designers is to make sure that each user can reach their goal efficiently and enjoyably. For example, in a financial services context this could be:

· Apply for a bank account

· Find historical performance information for a managed fund

· Search a website and find the information they need

· Make an insurance claim

Ensuring that users can complete these tasks incorporates the disciplines of usability, information architecture, navigation, comprehension, visual hierarchy, and more. How effectively each of these disciplines combine determines the effectiveness of the UX of a website or app.

But ultimately, UX generally focuses on a single interaction.

What is customer experience?

CX has a greater scope: it’s the summation of the customer’s experiences of the brand through all channels. CX is an umbrella concept, which encompasses all of the channels, products and service delivery from an organisation, and how the user feels about them.

Typically, CX refers to how users perceive:

· Customer service

· Advertising

· Brand reputation

· Sales process

· Fairness of pricing

· Product delivery

The UX experience based on an interaction with a website therefore sits within CX.

Getting CX right will mean that a customer will achieve their objectives while having a consistent, professional and efficient interaction with the organisation, resulting in a positive feeling about that company.

It is, however, a hefty task and not for everyone, depending on their organisations’ maturity and strategic appetite.

Take a step back

The most effective CX programs are those where organisations have the appetite and capacity to take a strategic approach to understanding and meeting their customers’ most important needs.

This requires a number of factors to be in place:

·      Understanding and definition of your customers and their full journey and lifecycle.

·      Ideally, a single view of your customer through data sources and analytics.

·      A defined strategy and goals that are focused on customer, rather than business.

·      Engagement from stakeholders across the business, with a shared vision for change (including remuneration that includes customer satisfaction metrics, rather than just product outcomes).

·      The ability to enact true change across touchpoints, systems and culture.

·      The capability and tools to continue to measure and optimise across online and offline touchpoints.

Most organisations and marketers struggle to achieve two of the above list, let alone all six, which is why most businesses struggle to achieve true CX.

It’s also why marketers seek to make an impact through UX. A well-executed UX project can contribute to specific targets, like applications or opt-ins, and can improve micro customer satisfaction.

UX is easier for marketers to control and deploy, and can help lead the way in an organisation by demonstrating a fully customer centric approach to that solution.

However, unless a business is a digital-only start-up, to become a truly customer-centric organisation that deploys CX effectively, separating the Xs is essential.

Nigel Roberts is founding partner and strategic lead at financial services specialist agency Yell.


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