It is very common to confuse between the terms User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (CX). But is there a real difference in between them?

It turns out there is, and it is important to call out the difference not just so we could sound smart and impress our colleagues, but for us to focus on solving the issues related to right area.

User experience is part of the overall customer experience

user experience vs customer experience
User experience vs customer experience, what is the difference?

An easy way to think about these two terms is by envisioning the customer experience as an umbrella concept in which inside reside the user experience.

While user experience concerns with how people feel while they interact with your product, customer experience looks at the big picture of how your users interact with the brand and company through all channels.

The way we measure these two is quite different as well. While we are able to set specific metrics to gauge the success rate of tasks completion or conversion rates of user interacting with our products, it is more challenging to find out how do we people feel about your brand, and if the they their experience with it is satisfying.

For example, Agoda.com is an online travel agency providing great deals and rates  for accommodations and flights in APAC for customers all over the world.

When a customer uses the site or application, they are interacting with the Agoda product. They have a goal in mind they wish to accomplish, like booking a hotel for the weekend. Hence this is their experience of usage of the product and we can measure that then by their ability to complete this booking.

Enhancing the user experience could include a few things depending on the goals of the users and the business.

We can look into the flow of the user interacting with the product and find any obstacles or redundant steps that we can mitigate or completely eliminate for the success rate of the user for instance.

Now let’s take this same user and think about the scenario when she successfully booked her hotel, and how has arrived to her destination. To her surprise, the hotel reject her booking, and the reception manager dismiss her request to check again by suggesting to contact and figure out this matter with Agoda.

Frustrating customer experience
Customer frustrations while interacting with your brand could damage your business

Frustrated, our customer is calling the Agoda customer care service and wait on line for about 15 minutes. Eventually it turns out that there were some miscommunication between the hotel and the company and they are not able to find a new place for her.

Her experience with Agoda as a brand is not a good one at this moment. She promise not to use their service anymore, and plans to write an angry post on social media.

You can clearly see that even though we made sure the User Experience with the product was excellent (easily and efficiently finding and booking accommodation), the Customer Experience on the other hand all went astray and could really damage the business reputation.

Of course we could also say that the product should be designed and developed in a way that could prevent those types of mistakes, but errors are inevitable sometimes.

And in those use cases we must switch our focus from the user experience to the customer experience and find the best way to make them satisfied and please with our service.

Nahum Yamin

A user experience designer living and working at Bangkok, Thailand. A coffee lover who likes to read and wonder about design business and technology, life and everything in between.

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