User experience (UX) is something that has only really developed over the past few decades as use of the internet for commercial purposes has become more prevalent and making the interface between site and user as easy, painless and uncomplicated as possible has assumed critical proportion. Customer experience (CX) has been around for a much longer time though it might not have been recognised or acknowledged as such.
Customer experience relates to the whole process of customer care including such areas as customer satisfaction, customer service and help, brand management, aftersales and so on. As the first recognised brand – Wedgewood – was founded in the 18th century, you can imagine how far back the principles of the concept reach.
The position now though is vastly different to when those nascent brands emerged from the melting pot of the industrial revolution. As commerce developed and competition for business hotted up, brand and product quality, customer service and all other aspects of customer experience began to take on a much more significant role. This has only accelerated in the technological age to the point where it is probably the most important factor as many products or services are delivered entirely through electronic means.
So how do you recognise the difference between CX and UX? Well, UX is actually a component of CX being part of the overall process that a customer has with your brand, product, company that contributes to the overall picture and opinion. As we observed above, CX covers every aspect of the customer’s experience with you from initial contact, sales, communication, advertising and marketing, customer service and aftersales, online interface, delivery – in fact any sort of interaction or connection with the customer is included here. UX is the direct online interface and is governed by factors such as usability, accessibility, navigability, design and visual hierarchy. While this is all vitally important in the digital age, it is only one component in the array of customer service elements.
To provide clarification it is possible to have good CX with bad UX and vice versa. For example, if you buy a product that you can’t understand how to work and the online instructions are unclear, that would be bad UX but if a helpline was offered that provided brilliant, easy-to-understand information and walked you through it all, that would be good CX. Conversely if you bought a product online that was easily identified and accessed and apparently delivered without problem but then turned out to be a nightmare to fully realise and remedies or help were poor, that would be good UX with bad CX. Obviously, the optimum is getting both right but if one is wrong it would be wise to compensate (at least in the short term) by making sure the other is excellent!