The Difference between the User Experience and the Customer Experience

By many in the field, User Experience, or UX and Customer Experience, or CX are often used interchangeably. Part of the reason is that these two are inextricably linked in our technological world. But, in fact, they are quite distinct from each other in terms of discussion. In this article, we hope to clarify – briefly – the difference between the two and the areas of common ground.

User Experience (UX) is how people interact with your product and how they report on their experience from that interaction. Once upon a time in the analog world, this might have meant, when and where people drink Coke, and their reactions to that experience. The idea was ultimately to use this data to improve your product and make for a better user experience. Today, much product interaction is digital.

On the other hand, Customer Experience (CX) is reflective of how customers interact with your brand from a big picture perspective. CX seeks to measure how satisfied customers are with your business in general. So, in addition to the product or service itself, CX will often incorporate customer service components, brand reputation, brand proposition, past and present advertising, how you execute on distributing the product/service, how well you do on communications around the sales cycle, and any other interaction components that could affect your brand, including what we define as the User Experience.

I have included a graphic below from Jerry Cao (2016) that highlights this relationship perfectly from a technology perspective:

Comparison of UX and CX relationship

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In many organizations, these two functions live in different parts of the organization, but as you can see, even when this is true, they should be considered together. UX is a major impact on CX. This perhaps, is one of the reasons they are used interchangeably.

We hope this brief discussion was helpful.

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