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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Customer experience vs. user experience

One of the marketer's role in an organisation is to understand the needs of its customers and develop a satisfying relationship with them. Today, many organisations dedicate specific marketing staff members solely to digital marketing and to considering how to improve 'customer experience' within digital channels.

When I came to know that the marketing community is all abuzz with the 'customer experience' within and across organisational channels, I noticed that there is another term, 'user experience', which may flow more naturally in the IT business.

So what is the difference between 'customer experience (CX)' and 'user experience (UX)' ?

According to the article, 'Understanding customer experience' in the Harvard Business Review, customer experience is defined as 'the internal and subjective response customers have to any direct or indirect contact with a company.' It says direct contact encompasses touch points between customers and workers, covering purchase, use, service, and indirect contact is said to involve customer's emotion, such as preference, or complaints, that customers feel when they encounter a company's product, service and brand.

On the other hand, ISO 9241-210 (Ergonomics of human-system interaction) provided the definition of user experience as 'a person's perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service'.

Based on these two definitions, I can see that CX and UX look in fact very similar. However, their approaches are somewhat different from each other. UX tends to focus on making a product and service easier and more enjoyable to use for customers, especially in the digital space: websites, mobile phone, tablets. Meanwhile, CX tends to take an extended concept, describing the whole experience that customers have across all the interaction with a company's channel.


In a nutshell, while user experience is developed by a customer's relationship with a product, customer experience is defined by all touch points of company's brand, online and offline. Ultimately, UX makes customers grow attached to the product and leads to more differentiated product competency, and CX extends the scope of experiences across, before and after product-use, and enables companies to take corporate competency by acquiring existing and/or potential customer's loyalty.

So is this distinction actually crucial for business? I believe CX and UX are aligned very closely, and there is a fine line between them. If a company conducts its business online, customer experience begins digitally and user experience is the key.

Marketers at the very least need to clearly identify two definitions of both CX and UX used in the current market, and create great communication and collaboration between two working fields.

Joo Nam Park
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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