How User Experience and Customer Experience Work Together
User experience and customer experience. They sound almost identical, and yet they refer to different aspects of the way humans interact with brands. That said, at the heart of each is obviously the term “experience”, which is what ties them together, and which is why we’ll argue that they should be integrated, measured, and managed in tandem. Read on to learn more about how the two differ, but how they need to work together and be measured and managed holistically to create a customer-centric competitive advantage.
A User’s Interaction is Determined by CX vs. UX
Google defines user experience as “the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or a computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.” The usability of a digital application or tool is what determines whether it is in fact easy and/or pleasing. (How is usability measured? In our Future of the Interface white paper and below, we outline four key metrics for understanding performance.
Thus, the user experience might also be described as the feeling a person has during and/or after conducting a transaction with some form of technology. It could be frustrating, tedious, challenging, or it could be easy, intuitive, and fast, for example.
According to the Harvard Business Review, customer experience “encompasses every aspect of a company’s offering—the quality of customer care, of course, but also advertising, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, and reliability.” Within this definition, you may notice some commonalities with the user experience described above. It seems that terms like “product and service features” and “ease of use” could be part of either. However, as customer experience “encompasses every aspect”, it tends to keep going beyond UX. In other words, good customer experience must have good user experience, but good UX alone is not enough to deliver a good CX.
Increasingly, the customer experience is becoming more digitized. Pandemic protocols and the resulting cultural shift have accelerated this digital transformation over the last couple of years in particular. Many touchpoints within the customer journey have transformed from human-first to digital-first. Consider the shift to self-checkouts, contactless delivery, robo-advisors, and even 3-D printing. And so UX design is now more likely to impact several steps along the journey from awareness to purchase and ultimately customer loyalty and advocacy.
Digital Products Need to Meet the User’s Needs
That said, not every touchpoint in your customer journey should be digital and/or tech-driven. The State of the US Small Business Banking Experience shows “banking transactions are increasingly handled through digital channels, but a personal touch remains important”, and tends to have a substantive positive impact on the customer experience. Of course with the pandemic, more consumers have been required to shift to digital banking, but this move has pushed some people outside of their comfort zone. In our COVID-19 and the Changing Financial Consumer study, the data showed that respondents aged 55+ are 10-20% less comfortable with this shift, especially with specific transactions that involve showing identification, or getting financial advice.
These findings highlight the importance of understanding your customers’ wants, needs, and pain points as they relate to your specific product and/or service. In addition, they highlight how important it is to understand that these wants, needs, and pain points may be different by customer segment. A balance of human touch and automation is required, but the optimal mix is highly dependent on the type of business and/or transaction, as well as the individual customer.
Making research and analysis a part of the design process helps organizations identify what matters most in the experience, and to whom, so that limited resources can be applied wisely, and risks to both finances and brands can be minimized. At a macro level, research can be used to inform customer journey mapping, which would include every exposure to and interaction with a brand from beginning to end (or more ideally from beginning to customer loyalty and advocacy). Data-driven insights enable an organization to make intelligent choices based on what customers care about.
At a more micro level, research and analysis can also inform the innovation process and improve UX design for any stage within the journey. The same logic applies here. Using both quantitative and qualitative research methods, an organization can evaluate the probable impact on customer satisfaction of one user interface vs. another, or of choosing one type of service feature vs. another, for example. Online or in-person usability testing can further identify UX pain points that might not be apparent through surveys, but that could positively change direction during the design process.
To reiterate, an optimal CX increasingly needs great UX, and as 360 Magazine argues, any organizational silos between the two should be broken for the best experience overall. But not every touchpoint within the CX will require tech and automation. It’s essential to understand customer needs so that digital interfaces are used optimally, and so that the entire customer journey meets or ideally exceeds expectations.
So how can you measure the performance of UX and CX? Are the metrics the same, or how are they different?
Four critical metrics for measuring UX performance are outlined below, along with their definitions which have been written from the perspective of how UX needs to continue to evolve:
- Efficiency: The application’s ability to accurately anticipate the customer’s needs and conduct the task with minimal or no prompting from the user.
- Discoverability: The application’s ability to identify the customer (e.g., within a household) and their context to proactively surface the most relevant content or functionality.
- Memorability: The application’s ability to learn from the customer and present them with anticipatory suggestions and prompts.
- Accessibility: The application’s ability to accommodate users with long-term or situational impediments by minimizing formal input and output requirements.
From the explanations above, you can begin to see how best in class UX is changing from the slick app/interface where a user can very easily enter all necessary information in a speedy non-intrusive manner, to a seamless experience that is so intuitive that it manages to capture and process data while appearing to skip the (obvious) interface altogether. We call it a “human-centric approach”, and it takes into account a user’s complete context, from their immediate service need to their overall life stage, from their location, device, and customer history to their emotional state of mind.
To measure success, these metrics need to be defined for your specific organization, and a baseline needs to be created and then monitored through research and customer feedback. An organization may want to track app downloads and usage percentages, or transaction completion times, for example. As well, tools like customer satisfaction or NPS scoring after a particular interaction can help measure UX performance.
Given the broader scope and added human element of the overall customer experience, precise metrics can be more elusive. However it is still important to measure performance to be able to adapt and adjust as the environment, competition, and customer needs change. One of the more popular tools used is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), where the percentage of detractors is subtracted from the percentage of promoters. However, the use of NPS alone can fail to reveal insights about what exactly is working and not working within the CX.
In his MRIA webcast presentation entitled What Are the X-perience Metrics?, Phase 5 VP Sam Fiorino shares examples of best practices from across 3 different industries and acknowledges that each organization should find the method that works best for them. Sam goes on to describe the Phase 5 “Customer 360” Customer Centricity model developed from our findings and proven effective through its application with various clients.
The process begins by identifying key drivers of customer-centricity to create an index that gauges a company’s performance. It considers various attributes that evaluate the three pillars of customer-centricity (customer service, UX, and innovation) from a customer point of view. Using a customer survey, an organization can gather specific data on each of the key attributes, then use that data to generate a score, and compare that to the industry average.
While measuring CX performance can be challenging, state of CX studies shows how the most successful organizations are pulling ahead in terms of good customer experience measurement, strategy, and performance. Some examples of best practices include a focus on the voice of customer (VOC) monitoring, understanding how CX impacts business results and attaching employee compensation to CX performance.
Hear From Industry Experts
Read the latest tips, research, best practices, and insights from our community of expert B2B service providers.
Customer Interactions Determine Success Rate
Once again, while there is some overlap, the specific metrics of UX and CX are different. UX metrics will be specific to a part of the overall CX, whereas CX measurement will incorporate UX performance in addition to other elements such as Customer Service and Innovation. It is important to measure and manage UX as well as overall CX to deliver on what is most important to customers.
In conclusion, The Future of UX and CX is about focusing on what matters most. The human element is what unites UX and CX, despite them being different elements within an organization’s service delivery and strategy.