The Difference Between User Experience and Customer Experience

Deanne Stock

4 min read

Jun 22, 2021

The Difference Between User Experience and Customer Experience

You know how every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square? User Experience and Customer Experience are kind of like that. Allow me to explain.

User Experience and Customer Experience have many similarities, but ultimately User Experience is just a piece of the bigger puzzle that is Customer Experience. And to really begin to put together these puzzle pieces, it’s vital first to understand why User Experience and Customer Experience are important, individually. 

What is User Experience?

User Experience (UX) encompasses everything that your user, well, experiences, when they use your app. From the color scheme to the font size to how the information is laid out. At the end of the day though, UX is based on a single interaction, but can still make or break your app.  

Bad UX looks like a user having difficulty navigating to another page due to the buttons being hard to find, poor color combinations that make it hard to read text or information that isn’t laid out as expected.

On the other hand, good UX is as easy as one, two, three, and makes it so the user can easily achieve their end goals with no problems. Having color choices that easily signal the next steps, and making it easy to find the correct buttons and links through effective sizing, font, and colors are just two examples of good User Experience.

Based on this information, it can seem as though if an app has a great User Experience, then they’ve won. They’ve won the Great App Experience™ award, which as of now isn’t an actual award but maybe it should be. But User Experience is just the tip of the iceberg. Wait, there’s more? Yes, so much more. 

User Experience is only one part of Customer Experience

As earlier stated, User Experience revolves around a single interaction. The user logs into your app and the UX is what they see and how they navigate. 

Customer Experience, on the other hand, is made up of every single interaction your customers have over time with your company.  In other words, Customer Experience is the understanding behind the how and why in regards to your users’ interactions with your company in any context. 

Depending on your company, it can be with your digital products (app, website), physical locations (employees at a store) or remote support (employees at a call center). Creating a holistic experience that connects each context to support the goals and needs of your customers is no small job. Where do you start?

Customer Experience is about listening to your users

Customer Experience is about understanding what your users want and need from your company and figuring out ways to get that experience to them. Maybe your users are telling you that the wording on your app could be better and therefore make it easier to find what they need. It could be as simple a fix as swapping out the word ‘portfolio’ for ‘profile’. It could be that the system your employee is using doesn’t have access to the same information your customer facing app does and this causes confusion when they try to solve a support problem.  

But how can a company figure out what its users need? Great Customer Experience is about listening to your users when they tell you what is and isn’t working. How do you “listen” to your users? You use research techniques that allow you to capture what is really going on whether that is interviews, observations, surveys or analytics. They’re basically offering you the cheat code to creating a fantastic digital product. It’s up to you to use it.

So what is the ultimate difference between user experience and Customer Experience?

In short, UX is what your customer interacts with on a day-to-day basis. It’s each and every button tap, search, or form fill out in your digital product. Customer Experience, on the other hand, is the entirety of all of those interactions for each and every customer. 

So, having a great UX is fundamental to the daily use of your app. If it doesn’t look good or is confusing to use, you’ll lose customers. Customer Experience allows you to take a relationship’s worth of use and determine what things need to be fixed, clarified, or added on to when it comes to your digital product. It also enables you to make changes to your app that make sense in the long run, helping you avoid things like Design Debt

In other words, the understanding that comes from Customer Experience can inform the details of your User Experience. 

Are you ready for your own cheat code? 

Here at the Ranch, we take a measured and informed approach to Customer Experience. Since there are often multiple ways of solving a challenge, we use an iterative approach of proven CX strategies to help you validate your assumptions or offer a new path to success. 

Ready to get started? Reach out to us and let’s get started.

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