The customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) often get treated as interchangeable terms, or two sides of the same coin. While this may not be completely correct, learning how the two blends, and how you can use both to improve your business and your website, is crucial.
So, what do each of these terms really mean for your business, and how can you better combine them? Here’s what you need to know.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer Experience, or CX for short, relates to how customers interact with your company or brand in the long term. This encompasses not only your website or app but all facets of your company, product, service, or brand.
If customers have to call in for service or repairs, how well are they treated? If a customer tries to return or exchange a product, can they do so easily? Is your billing department a phone-call nightmare, or easy to navigate and contact?
Each of these questions factors into the overall customer experience. If you have a trend of bad CX, no matter how good your UX might be on an individual basis, your business will not succeed.
You can avoid bad CX by allowing customers to give direct feedback on their experience via a survey. Qualtrics offer a great free survey maker tool that makes it easier than ever to create an online survey and gather actionable information.
What is User Experience?
User experience, or UX for short, relates to how customers or users feel about short interactions with your company or brand. This includes website visits, application uses, and all the individual interactions that occur on a day-to-day basis.
Does your website use the methods and means available to load fast? Does your app close randomly? Do clicks or button presses register on the first try? These questions all factor in user experiences.
Good UX can be the foundation of good CX, but the two refer to different spheres and scales. Even if your systems are well-designed for good UX, if the human element of the system fails, you can still have bad CX.
How Can I Combine the Two for the Best Results?
Now that you know how user experience and customer experience relate, you may wonder how you can combine the two to achieve the best results. We have a few suggestions listed below:
Consult Your Customer Support Team for User Experience Insights
You read that right. Consult customer support, not tech support, for UX insights. Why reach out to them?
Customer support is many customers’ first phone call. Many won’t think to look for a tech support line. Some expect to get forwarded to tech support automatically. This means that, often, the customer support team bears the brunt of user complaints about the company’s systems.
To complicate matters, if your customer support team has not received proper call center etiquette training, the customer may disconnect before they even reach tech support, believing the representative hung up on them. In such circumstances, the purpose of the client’s call won’t get recorded. Tech support will then have no clue about what might prove a common issue.
Consider Hiring People With Customer Service Backgrounds for User Experience Teams
Connected to the above, having people with backgrounds in customer service on your user experience teams can be a godsend for small companies. Those with a background in customer service know well how to empathize and place themselves in the shoes of potential users. That sense of empathy might allow them to spot problems an expert in programming may not otherwise notice.
Consider User Experience Your Building Block for Customer Experience
As mentioned above, a trend of good UX does not by default mean good CX. However, it’s unlikely that your business will have good CX if it has a trend of bad to horrible UX.
Consider the example used above for poor CX: a billing department that is a nightmare to navigate. The most common cause for this is the use of poorly optimized automated phone systems with faulty voice recognition.
Each step of the phone call to reach the billing department, and ultimately pay the bill in question, is an individual instance of UX. If each of these steps goes smoothly and without incident, the CX will be positive. If the customer must repeat themselves again and again, or the system refuses to allow them to speak to a human after repeated failures, your CX will plummet.
Digitization Blurs the Line
When your company or brand exists only in website or app form, the distinction between UX and CX becomes almost nonexistent. Anything that sours user experience prevents conversion and affects customer experience as well. Make sure you keep your site in line with user and customer expectations if your business is all-digital!
Examine Experiences as a Journey
Let’s piggyback on the above point about UX as a building block for CX. Examine your experiences on a whole, journey level, rather than an individual level. Isolating the steps of the user experience may produce acceptable results, but when not examined as a whole, the customer experience falls apart.
Returning to the above billing example, let’s say you’ve tested each step of the automated phone system. Then, you’ve tested the interactions between your billing team and customers. Individually, each of these systems worked well.
In practice, the automated phone system frustrated the user, who only wanted to speak to someone and pay their bill. They come into the call frustrated and unable to articulate their needs. That leads to misunderstandings and false information being given. This escalates what should have been a simple transaction into a customer service incident.
Don’t lose the forest for the trees. Take a step back and examine the whole.
Bringing It All Together
User experience and customer experience are closely connected fields with different scales. By examining and combining the two, you can improve your business’s function and reviews.
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