How would you define CX vs. UX? | UpTop Health

How would you define CX vs. UX?

14m 26s
Moderator: Michael Woo (Director of UX)
Interviewees: Abbey Smith (UX Designer), Deborah Roberts (UX Designer), Michael Woo (Director of UX)

Episode Transcript

Moderator/Michael: Welcome, everybody, back to another episode of the UX Roundtable, I’m joined by Deborah and Abbey. So today’s topic, it’s going to be pretty interesting and fun to talk about. Over the weekend I came across this article by Jared Spool that he wrote titled “UX and CX: Same Language, Different Dialects” and it just got me thinking about the basic question that I wanted to ask you two about your perspectives on this. How would you define CX versus UX? And, Abbey, why don’t you go first?

Abbey: Sure. So I think this is kind of interesting to preface, none of us have talked about this beforehand, so I’m interested to see what everyone else says too. But the way I break it down in my head is that there are a lot of levels of experience within a greater idea. So UX is a part of CX. I’ve seen a lot of diagrams that show CX as a big circle and then UX as a smaller circle inside that, and I think that’s a good way to visualize it.

UX is the experience people have while interacting with a product or service specifically. So if you’re going to buy a sweater online, for example, UX is how they get from search to purchase on the website. CX is all about the interaction that that person has with your company/slash brand as a whole over time. The key is how they perceive those actions.

It feels like there’s a much more tangible empathy, emotional aspect, needing to happen within customer experience on the whole. So like with buying a sweater, not only is it how they get from search to purchase on the website, it’s how they get to that website in the first place, it’s how they see the emails that come in after, how the delivery happens, what the packaging looks like, what the tags on the sweater look like. It’s all of that and then it’s also how the user feels about doing all of those things, which creates a relationship, whether that’s good or bad. So I think the biggest thing to understand is that there are a ton of different levels within an experience and it’s good to optimize all of those levels to make sure your customer experience is working well. That’s where I’m at.

Moderator/Michael: Great. Now, Deborah, don’t let Abbey’s answer influence yours. If you have a totally different one, let’s hear it, but if it’s the same, so be it.

Deborah: Well, I wouldn’t say that mine is different. I think Abbey really kind of hit the nail on the head of my understanding of the differences between UX and CX. What I would add is that I think, as the UX industry has developed, oftentimes I would hear user experience being used to define an interaction between a user and an organization. And as it’s evolved, I think the language has evolved along with that and so now, oftentimes, when people say user experience, that can mean more like a single interaction, a more specific interaction that’s taking place, as opposed to looking on the customer journey as a whole through multiple channels and multiple touchpoints and over the life of that customer and business relationship.

And it is important because I think sometimes, if you are just designing on an interaction level, you could have different teams working on different parts of the customer journey, working on different interactions. And if you’re looking at them singularly, you might think, “Oh, this actually is a great solution. This works well. This is a good interaction.” But then when you put them all together, they actually might not work well together. They may not flow, they may not make sense together, and that is why I think CX is so important as it is looking at it holistically as a whole looking at the entire customer journey. That’s where customer journey mapping can be so important and valuable to your process so you can see how all these points interact together.

It’s also helpful then to think about, in your organization, coordination between departments. Because again, if you are siloed, just looking at one piece of the puzzle, you’re going to be presenting an experience that doesn’t flow for your customer. It’s not going to feel like a really nice, cohesive experience.

Moderator/Michael: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I promise you, just like Abbey said, we did not rehearse this ahead of time, but it is nice to hear that both of your perspectives actually are in alignment with how I’ve thought about it as well. But I must say that it can get blurry. Let me just kind of break it down and almost be redundant based off of what you guys have said.

So I think as well, CX is this holistic experience, both digital and non when you interact with a company or brand, and I’ve always thought of UX as a interaction with a digital product, tool, or service, a direct interaction with that. And again, like both of you guys have been saying, it’s a subset of the CX experience. But it’s funny because I sometimes get the two mixed up because, when I experienced any one of those interactions, I always say, “That’s great UX.” But then I have to think about it. “Wait. Was that CX or UX?” You know what I mean? But I always say UX and I don’t know why. Maybe that’s just because that’s what we do every day.

Hypothetically I was trying to tie it to an example and you guys have used some great examples, but let’s tie it back to the healthcare industry. I know in the past I showed up in a Swedish hospital, it was a local hospital here, and I showed up in their emergency room, but this is just hypothetical, again, it can be a terrible experience where maybe you’re injured and you’re bleeding profusely, but you still have to sit there and wait for hours because there’s a lot of people ahead of you who have more urgent needs. I would think of that as, again, customer experience, although it’s kind of odd to say that we are a customer, although, I guess if you’re going directly to the hospital you always go to, then technically you can be a customer.

And then I think about post that visit, you have to go pay for the bill, you go to the member portal site for your insurance company. That would be kind of a user experience again, tying it back to that digital interaction.

But both are on the map of this greater customer experience map, if you will, of how everything ties together. But again it can get very, very blurry. Part of this discussion is bringing up some of those points in the article, and I wanted to ask you guys the question: if there is a difference between the two and, as I explained to you, the two other examples that people kind of think about the two, maybe you guys tell me if it really matters or not?

One theory is that UX and CX is the pre-sale or the post-sale experience. So there’s a set of people that believe that CX is what happens before the product or service is actually purchased. Okay? And that the UX is everything that happens after the purchase. I can kind of see that logic, however, I think that, technically, they’re not customers before they purchase, they are prospects, if you will, but I think that’s getting into the semantics of it, right? So that’s one theory.

The other theory is that… hold on. Losing my track here, hold on. It’s the other way around. Okay? That people believe CX only embodies the experience of the paying customer while UX includes everyone, whether they made that decision or not. And again, I see the logic there as well, but that’s really breaking down the definition of the words down to a T. Okay?

And the third one is what we believe in, which is that UX is part of the greater CX concept. But again, does it matter? Does it matter which one you believe in? Is there a right or wrong answer? I don’t know who wants to take that.

Deborah: I’ll start. I would say the wrong answer would be to not think about your user’s journey as a whole. When you start breaking it down and you say, “I’m only working on the CX,” or “I’m only working on the UX,” that can be dangerous, or when you try and separate it because I do think it’s all interrelated and both are equally important and they both speak to the overall perception, Abbey, like you were talking about, that the user has of your organization and their experience.

So I don’t know if I’m answering your question exactly, but yeah, I think it is confusing. I’ll be honest, I’ve been confused too in learning about the two and the differences between them because there is different groups of thought, but I think it’s just really important to look at your user’s experience as a whole. Abbey, do you have any thoughts?

Abbey: I mean, I’m trying to wrap my brain around it too because I don’t see how you can focus on the customer experience without focusing on the user experience. For each part of a customer’s journey down the line, starting from prospect to giving feedback, that’s a customer journey, but within each one of those little checkpoints along the way, there’s UX happening at each one of those.

Deborah: Right.

Abbey: So yeah, I’m not really sure how you can think about it in a way other than UX as part of the greater CX.

Deborah: Yeah.

Moderator/Michael: Yeah. And I don’t think any of the theories is saying that one has to co-exist without the other. I think they are just basically saying which one comes first or how it’s defined, but as I was thinking about it, I was thinking of, depending on how it’s defined, it needs to be defined similarly within an organization. So everybody has to know what it means to work on CX or what it means to work on the UX portion so they’re all rowing in the same direction. Otherwise, I think that’s where it could be problematic.

And even when you work with outside firms or whatever it is and they are helping to support that vision, they too need to know what it means by however term you want to choose. But yeah, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong, I think we all have that shared goal of providing that ultimate, effortless experience for the end-user. Whether you want to call them customers or users, or what have you, I think the goal is the same.

And you guys could read the article and kind of dig a little bit deeper about the origins of it talking about how CX kind of came first and so it has more of a marketing spin to it, and then UX kind of evolved later out of it and therefore the main differences between the two are really the research methods employed, but otherwise pretty much the same.

Abbey: That’s funny because the articles that I have been reading too have also said UX came first.

Deborah: That’s what I read too.

Moderator/Michael: Maybe it depends how old you are.

Deborah: Right. Because I think, to your point, CX in the past was more of a marketing world, right?

Abbey: True.

Moderator/Michael: That’s right.

Abbey: Marketing is usually the kind of people who think about that specifically.

Deborah: Yeah. It is interesting though, thinking about that point of it is that I do think when thinking about CX, it’s helping you to deliver the right UX experience, the right UX interactions at the right time. It’s helping you to understand your customer’s needs, what information they’re looking for at what point in the journey, and then you’re delivering them that specific interaction and experience.

Abbey: Totally.

Moderator/Michael: Yeah. Well, I like all your guys’ answers because it was the same as mine.

Abbey: I’m glad we’re all on the same page.

Deborah: Yeah.

Moderator/Michael: Yeah. All right. Well, it was fun talking. Until next time.

Abbey: Yeah.

Deborah: Bye.