Alfonso de la Nuez, founder and Co-CEO of UserZoom, highlights the difference between Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX) and discusses why business success depends on them working together to create consistently exceptional experiences.

It was a recent Friday evening and my very hungry 10-yr-old was craving a good pizza. I accepted his ‘kind invitation’ and headed over to… my iPhone, of course! As Papa John’s no longer delivers in my area, I really needed to look for an alternative, pronto. Fortunately, I’d heard about Grubhub, so I went ahead and started a brand new journey, a totally new experience, with their app, hoping it would save my butt from major disaster (because we all know… you’re not you when you’re hungry!)

That’s what I call a great USER Experience!

Great UX design is invisible. You usually only pay attention to the design of things when it’s poor, or when you have issues. If you can simply do what you came to do in an effortless, fast and pleasant way, that’s a sign of great design. Thanks to Grubhub’s killer usability and content, in about 5 minutes the app allowed me to effortlessly perform the following tasks:

  1. Quickly sign up as a new user (using one of my Google accounts SSO login),
  2. Configure my profile (basic preferences, address and payment method),
  3. Easily search and select a nearby pizza restaurant (I picked Round Table Pizza this time),
  4. Efficiently customize the pizza, and finally
  5. Simply order the pizza.

Here’s a few screenshots of Grubhub:

grubhub mobile screenshots

What a great start! There’s no second chance to make a great first impression, so way to go Grubhub! That’s what I call great UX.

Once confirmed, the order details estimated a 25-35 minute delivery time. That’s totally normal and expected on a Friday night, so I went ahead and reported the news to the family. Wow, what a great Dad!

Up until that point, I had a truly exceptional user experience with Grubhub’s product. However what happened next was far from exceptional.

This is what I call a poor CUSTOMER Experience

First, the pizza arrived 65 minutes after the order was placed, not 25-35 minutes as estimated. I wasn’t notified about the delay at any time. Hey, it’s Friday night and some flexibility is reasonable, but doubling the original estimated delivery time without any notice at all is not acceptable, at least not when you’re trying to deliver a killer experience and differentiate yourself from your competition, right?

Well, that’s not all…

Next, the delivery driver was not only late, but he delivered the the wrong pizza! I opened the box while in the kitchen (with my hungry 10-yr-old staring at me with an angry face after having  waited for 1 hour) and as soon as I noticed it was not our order I hurried out to the driveway to let the driver know. His answer stunned me: ‘Sir I’m from Grubhub, I only deliver what Round Table Pizza gives me. So you need to deal with them from this point on’. And so he drove away, erasing any resemblance of the hero Dad I had hoped to be just 60 minutes ago.

Now that’s what I call a very poor CX.

The initial UX was great, and part of the journey (the digital interaction with the app) had made a great impression on me, had done the job, and had created a true fan of the brand. Yet this nice digital UX was just 50% of the journey. Once I became a customer (after step 5 above), the rest went all wrong.

To make matters worse, of course I wrote them a feedback note using the Grubhub app, explaining the situation in very detailed format, as I was really upset. You would think that, in this mega competitive pizza market, as well as a crowded food delivery app market, someone would have contacted me to offer me an apology and, at the very least, some credit towards the next order. I guess I’m used to Amazon.com’s standards?

Well no, that’s not what happened at all. Instead, I’ve been getting these (see picture below) every week since the original order:

Mmmm, I don’t think so!

A great Customer Experience is an imperative to businesses’ success today

If anyone still has any doubts that delivering a great Customer Experience (CX) is an imperative to businesses’ success, I have some news for you: SAP bought Qualtrics, the leading Experience Management Platform, for a whopping $8 billion.

Needless to say, SAP obviously considers that Experience Management and the type of data it provides combined with the operational data SAP already collects, is absolutely essential for the future of business and, therefore, it’s a huge market opportunity for them. That’s why the relatively high price paid made a ton of sense. Big time congrats to Ryan Smith and everyone at Qualtrics for the amazing accomplishment and, as he puts it, once in a generation opportunity.

While I was very surprised to hear the news at first, I certainly know great customer experiences and good design pay off hefty dividends, and it’s now becoming more evident that there’s significant financial ROI behind it. This deal is, undeniably, living proof.

Every company is a software company

As Wikipedia puts it, CX is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction is made up of three parts: the customer journey, the brand touchpoints the customer interacts with, and the environments the customer experiences (including digital environment) during their experience.

Increasingly, most of these interactions within the journey are digital (websites, apps, social media, etc). As such, we’re constantly hearing about the ‘digital transformation’ of the Enterprise. Software has been eating the world for about a decade now. Essentially, today every company is a software company.

Now if digital is the more typical way we interact with a brand, and CX is key to success, then User Experience (UX) is an increasingly essential piece of the greater CX puzzle. I often hear and read about the two terms, CX and UX, mentioned interchangeably and I see there’s quite a bit of confusion about it. Reputable research firms like Gartner and Forrester Research are covering both CX and UX more and more in their research, as the demand for know-how increases among their customer base.

One of the areas of emphasis is in the need to distinguish each term, in order to help better understand how to manage them…

“User experience is critical to ensuring a successful customer experience. But CX leaders face confusion and lack of integration between these two disciplines, undermining the power of both,” writes Jane-Anne Mennella, Sr. Director Analyst at Gartner, in an October report called ‘Integrate User Experience Into Your Customer Experience to Improve Outcomes’.

“Most companies now understand that the quality of customer experiences drives business results. But your colleagues who misunderstand key cX/uX concepts risk botching strategic decisions,” writes David Truog, VP of Research at Forrester Research, in a report called ‘Demystifying The Language Of CX And UX’.

CX and UX need to work together to create exceptional experiences

My goal for writing this article is twofold:

First, I want to highlight the clear differentiation between CX and UX. They are very related, but they are also different. I hope the simple real-life example I provided helped identify both the close relationship as well as the differences.

  • UX focuses, among other things, on product design and usability, in a more proactive way, before the product is developed and then launched. To be measured, you need to unlock insights derived from task success rates, efficiency rates, and SUS (System Usability Scale), as well as the why and how (behavioral data) users do what they do.
  • CX focuses on satisfaction and other attitudinal metrics, such as NPS (Net Promoter Score) and other ratings, typically collected through surveys, and it’s measure post product launch phase.
Credit: https://medium.com/@denysergushkin/cx-vs-ux-8ef583f7a23c
Credit: http://ravingcx.com/ux-cx-understanding-the-journey/

Second, and more important, is that ultimately CX and UX need to work together in order to deliver a great overall experience. Period. It’s not about user, or customer. It’s both.

It’s about the overall experience. The way I experienced Grubhub may have started with an ad, then it was with its product (app), then with one of their employees, and finally with Round Table Pizza’s product (the wrong pizza). All of these touchpoints contributed to the overall experience I had with the two companies.

Here’s what Jane-Anne Mennella from Gartner recommends: “To improve customer experience design and execution, CX leaders must:

  • Utilize the CX and UX teams to their fullest advantage, both separately and together, by understanding the role each discipline plays in delivering and maintaining the brand’s overall CX.
  • Ensure collaboration between CX and UX programs by creating cross-functional teams, and aligning goals and resources.
  • Share research data such as customer and product insights gleaned from testing, outcomes, deliverables and best practices to increase both teams’ depth of understanding and knowledge.”

I really appreciate Gartner’s take on this where the author notes:

Your brand cannot have a good CX if its UX is poor. Even worse, a poor UX doesn’t just cause dissatisfaction or increase detractors among your customers and prospects, it can lead to complete abandonment of your brand. It isn’t enough for your organization to have UX and CX teams. The two groups must work together to deliver the optimal experience your customers expect.”

Related to UX Design, here’s a reference to McKinsey & Company and their recent paper on The Business Value of Design:

  • First, at the top of the organization, adopt an analytical approach to design by measuring and leading your company’s performance in this area with the same rigor the company devotes to revenues and costs.
  • Second, put the user experience front and center in the company’s culture by softening internal boundaries (between physical products, services, and digital interactions, for example) that don’t exist for customers.
  • Third, nurture your top design people and empower them in cross-functional teams that take collective accountability for improving the user experience while retaining the functional connections of their members.
  • Finally, iterate, test, and learn rapidly, incorporating user insights from the first idea until long after the final launch.

Conclusion

Due to all this, I bet we’re soon going to see convergence in the CX and UX markets. You simply can’t have one without the other and still be competitive in the marketplace. They need to partner up, understand each other and align goals and resources.  

Every company will soon be a software company. They’ll be using lean and agile design and development practices. Most interactions with a brand will be through digital channels. And User Research will play a huge role, because great experiences will require deep understanding of the end user as well as the customer.

To understand the current state of UX research in 2018, download our brand new State of UX in the Enterprise 2018 survey report. 
state of ux 2018

Main article image by Stefan Barkman