Customer experience vs user experience: the fine line that differentiates the two

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The terms user experience and customer experience have been around for a while. We often hear them used interchangeably, but they actually have different definitions. While user experience is a design-focused term, customer experience has a broader meaning. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to the key differences.

Table of Content

Defining The User Experience (UX)

The term UX was coined in the ’90s by Don Norman of Nielsen Norman group. It describes a user’s experience with a product as a whole. That includes factors like ease of use, visual design, product success, pain points, and so on.

UX is everything that relates to your product or service. From marketing to sales to after-sales support. It seems all-encompassing when you put it like that. Yet, UX is just a part of what makes up your customer experience.

Defining The Customer Experience (CX)

You can describe the customer experience as the overall impression that your brand leaves on a customer. It encompasses emotional factors like feelings, perceptions, and trust. The experience that a customer has with your product is part of that, but there’s more to it.

Your UX team might be focused on the design elements of a product. That way, your design facilitates good CX. Your CX team would look at how that aligns with your product delivery and support, as well as external factors like brand reputation and relative pricing.

This diagram sums up the relationship between CX and UX pretty well.

UX vs CX

Image sourced from

Key Differences Between UX & CX and Why They Matter

The differences between customer experience vs user experience can be seen in their objectives and how they’re used in a business. It’s important to understand these differences. Aligning your UX development with your CX strategy is only possible when you recognise UX as a supporting element.

Many UX professionals feel that UX design isn’t being used to its full potential. That’s down to UX not being seen as a vital supporting pillar for your overall CX.

UX Objectives

The key objectives of a UX team look like this:

  • Remove friction from the buyer’s journey
  • Create a seamless product interface
  • Solve common customer pain points
  • Prioritise ease of use
  • Use direct customer feedback for optimisation

Their goals rely on customer satisfaction, but the path to achieving those goals is product-focused. A good UX design means your customer will have an easy time navigating your site or using your product.

UX Examples

So, common tasks that a UX designer would work on might include redesigning your website navigation or running software testing to identify customer pain points in your app. UX also looks at user feedback from beta testing or in-deployment testing to refine UX elements.

CX Objectives

CX team objectives, on the other hand, look more like this:

  • Use business data to gain customer insights
  • Identify and address trends like recurring support issues
  • Track sentiment & brand perception
  • Create an attractive brand experience
  • Promote and track customer satisfaction
  • Decrease churn & increase customer retention

CX goals rely on analytical data as well as subjective customer data. Monitoring sentiment data through social media channels and behavioural data from across your channels are part of it.

It’s important to remember, though, that CX is about providing a good experience for customers. That means that CX teams can’t focus only on the raw data; they also need to engage customers on a human level.

CX Examples

A typical CX task could be anything from reviewing call logs, to analysing behavioural data, to spearheading customer retention strategies. Promoting a positive experience with your brand is the overall goal of your CX team.

Customer Experience vs User Experience

Image sourced from

How Do You Measure CX/UX Success?

Now you know where the division between customer experience vs user experience is, you’ll want to start looking at the success of each discipline separately. These are the key metrics you’ll need to keep track of to measure CX and UX success.

Important CX Metrics

CX is difficult to measure. It comes down to how satisfied your customers are, and that’s hardly an exact science. There are a few key indicators you can use to measure CX improvements, though.

  • CSAT Scores (Customer Satisfaction Scores)

You determine this by conducting customer satisfaction surveys. The score is an aggregate of how satisfied your customers are across the survey respondents.

  • Net Promoter Scores

These also rely on customer surveys, you need to ask customers how likely they are to recommend your business. The question is usually framed on a 1-10 scale. Anyone who answers a 9-10 is a promoter, 7-8 is passive, and 6 and below are detractors.

  • Churn Rate

Churn rate is the main stat that your CX team wants to keep down. Monitoring the numbers alone won’t tell you much here, though. You’ll also need the reasons for churn rates and where most churn is likely to occur.

  • Important UX Metrics

The metrics you want to measure for UX focus more on functionality. Your primary concern is how well your product, website, app, etc., help your users reach their goals.

  • Web Analytics (Performance and Load Speed)

If you’re running an e-commerce site or an app, how well it performs is key to your user experience. If you have a high page load speed, you’ll increase bounce rates before users get to experience your UX.

Time on Page is also a useful metric. High times can be great for users absorbing content. But, if you see high times in your purchase process, it’s too slow, and you’ll see increased churn rates.

  • Time on task

This metric measures how long it takes users to complete a task like navigating to your knowledge base. It’s handy for measuring the usability of your website or app. If you see high time-to-task numbers, then you need to work on your navigation design.

  • Adoption Rate

You can use adoption rates to see how well you retain customers who’ve used your product or service. This is the ratio between the number of new customers and your overall customer numbers.

How to Use Data to Inform UX Design and Improve CX

Although UX and CX have their differences, they’re both aimed at creating satisfied customers. That means that both disciplines work well together, with good UX design feeding into a positive customer experience.

Both your UX and CX teams can make use of business data in different ways. When you use real-time customer data to inform your UX design and CX strategies, you can empower both teams to succeed.

Customer experience

Free to use image sourced from Unsplash


Personalisation of content is essential to a good customer experience. 66% of consumers want brands to listen to and address their needs, and 49% will make an impulse purchase after a personalised experience.

Using transactional data from your CRM system, you can identify customer needs and behaviours. You can use this data to create personalised content for your users, enhancing the CX. From a UX perspective, you need to build interfaces with dynamic personalisation in mind.

Buyer Personas

Personalisation on an account level takes a lot of time and resources. You can use buyer personas to apply the principles of personalisation to a wider segment of your audience.

By comparing social media trends and your own audience segmentation data, you can gain insight into the types of personalities that make up your core audience. These buyer personas can then be used to better cater to your customer’s needs.

Remove Friction From Your Buyer’s Journey

Every buyer’s journey has hurdles, whether your customers get frustrated when they're kept on call waiting or they don’t understand your delivery options. Start by using behavioural data from your website or app to determine where your bounce rates are the highest.

For example, you might find that customers go all the way through your sales funnel but abandon their shopping carts at the final step. That could indicate that there’s a design flaw in your purchase page, like a cluttered UI that’s confusing users.

However, if bounce rates are high but your designs test well, there might be a less tangible reason that customers are being turned away. This is where CX comes in. By taking direct feedback from customers, you can highlight frustrations that aren’t clear from data alone.

Improve Website Usability

Using analytical data from your website or app can often demonstrate any bottlenecks in your process. Users aren’t generally web designers, and they may not know exactly what’s stopping them from achieving their goals.

In that case, you need to look at the user’s desired outcomes and see what blockers are preventing them. Feeding this back into your UX design is vital to overcoming user pain points. Testing automation software can help with running continual testing on your website or app.

Refine Your Multichannel/Omnichannel Strategy

UX might deal with one channel at a time, but CX needs to consider all of your customer touchpoints. Using social data, chatbot data, customer support, marketing, and sales data will help you refine your CX approach across multiple channels.


Free to use image sourced from Pixabay

Final Thoughts

Customer experience vs user experience, they aren’t interchangeable terms, but they are two disciplines that work best together. UX should be looking to enhance CX with their designs. CX should be continually feeding back data insights to UX teams to assist with that. Make sure your CX and UX are working together.

Bio:Tanhaz Kamaly - Partnership Executive, UK, Dialpad UK

Tanhaz Kamaly is a Partnership Executive at Dialpad, a modern cloud-hosted business communications platform that turns conversations into the best opportunities, both for businesses and clients with features like call forwarding by Dialpad. He is well-versed and passionate about helping companies work in constantly evolving contexts, anywhere, anytime.

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