To the uninitiated, the user experience and customer experience might seem to be the same thing. While they’re not, they do have a lot in common. This article can help you to understand both the differences between them and how they interact with each other. With this knowledge, you can make the right decisions for your products and your brand.
What is the difference between the user experience and the customer experience (CX)?
The user experience relates to the ways in which people interact and engage with your product or Web site. Designers of both digital products such as Web sites, applications, and digital storefronts and physical products focus on the user experience.
Plus, the user experience is about how people feel about the product’s user interface rather than the technical details of how it works. Of course, the consistency and usability of the user interface and the stability of the product impact the user experience. People have a good user experience when a product or site meets or surpasses customers’ expectations.
The customer experience refers to how customers feel about your brand as a whole. It goes beyond their experience of a single product and covers all aspects of your business. You could think of the customer experience as the user experience for your brand, but it’s actually the culmination of your customers’ experiences across all the products and services you offer.
The customer experience also covers things such as customer support and brand identity. Every way in which customers interact with your business affects the customer experience. Direct contacts, marketing, and the products themselves all influence how your customers feel about your business.
How Does the User Experience Influence the Customer Experience?
The user experience undoubtedly has a huge impact on the customer experience. You can have the best marketing in the world, but it’s all for naught if the product doesn’t deliver what users need. Based on your marketing, customers come to your products with particular expectations. You’ve got to deliver what you’ve promised. Both the user experience and the customer experience should always be on the designer’s mind throughout the entire design process.
Some customers interact with your brand only through the use of your products. When products work seamlessly, they’ll have little need to contact customer support. In such cases, getting the user experience right is one of the few ways to influence the customer experience.
7 Ways the User Experience Affects the Customer Experience
Certain aspects of the user experience can have big impacts on the customer experience. Let’s consider six ways in which the user experience affects the customer experience.
1. The Sign-up Process
First impressions are crucial. They determine what users can expect from your brand. Signing up to use your product needs to be easy. That may seem obvious, but it’s worth saying. Figure 1 shows an example of a less than stellar sign-up process.
As businesses become more data driven, it can be tempting for them to ask for copious amounts of user data during sign-up. Avoid doing this. It typically results in an overly long sign-up process. You can always gather more data over time. For example, you can send surveys to users to get their feedback and additional user data as well.
Provide a clean sign-up page that shows your brand personality. You should feel proud to display your brand logo on your sign-up page. Use a logo generator if you haven’t already got one.
Some digital products lock customers out of everything until they sign up. This is a mistake. If you’re running a digital storefront or publication, let visitors browse. Shoppers expect to be able to walk into a bricks-and-mortar store without encountering any obstacles. They expect the same from digital stores.
Streamline the sign-up process by letting users sign in with their social media or Google account. This speeds up the process by autopopulating many required fields.
2. Site Search
Invest in the best site-search tool. You need to facilitate product discovery. Customers who can’t quickly find what they’re looking for will abandon your site.
You must associate useful, accurate keywords with your products to enable users to find them using your search system. Badly optimized search results present users with lists of products that are only tangentially connected to their search. When they come upon a wall of stuff they don’t want, they’ll leave your site.
For example, imagine that a user is visiting the Web site of a company that deals in business communications and is looking for a hosted contact-center solution. The user should be able to find it by searching for a variety of phrases. Searching for "call center," "phone bank software," "or contact center software" should all get the user to the product he wants.
Of course, some users prefer to browse. You can make this easier by dividing groups of products into meaningful categories and subcategories. How granular you get with this depends on the nature of the business. The more products you offer, the more you need to break down your catalog into subcategories. In fashion, for example, there would likely be multiple versions of similar products, so you would need to let users filter the search results by style, size, and color.
One way in which to provide a terrible customer experience is by hiding things from customers. There is nothing more enraging to customers than to get to the checkout page and find a list of unexpected charges. Whenever possible, include additional charges in the headline price. Users respond positively to up-front transparency. Shipping and taxes are unavoidable costs. Users know that, but don’t want to do the math before making a purchase. However, it’s not customary to include taxes in prices in the US. After all, they can vary widely depending on how your business is set up and where you’re doing business. But, if possible, include taxes in a product’s price.
4. The Hard Sell
From a business perspective, it makes sense to extract the most value out of every transaction. But sell too hard, and you’ll frighten off your customers. Never hard sell your new customers. Let them get to know your brand, and they’ll want to explore what else you offer. Customers who have a good user experience come back for more.
You can acquire customer data through your customers’ purchases. Use this data to understand what your customers might find interesting. Subtle, but apt suggestions of good product pairings can increase your revenues. But you must find the right point at which to make such suggestions. Avoid pushing extras at every possible opportunity.
A variety of people with different needs likely make up your customer base. Some of these people may be differently abled. Find ways to provide a great user experience for all people. For example, not every user can easily use a keyboard, so integrate a voice-input feature into your app or Web site, as depicted in Figure 2. This enables more customers to enjoy a great user experience.
Another thing to think about are people with sight difficulties. For example, you could provide text-sizing options. You could even provide customers the ability to correct images for color-deficient vision.
6. Second-Class Users
Your brand may offer different tiers of service to different customers. While this is a good way to serve a wide variety of customers, be wary of leaving some customers feeling like second-class users.
Premium customers pay more for extra services or features of products. But don’t forget the customers in other tiers. Entry-level customers should feel as valued as your premium customers. You’ve probably got more lower-tier customers than premium ones, so their loyalty is perhaps even more important.
There’s another good reason to ensure lower-tier customers are happy. They may intend to upgrade one day. So it pays to deliver a good user experience to all levels of customers.
7. Adding a Personal Touch
Businesses are increasingly reliant on digital technologies. Although customers have come to expect that businesses are doing more and more online, they often still want to feel that there are people behind everything.
Add a personal touch by letting your customers get to know your team. Provide profiles on your Web site that show why your people love doing what they do. Get your team members to talk about their favorite products on your social-media channels.
Provide avenues for your customers to get in touch. Call-center technology has come a long way with affordable innovations such as PBX on cloud. Give customers an email address or WhatsApp number to which they can post messages, too. Ensure that your customers can contact a real person, regardless of how they communicate.
In this article, I’ve discussed several ways in which the user experience impacts the customer experience. Get the user experience right, and customers naturally feel good about your brand. Make delivering a high-quality user experience a priority, but don’t ignore the other things that influence the customer experience. You and your customers will see the benefits!
Jenna is Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, whose cloud-hosted VoIP and PBX systems incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) to create a unified communications system that provides valuable call details to business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating the brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how to present content in creative and comprehensive ways. Jenna has also written for other domains such as TRAFFIT and Codemotion. Read More