Getting the UX Right: First Step to A Great CX

Is it UX or is it CX? Every industry loves its acronyms, which often have highly specific definitions that apply only to that industry. But broader acronyms, like those for user experience and customer experience, have as many definitions as industries where those acronyms are used.

So let’s start with the basics. From my perspective, UX is more about the design of digital products such as mobile apps, websites, and enterprise software.  The hallmarks of good UX include usability, aesthetics, and overall usefulness of a digital product to the end-user.

We’ve all had a few good experiences with apps and probably more than a few not-so-good experiences. But the importance of UX to a successful digital product cannot be overestimated. Gartner estimates by 2020 that customers will manage 85% of their relationship with a business with no human interaction.

Further, 88% of online consumers say they are less likely to visit a site again following a bad customer experience. This instance may be UX or CX, but it’s probably UX in that a customer experience often includes a touchpoint with a digital product or service.

The touchpoints of CX, on the other hand, incorporate every interaction with your company, your products, your services, your apps and your employees. With CX, these touchpoints include both the digital and physical products and services.

Let’s look closer at those 88% of consumers who will alter their perceptions based on a bad experience. Say that a bad online or app shopping experience leads a customer to call the company, where he receives superior customer service that results in good CX. In that case, you’re making CX lemonade out of those proverbial UX lemons.

On the other hand, one natural extension of a great app experience could be an in-store product pickup. If the customer has to wait in line, the employees are rude or the product isn’t readily available, good UX quickly becomes bad CX. The two are not interchangeable as concepts because one can definitely enhance or detract from the other.

Don’t think of UX and CX as one

A 2014 Forrester Research survey showed that nearly four in 10 companies had both a UX department and a CX department, but those departments were separate. Because of strong associations with digital assets, UK departments often are found under the IT function, while CX often winds up with marketing. Just 13% of companies reported combining CX and UX in the same department.

Given increasing consumer demand for “experiences,” however, it makes sense to bring these departments together under common leadership. UX is in integral part of CX.

Consider Swedish furniture retailer Ikea’s recent purchase of TaskRabbit, a company that “connects consumers with skilled Taskers to handle everyday needs such as furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman work, and home improvements.”

If you’ve ever tried to assemble furniture from Ikea or any retailer whose products come ready-to-assemble, you recognize that Ikea is trying to improve its CX. Assembly directions are often confusing and contradictory, and tales abound of pieces left over and not knowing what to do with them. Ikea’s reputation is for stylish, cheap furniture that’s difficult to assemble. In other words, good UX but not-so-good CX.

Here’s what Ikea Group President and CEO Jesper Brodin said of the purchase: “As urbanisation and digital transformation continue to challenge retail concepts we need to develop the business faster and in a more flexible way. An acquisition of TaskRabbit would be an exciting leap in this transformation and allows us to move forward with an even greater focus on innovation and development to meet changing customer needs.”

Develop synergies around experiences

And those customer needs are changing in ways that threaten to leave less innovative companies behind.

By now, the point should be clear that UX and CX need to work together to provide the best possible customer experience. A survey from business consultancy Walker indicated that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. Additionally, customer experience is expected to eclipse a company’s price and product as a key differentiator by the year 2020, the survey stated.

So to improve the customer experience, you need to examine every link in the sales chain. User experience with your company’s products and your digital properties is critical to that success. UX should be integral to the design process—not an afterthought.

But so should CX. Every phone call, every visitor to your store, every employee interaction is a chance for your company to shine—or fail miserably.

Yes, UX is the first step to a great CX. But UX alone isn’t enough to create the superior brand experiences that today’s (and tomorrow’s) customers are craving.

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