CX vs UX? Same language; different dialects

Photo by Muhammad Raufan Yusup on Unsplash
Jared Spool, UIE

Some people will tell you that the difference between the customer experience and the user experience is whether we’re talking pre-sales or post-sales. These people believe the CX is what happens before the product or service is purchased. The UX is everything that happens after the purchase.

Other people will tell you that UX is a subset of CX. These people believe the UX only includes when users are interacting with a digital product or service. The CX is the overarching experience, including any non-digital activities users engage in.

And still other people will tell you that CX is a subset of UX. These people believe CX only embodies the experience paying customers have, while UX includes everyone, whether they made the purchase decision or not.

If senior leadership believes one of these differences, they’ll use that belief structure to dispense responsibilities throughout the organization’s CX and UX teams. However, none of these beliefs seem to determine what makes successful CX and UX teams.

We’ve looked closely at high-performance CX and UX teams in dozens of organizations. What we learned was they uniformly work towards an identical goal. They all want the organization to deliver the best experience for anyone who interacts with their organization’s products or services.

The difference between the CX and UX team is not their mission, but their origin. Because of that difference, they achieve the goal quite differently.

In a nutshell, CX has its roots in marketing analytics. They work with large sample sizes. They love quantitative models. They are at home with what customers say they like and need.

Meanwhile, UX has its roots in behavioural and cognitive science, along with ethnography. UX teams work well with small sample sizes. They love qualitative methods. They focus on how people behave with the product.

But there’s so much more to explore, as Jared Spool explains at UIE