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Posted by Lee Hughes on 31 May 2016

We examine the key differences between UX and CX

As more and more organisations recognise the value of investing in user experience and customer experience, the blurred lines of what each term means and where they connect can get pretty confusing...

As a result we thought it would be helpful to take a look at each in more detail, examine their differences, and highlight a real world Airbnb website example of exactly how user experience and customer experience can work together in achieving customer satisfaction goals.

So, what exactly is User Experience (UX)? 

We would define UX as being a focus on developing a singular product that is easy and enjoyable to use.

It helps the user to complete tasks without becoming frustrated or annoyed and importantly ensures that they have a great experience when interacting with the product.

These products can range from a simple website to an app, as well as non-digital products.

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

The aim of CX is to ensure that a customer has an enjoyable and positive experience across all touch points when interacting with a brand.

This could be via a phone conversation, a face to face meeting, marketing collateral, a direct mail piece, and of course a variety of digital interactions including website visits, app use, opening an email, engaging with a social media channel, online chat etc. 

A major benefit to an orgnanisation of investing in delivering an excellent CX is that this ensures that its business goals are directly aligned with the wants and needs of the customer.

How do UX and CX relate?

UX is found within CX, and in fact good UX is a key component of the delivery of a successful CX.

UX enables the customer to:

  • Find information quickly and easily
  • Complete tasks with ease and without frustration
  • Interact with an application, website or non-digital touch point with ease
  • Have an enjoyable experience with the product

CX allows the customer to:

  • Have an enjoyable, professional, friendly and helpful interaction with a brand and its representatives
  • Feel positive about their experience with the brand and all the touch points
  • Feel that they can trust the brand
  • Build a connection with the brand

Real world example - Airbnb

Here I have used an example of booking a holiday via the Airbnb website to highlight how good UX and CX work together to produce outstanding customer experiences.

The Scenario

Imagine for a moment that you’re booking your summer holiday using the Airbnb website.  

You're in a good mood, this is an exciting time - you're probably already picturing the sunshine and on the countdown to clocking off work and relaxing on some sun soaked island, safe to say life is good...

The UX part

Your first impression of the Airbnb website is that it's very useful, allowing you to easily search for villas and apartments anywhere in the world, providing you with useful information regarding the accommodation, how close it is to the beach and airport etc. It also gives you the ability to read reviews from previous guests and provides direct contact with the owner, which enables you to make an informed decision quickly and easily, without any pain points.

Due to this hassle free and enjoyable experience, you’re more than likely to recommend Airbnb to friends and family. Why? Because it left you feeling great.

The CX part

Next, you arrive at your chosen destination and you're all set to unpack, get the beachwear and flip-flops on and hotfoot it to the beach, but alas things aren't going to plan - the owner is late in arriving with the villa keys and when they do turn up they are really quite rude to you because they are having a bad day.

You’re left feeling annoyed and unhappy with the customer experience you’ve received. Quite rightly so, this is your holiday and you’ve had to deal with a 'touch point' that has taken some of the shine away from your sunshine break. Due to this bad experience, you’re going to be far less likely to come back, leave a good review or recommend, in fact quite the opposite - you’re more likely to share your negative experience by leaving a bad review due to their unprofessional and unfriendly behaviour.

However, imagine the opposite. Imagine that the owner was friendly upon your arrival, that they went beyond expectations and picked you up from the airport and drove you to the destination at no extra charge. Imagine them going the ‘extra mile’ and filling up the fridge with basic provisions and throughout your stay ensuring that you were happy and had everything you needed.

Now that type of experience is much more likely to result in you giving the property a 5-star glowing review, encouraging you to recommend to friends and family, and logging into the app on your holiday to book your next visit in.


Whilst in some ways seeming quite similar, the main difference is that UX is actually a component within the CX which your organisation delivers - the UX element looks at the usability of your product. CX, on the other hand, looks at a much bigger picture and covers the full end-to-end spectrum of customer interactions and a huge variety of touch points. 

Delivering a simple and easy UX plays an important role in delighting customers and convincing them to become repeat customers. This then feeds into the overall CX delivered, and by differentiating your product or service by offering an awesome CX your business will gain competitive advantage and as a result increase sales and profits.

Therefore, when developing new products or services it’s essential to always keep in mind the overall experience which you deliver to prospective customers, and that the success (or not) of this experience will have a direct result on how well your business performs.  

Consideration absolutely needs to be given to both UX and CX and how good UX leads to a good CX - they don't work in isolation of each other. 

We'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject - please comment below or if you're interested in having a chat around improving the UX and CX of your organisation please do get in touch.


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