Customer Experience (CX) Design User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition

What is Customer Experience (CX) Design?

Customer experience (CX) refers to a customer’s experience with a company or brand, at all touchpoints. A touchpoint is any way by which a customer can interact with a brand, such as when purchasing or using a product or through seeing commercials featuring it. CX design focuses on creating an optimal experience for customers at all such touchpoints.

CX designers often use a customer journey map to gain a comprehensive idea of a customer’s experience with the brand. The customer journey map tells the story of different customers’ touchpoints with a brand—as seen from the customers’ points of view. For each customer segment, the customer journey map shows a timeline detailing the customer’s interaction with the brand at various touchpoints, often also describing emotions, motivations, and context. A customer journey map can help identify gaps in the customer experience. As such, it is a good tool for placing customers’ experiences and needs at the center of an organization.

CX design and user experience (UX) design are sometimes used interchangeably, because both are concerned with the overall experience of using a product or service. UX design, however, tends to be more specifically focused on individual products or services, even though it is also concerned with the process of purchasing, using, and even maintaining a product. CX design tends to adopt a broader view than UX, and has a slightly more commercial focus. Consequently, CX design concentrates harder on areas such as advertisement campaigns, customer service, and consistency, while the concerns of UX design span various product lines. Regarding the design of interactive products, a solid appreciation for how the cultivated image of an organization such as Apple translates to the usability—and popularity—of its products will prove helpful in keeping a brand design firmly focused on the targeted users.

Literature on Customer Experience (CX) Design

Here’s the entire UX literature on Customer Experience (CX) Design by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Featured article

User Experience and Customer Experience what’s the Difference?

User Experience and Customer Experience what’s the Difference?

At first glance the two terms appear to be identical don’t they? Our users are our customers and thus they’re the same thing. Except, of course, they’re not. So what’s the difference?

What is User Experience (UX)?

Author/Copyright holder: A-dit-ya. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0

The user experience is product (or service) specific. It is the experience that a user (or customer) has when they interact with that product. We can measure the results of the user experience to some extent too. We can look at satisfaction reports, the level of customer care enquiries following an interaction, the time it takes to get something done with our product, etc.

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

Author/Copyright holder: Walter Lim. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0

Customer experience is a larger concept. It is the experience that a user (or customer) has whenever they interact with our company or brand. Again we can measure some of this in satisfaction reports, in recommendation rates (would you tell a friend about us?), etc.

In essence user experience is a subset of customer experience. If you added up the sum of all knowledge on each individual user experience with your products and services; you would (theoretically) be able to explain your customer experience. Sadly, that’s not quite how it works and it’s why we need to remain conscious of both when we design products and services.

Why Do We Need to Consider CX when We’re Working With UX?

Author/Copyright holder: AltimeterGroup . Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0

Let’s say you are the UX designer on a major online retail store. Your job is to build a website which can be easily found on the internet, which customers enjoy spending time on and more importantly still – that they enjoy spending money with.

So far, so simple, right? You go out and do your user research. You use that to inform your design process and because your team are as least as brilliant as you are; they deliver exactly what you expect.

On the first day your website receives thousands of hits and every customer who lands on that site buys something! You are better than Amazon! Then three weeks later… your company goes out of business. But… the UX was perfect right?

It was but the CX sucked. You sold thousands of products on Day One but they neglected to mention that the warehouse wasn’t full of these products; initial expectations were to sell a little and scale up operations. This wouldn’t have been a total disaster but no-one trained the customer care agents to expect this – they’ve been receiving angry phone calls without end. So they all quit and went to work for somewhere less stressful. Your angry clients have all gone out and claimed refunds on their credit cards too…

User experience must always be seen in the bigger context of customer experience or it’s entirely possible that our work will be wasted even when that work is brilliant.

Header Image: Author/Copyright holder: 10ch. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0

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Learn more about Customer Experience (CX) Design

Take a deep dive into Customer Experience (CX) Design with our course User Research — Methods and Best Practices.

User experience design requires you to understand your users. If you don't know what your users want, you can only deliver what they want by accident. User research is how we come to understand what our users want—it's the largest part of user experience design. This course will give you insights into all the major UX research techniques and how to put them into practice on your projects.

User research is often the first step of a UX design process, because you cannot begin designing a product or service without first understanding what the users want. By gaining skills, and learning about the best practices in user research, you will be able to get first-hand knowledge of your users in order to design the optimal product—one that sells better than your competitors’.

Through this course, you will be introduced to the various aspects of user research, getting exposed to qualitative and quantitative user research methods. On top of that, you will also learn how to analyze the results of your research and confidently present your findings to your clients and stakeholders. User researchers play an instrumental and valuable role in any organization and, as such, receive a healthy remuneration, from an average of $81,000 to as high as more than $120,0001.

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