Customers Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX) inhabit the same business objectives, but operate in separate spaces. Could we see the disciplines collaborate or even converge to create more compelling and beautiful customer experiences? How do two distinct disciplines maintain their integrity within the same planning space?
What this article explores are potential collaborations from building a more open and integrated territory between CX and UX, so outcomes strengthen metrics in both territories.
According to the Forresters Report “Bridging the CX / UX Divide” (2015) 38% of companies surveyed had both a CX and UX planning function, yet only 13% were viewed as a unified culture. Whether those brands operating a converged CX / UX function are building best in category customer experiences is yet to be seen, however, change is coming. So much so, UX Magazine is predicting a future where Customer Experience is the future of ALL design, seeing CX and UX work more openly and collaboratively to create the best customer journeys.
CX and UX – cousins in the same room
Right now, the established narrative tends to focus on how each function differs. UX remains loyal to its roots in usability and its ownership of application design, whilst CX is keen to broaden its shoulders to impress with its scale of influence across the entire customer journey.
UXPIN, the US Design Dashboard – produced the currently accepted relationship between CX and UX.
Whilst the model neatly comments on the parent-child relationship between CX and UX, it only observes territory and if anything, reinforces the division between the disciplines.
If we appraise the distinctions, we can find the points of collaboration
Ross Unger (author UX Planning 2012) describes UX as “The creation and synchronisation of the elements that affect the users’ experience with a particular product, application or company, with the intent of influencing their perceptions and behaviour.” Essentially, UX is the product of UX strategy, where (digital) applications operate at an intuitive level. UX strategy, therefore, seeks neutrality and invisibility, to ensure the user is brought closer to intended functionality, not distracted by the action architecture to achieve it. As the Usability Guru Stephen Krug affirms “Don’t make them think!”
In contrast, CX seeks greater visibility, so it builds a positive emotional relationship with the brand. Whilst classic CX definitions point to every customer touchpoint (from advertising & search to product usage) playing a role in CX outcomes, CX is again the product of CX strategy; intentional customer journey planning to bring ‘delight’ to customer moments.
Both CX and UX share the same ambitions
Strategically, both disciplines travel along the path. Both seek to influence perceptions and behaviour. Both seek to build customer advocacy – great CX and UX deepens a good relationship. Both seek to build customer value – better experiences in both territories build frequency and spend. Both seek to build brand value – the cumulative outcome of successful CX and UX increases brand equity.
A core relationship?
When distilled down to their core truths, there’s a workable relationship at play. CX seeks to add delight to customer experiences, whilst UX simplifies the experiences to amplify that delight. Whilst in practice, it’s never that simple, but it does open up ‘transactional territory’ between the two and the basis of a planning relationship.
The CX / UX collaborative model for today
However the future of Customer Experience Design emerges, it’s worth exploring how CX and UX could work in collaboration today and use each of their merits to better the output across the entire customer experience. If simply to move the debate further, we’ve summarised the potential in a working CX:UX Collaborative Model, based on simple ambitions:
- Project core CX strategy to bring customer delight to UX
- Project UX strategy to create simple and intuitive CX
- Leverage skills across both to build more beautiful customer journeys overall
How could UX contribute to CX?
UX is a discipline of logic (more than just design). By harnessing skills from UX designers into CX planning, they can apply the rules of simplicity and intuition to improve customer journeys. They can find the blind spots, smooth over the touch-points and bring customers closer to their core needs. So for example, UX planning could design a much faster process for customers to share issues, across all channels, reducing the time spent to lodge the enquiry, bringing them to a resolution point much faster.
How could CX contribute to UX?
CX is a discipline rooted in emotion and customer delight. By harnessing the skills of the CX team within UX planning, user experience could build in more brand personality into information and action architecture. Whilst UX continues to achieve brilliant applications, it opens the potential to challenge competitors with more unique (potentially human) experiences.
Collaboration not convergence
Undoubtedly the CX:UX relationship is going to evolve and quickly. Whatever path we take to a Customer Experience Design era, if indeed this is to be the new working model, UX has plenty of value to leverage in building beautiful customer journeys, not just user experiences. And CX can bring new thinking to applications, bringing ‘delightful’ touches to information and action architecture.
The opportunity here is collaboration, not convergence. CX and UX strategies need to be ‘greenhoused’ to protect their integrity and specializations; they are unique disciplines. However, building planning infrastructure to foster the exchange of ideas and input could unlock even more beautiful customer journeys.
UXPin – Customer Experience vs User Experience – why the difference matters
DigitalGov – User Experience vs Customer Experience – What’s the difference?
Usabilla – UX vs CX: Which is more important?
Usertesting – Good UX isn’t enough; Why Good CX is important too.
UX Magazine – Customer Experience is the future of design
Forresters – Bridging the CX/UX Divide
A Project Guide to UX Design: For User Experience Designers in the Filed or in the Making (Voices that matter) 2012 – Ross Unger and Carolyn Chandler.