CX (Customer Experience) vs. UX (User Experience): What’s the Difference?

UX stands for user experience, while CX stands for customer experience. While these two terms are used synonymously, there are many differences between the two. Read on to find out what defines these two terms.

CX vs UX

You'd be forgiven to think that CX (Customer Experience) and UX (User Experience) mean the same thing. Both deal with the user/customer-facing end of a company, hence the reason why many use these terms synonymously.

UX has been in use since the late 90s and was coined by Don Norman. It was initially defined as the sum of a user's interactions with a company. CX is a relatively new term used to denote a customer's experience with a company as a whole. On the surface, they both are identical, but what's the difference between the two?

As important it is to understand their differences, it is also vital to understand how they fit into your company's customer interactions. Before we take a look at CX vs. UX, here's a quick description of what these terms mean.

What Is UX (User Experience)?

what is ux

User Experience deals with how people interact with a particular product and their experience with that product. Initially, UX was used to describe customer journeys with an organization. It has gradually evolved to define a user's engagement with a product.‌

UX is now commonly used in relation to digital products. Some products under a user experience include websites, mobile apps, software, and other digital resources. A UX designer typically focuses on statistics like success rate, abandonment rate, error rate, click rates, and so on. UI design, visual design, and usability analysis are some disciplines under the UX umbrella.

Good UX helps its users access the information they need efficiently, use the product with ease, and finish the intended tasks. On the other hand, a bad user experience on your website drives traffic away. Toptal reported that 88% of users are unlikely to visit a website again if they experienced poor UX the first time.

What Is CX (Customer Experience)?

What is CX

While UX deals with a user's engagement with a product, CX encompasses all the interactions the customer has with the company. Every interaction that a user can have with a company across all its touchpoints can qualify under customer experience.

Some of the CX metrics a customer experience designer deals with include customer service ratings, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, customer feedback, customer effort score, and their overall experience with the brand. Good CX helps your customers have an enjoyable interaction with your brand and representatives across all touchpoints and platforms. A positive interaction also boosts customer loyalty and the chance that they’ll recommend your brand to others.

According to a study by PwC, 54% of US customers say that the customer experience at most companies needs a lot of improvement. Good CX is therefore important if you're looking to attract and keep more customers.

What Is the Difference Between UX and CX?

difference between cx and ux

UX and CX may be similar, but in practice, they are different concepts altogether. The primary difference between the two is that while user experience specifically deals with how a user interacts with a product, customer experience concerns the customer's overall experience with the brand.

Customer experience designers deal with many touchpoints such as websites, mobile interactions, advertising, the sales process, customer service, and customer support. A UX designer deals with customer interactions too, however, they focus on a particular product. In this sense, UX is a subset of CX, meaning that CX covers all of UX and much more. 

A UX designer will rarely be concerned with a users’ journey with a brand, except in rare cases where a company employs the designer for multiple products.

Another difference between UX and CX is the focus of daily activities. A CX consultant will mainly focus on strategies to improve customer experience and satisfaction while enhancing the brand’s image. A UX designer will typically have similar goals, but they will use other tools like usability, UI, and visual design. As a result, user experience is now most commonly used to refer to digital products. In contrast, customer experience is commonly used in the service industry or service departments of a company.

Both CX and UX designers do plenty of customer research. However, CX designers often deal with large groups of customers and users, while UX designers typically focus on user personas or specific groups of people. Customer experience leans more towards the people making the purchases, while user experience is geared more towards the people using the product.

How Do UX and CX Overlap?

CX and UX similarities

Customer experience and user experience are more than just related—they’re almost inseparably intertwined. Good UX lays a good foundation for a good customer experience, and good CX complements an already working UX.‌

When a user has a great experience with a product, there’s a high chance they’ll have a positive impression of the company. If the customer experience is great, the user is more likely to go through and interact with other products or services offered by the company. This means that if one of the two is bad, the other suffers as well.

Striking a balance between the two is vital for your brand’s relationship with customer success. Both CX and UX are essential for a brand. Good UX enables users to navigate products and find all the information they need efficiently. The user interface may be very well designed, but users may quickly leave your product if it is not usable. Good CX is essential because it promotes better customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.‌

Key Takeaways on CX vs. UX

Customer experience and user experience are both integral parts of your customers' journey with your brand. UX follows a user's interactions with a product, service, or system, and CX follows a user's engagement with a company throughout their lifetime with the brand.

Your users' needs come first no matter the type of business you're doing. Good UX will help you make an excellent first impression, and good CX will keep your customers in business with you. Prioritize these two strategies for your business and watch your customer loyalty and satisfaction rate soar.

Ready to switch careers to UI/UX Design?

Springboard offers a comprehensive UI/UX design bootcamp. No design background required—all you need is an eye for good visual design and the ability to empathize with your user. In the course, you’ll work on substantial design projects and complete a real-world externship with an industry client. After nine months, you’ll graduate with a UI/UX design mindset and a portfolio to show for it.

Check out Springboard's UI/UX Design Career Track to see if you qualify.

Not sure if UI/UX design is the right career for you?

Springboard now offers an Introduction to Design course. Learn what designers do on the job by working through a project with 1-on-1 mentorship from an industry expert. Topics covered include design tools, research, sketching, designing in high fidelity, and wireframing.

Check out Springboard’s Introduction to Design Course—enrollments are open to all!

Download our guide to UX design fundamentals

This 50-page guide will take you through the foundations of user experience, including information architecture, user experience, and user interface.

Ready to learn more?

Browse our Career Tracks and find the perfect fit