Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX)

What is Customer Experience?

Customer experience (CX) has been steadily increasing in popularity over the past decade. Its popularity is largely due to the discipline’s programmatic approach to understanding customers more clearly. This increase in customer understanding can thus lead to an improvement in how companies prepare for and ensure more positive experiences. All of this leads to more engaged employees who, in turn, lead to more satisfied customers.

Executives, marketers and technologists alike have begun increasing their investments in CX because the return on investment is now too significant to ignore for those companies embracing CX, more seriously. So, what exactly is CX?  Well there are conventionally accepted mainstream definitions along with more technical and sophisticated explanations. 

The more conventional and mainstream definition of CX is: all the interactions customers experience with a brand over time. 

The more technical approach CX Pilots uses is: the set of highly subjective experiences that lie in a customer’s memory or are experienced in the moment, that both influence and are influenced by logical + emotional drives that, in turn, may lead to specific behaviors.

If you’re like many, you have questions about the jargon distinguishing all these X’s. CX equals customer experience or client experience. It is also called customer or client success in many companies and industries. But what then is UX? UX (user experience) refers more narrowly on the user of a single product or service. UX is concerned in many mostly with human-computer use cases like a website or an app on your iPhone—not always, but mostly.   

What’s the Difference Between UX and CX?

Unlike, UX (user experience), CX factors all the subjective experiences a customer may have whereas UX focuses on the more specific and contained experiences a customer may have with one isolated part of a product or service consumption event (e.g., using a website interface or using a television’s remote control. 

Customer Experience (CX) on the other hand, is the collection of all impressions that a customer has resulting from interacting with your company that can lead to future behavior (e.g., buy more products and/or services).

Note the difference there: customer experience is more encompassing while user experience is more limited, generally isolated to a specific product and its attributes.

In other words, UX and CX both seek to describe logical and emotional aspects of a customer’s experiences but CX incorporates all of UX, and much more.

How Are B2B and B2C CX Different? 

CX, as a discipline, has a much deeper history on the consumer or retail side of business—meaning marketers and salespeople have long been trying to figure out how to sell more volume to more people to increase revenue. Nowhere has this been more prevalent than in consumer or retail settings. Retail customers are more easily segmented into smaller and more predictable groups allowing companies to use CX to improve their understanding of buyer trends and behaviors. 

This is not the case on the business or B2B side. In B2B CX, companies selling products or services are generally selling more complex offerings to more complex buyers under more stringent buying conditions.  B2B CX, to be successful, often needs to consider that more than one person makes buying decisions under many possible conditions. Companies that do their homework to better understand how all these complex decision-making dynamics affect consideration and purchase, are doing CX. More specifically, they are doing B2B CX. 

Companies that strive to better understand the 110 customers on earth that will need to buy a $90,000 replacement part for an offshore oil rig that also requires $400,000 of labor to install, need to think about their customer’s experience a little differently. Many people are involved, the market is vastly constricted and more competitive and the cost of the supplier (company) or the customer making a bad decision is much higher—potentially catastrophic. 

Companies that do their homework to better understand how new, young couples think about dust and cleaning in an efficient way helps them sell more Swiffer Mop replacement pads. The act of collecting feedback from new homeowners so they can make it easier and more efficient, is doing B2C CX. The consequences of the company or their customer making a bad decision are negligible. 


No matter what type of CX you are doing, chances are, you are trying to make life better or simpler for a customer. Whether you are focusing on a specific product’s appeal to a broader number of customers (UX), working the kinks out of new loyalty program for a regional bank (B2C CX), or making it easier for SpaceX design and production teams to buy reusable ceramic parts for a recoverable ballistic capsule array, (B2B CX) you are focusing on the experience people have with an offering. It’s important work. Understanding the differences, helps everyone appreciate what goes into it.

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