What is the difference between “user experience” and “customer experience?” Are they the same thing, to be spoken of interchangeably, or is there a difference?

Broadly speaking, customer experience refers to the entire interaction a customer has with your company and brand, including interactions:

  • In-person (such as with your sales representatives)
  • In-store point-of sale devices (such as ATMs and kiosks)
  • Via Phone  (automated IVR systems as well as Call Center conversations)
  • On your Website  (for information or transactions)
  • Via Social media  (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Via Mobile apps
  • Via email (email newsletters, special offers, and correspondence)
  • Via regular mail (paper correspondence)

If it sounds like a lot, it is.  The ecosystem of customer experience is the sum total of everything you’re doing to reach out to your customer.

The user experience, on the other hand, is limited to those interactions that are automated or computer-based in way.  In the above list, that means any of the automated systems customers encounter (point-of-sale devices , Website, social media, mobile apps, and e-mail) will each have a separate user experience. And each user experience can be good, bad, or neutral for the customer.

Organizations should review their various user experience channels regularly in order to ensure they all reflect well on their overall customer experience.  Even one chink in the armor will pull down the perceived quality of the brand.  For example, if your Website is well-designed and your social media channels are well-maintained, but the IVR to your call center is annoying or poorly implemented, the customer will still be frustrated about her overall experience with your company.

And by the same token, if you want your brand to stand out above your competitors, you should strive to ensure your sales reps, customer service reps, marketing team and design/development team members all set the same tone with customer interactions. That means not neglecting any of the pieces of the whole. If everything works in tandem to service the customer needs, your customer will notice the difference, and will be more likely to return again and again to your sales and service channels, whether retail or online.

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