What’s the difference between customer experience and user experience?

The customer, the user – isn’t that the same person? Physically they are the same person, but humans aren’t made up of just one attribute. Our brains function in two ways, often at the same time. The left side of our brain handles language, analysis and figures. It likes things rational and in sequence. The right side of our brains handle creativity, imagination, relationships, and emotions. It’s the side of the brain that helps us form strong emotional attachments to people, animals and even things.

Customer experience is the result of left brain functioning. It could be called the Function Experience. It deals with how the customer navigates your product. The metrics and data analysis of the experience – how many clicks per page - is important to the data analysts.

User experience is the result of right brain functioning and if we were renaming it, we could call it the Emotional Experience - the emotional response the customer has while navigating your product is important. It turns potential customers into profitable, brand-loyal followers. Great websites and products meet both right and left brain needs of the customer.

But does it really matter?

If ‘user experience’ deals with how a customer responds to and feels after using your website then the fact that 87% of customers who have a negative experience will never go back to that organisation becomes an important point of reference. 87% is a big percentage. Here’s another one: 83% of brand marketers agree that the best way to grow your brand’s strength, and your business, is through your customers’ having a good experience with your brand. If the customer’s initial or in fact only point of contact is your website, it’s easy to see how vital it is that their customers’ user experience is a great one.

Statistics Resource

Beauty is only skin deep, or is it?

With all the free website creation programmes available online almost anyone can create a website, and a good-looking one at that. But good designers don’t rely on making things look pretty. Any designer worth their salt will tell you that good design has a good reason-for-existence backing it up.

Aren’t we splitting hairs here?

It may seem as if we are but consider this; Filmmakers know who their audience is and they ‘design’ the film to meet that audience’s expectations and needs. The Bond franchise appeals to a wide spectrum of cinema goers, and even though the actor playing Bond may change and the level of drama or humour may vary accordingly, the franchise itself remains constant. Audiences know what to expect. The filmmakers have a very particular kind of audience expectation and experience in mind when they first start scripting and storyboarding the film. They could have a very ‘good-looking’ film, but if it doesn’t deliver what Bond audiences are expecting, they will have failed. The audience experience is paramount – it’s what sells tickets for the next instalment.

And that’s how you want your customers to react to your website – always coming back for more. It must not only meet all the design requirements of your brand, but it must meet your customers’ ‘user experience enjoyment quotient’ as well. If possible, it should give them more than they’re expecting. Instead of having to resort to the search function, your customers should be thinking, “This product is awesome!”

How are customer feedback and user experience related?

Let’s look at it this way. You find customers are asking the same question, or the same kinds of questions, over and over again. Your staff spends hours answering these questions, while you growl in frustration at the supposed idiots they have to deal with and the waste of time and money!

Take for example an APO or FPO. In America, APO stands for Army Post Office. This might be in the USA itself or it might be anywhere in the world. If your company is responsible for shipping goods to your customer’s clients and they don’t know what APO or FPO (Fleet Post Office) stands for, your customers won’t understand why it takes so long for the product to reach their clients or for them to get paid. The user experience won’t be a good one.

The end result may be a lot of yelling and shouting at members of your staff and potentially a lost customer. You can guarantee the angry customer will tell others about their experience. Which means not only do you lose that customer, but potentially anyone who hears their story. And that’s why your customer’s user experience is important to your company. Bad user experience damages the bottom line.

On the other hand, if on the website and hardcopy billing form there’s a simple write out of the acronym in the address panel, i.e. APO (Army Post Office), everything changes.

Customer feedback, even in the form of shouting and yelling, is an opportunity to improve the user experience of your website and your company. Customers want to feel cared for, happy, satisfied, served and valued.

Make them feel like that and then they will become your best friend – a brand loyal, money spending customer.

So how do you do this?

Ask yourself, why is your customer visiting your site in the first place. It’s not rocket science I can hear you mutter. For example, you are struggling with managing the financials that come with running a business, so clearly they need an accountant. Except that you’re wrong. You don’t need an accountant. You just want to make all the pain go away. You are completely frustrated with balance sheets that don’t add up, the tax office breathing down your neck and your cash-flow draining away.  FreeAgent’s & Xero’s website’s main function is to tell you everything is going to be all right. Just reading that makes a potential customer feel better.

Take a look at your website or product and see if it would make a potential customer feel cared for, happy, satisfied, served and valued.

Written by David Fastuca - Co-Founder & Chief Design Officer of Locomote


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