Alastair Smith

A lot of marketers get their CX mixed up with their UX. It’s an easy thing to do. Separating one discipline from another can seem confusing, but in reality it’s simple to define, and understanding the difference can have a massive impact on your business.

In a nutshell

Customer experience (CX) is generally strategic and should encompass your entire business, a single view of your customer and often cultural and organisational change. User experience (UX) is generally a tactical digital outcome, which improves one or more parts of your customers’ journey and experience.

See, it’s simple.  Or is it?  Why is it that organisations often get the two confused?


Digital change drives UX focus

The focus on UX has been easy to understand. The panic about the rise of digital has led to many organisations taking the “let’s build an app” approach of improving user experience. Unfortunately, the situation is a little more complex than that.

A recent white paper showed that an overwhelming majority of customers (88%) use two or more channels to interact with their bank and 46% use three or more channels in any year.

This shows that financial services institutions can’t hide from considering the entire customer experience with their organisation if they’re to meet customer expectations and deliver a consistent, and consistently excellent, service.

However, developing true CX across an organisation is a massive undertaking. It involves engagement from all parts of the business, not just marketing. As we all know, change is hard, however, the benefits and opportunities can be enormous.

So, if you’re a marketer who wants to make an impact, CX may be the nirvana, but it’s clear that there’s still a place for improving UX, but you need to understand the limitations.

What is User Experience?

UX is the customer/user’s experience with a specific digital touchpoint – usually a website, app or piece of software.

The goal of UX designers is to make sure that each user can reach their goal efficiently and enjoyably e.g.

  • Apply for a bank account
  • Find historical performance information
  • Search a website and find the information they need

Ensuring that users can complete these tasks incorporates the disciplines of usability, information architecture, navigation, comprehension, visual hierarchy, and more. How effectively each of these disciplines combine determines the effectiveness of the UX of a website or app.

But remember, ultimately, UX generally focuses on a single interaction.

For more detail, please can see our our article on UX.

What is Customer Experience?

CX has a greater scope: it’s the summation of the customer’s experiences with all channels of the brand. CX is an umbrella concept, which encompasses all of the channels, products and service delivery from an organisation, and how the user feels about them.

Typically, CX refers to how users perceive:

  • Customer service
  • Advertising
  • Brand reputation
  • Sales process
  • Fairness of pricing
  • Product delivery

The UX experience based on an interaction with a website therefore sits within CX:


Getting CX right will mean that a customer will achieve their objectives while having a consistent, professional and efficient interaction with the organisation, resulting in a positive feeling about that company.

It is, however, a hefty task and not for everyone, depending on their organisations’ maturity and strategic appetite.

Take a step back

The most effective CX programs are those where organisations have the appetite and capacity to take a strategic approach to understanding and meeting their customers’ most important needs.

This requires a number of factors to be in place:

  • Definition of your customers and their full purchase journey and lifecycle.
  • Ideally, a single view of your customer through data sources and analytics.
  • A defined strategy and goals that are focused on customer, rather than business.
  • Engagement from stakeholder across the business, with a share vision for change (including remuneration that includes customer satisfaction metrics, rather than just product outcomes).
  • The ability to enact true change across touchpoints, systems and culture.
  • The capability and tools to continue to measure and optimise across online and offline touchpoints.

Most financial services organisations and marketers struggle to achieve two of the above list, let alone all six, which is why most organisations struggle to achieve true CX.

It’s also why financial services marketers seek to make an impact through UX. A well-executed UX project can contribute to specific targets, like applications or opt-ins, and can improve micro customer satisfaction.

They’re easier for marketers to control and deploy, and can help lead the way in an organisation by demonstrating a fully customer centric approach to that solution.

However, unless you’re a digital-only start-up, the chances are to become a true customer centric organisation, deploying CX effectively, you’re going to need to separate your Xs.


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