Customer Experience vs. User Experience, and How Customer Data Improves Both

Customer Experience vs. User Experience, and How Customer Data Improves Both

The Difference Between First-party, Second-party and Third-party Data

All marketers want to create exceptional customer experiences (CX) that foster long-term, profitable relationships. Good CX keeps customers coming back, increasing customer lifetime value (CLV), and a vital part of CX is user experience (UX). Still, there are significant differences between CX and UX, and it pays to understand them. But an even more pressing question is: How do you improve both CX and UX for your customers and prospects?

Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX) Defined

CX encompasses every interaction a customer has with a brand and includes how they perceive their interactions. Customer service, ad messaging, brand reputation, sales processes, and more fall under CX.

On the other hand, UX is part of CX, but UX focuses on the interactions a customer has with a product or service. Some key concepts for UX are: usability, interaction design, and architecture. The relationship between customer experience and user experience becomes painfully obvious when one half of the equation doesn’t deliver. If you’ve ever sworn off a manufacturer because even a few of its products have been difficult to use or haven’t really worked right, then you’ve already experienced this first hand. But what are some of the interactions and touchpoints that can make or break both?

How Does UX Influence CX—and Vice Versa?

To tease out the differences between these concepts, consider two examples of positive and negative CX and UX.

Positive UX and Negative CX

A buyer visits a site, quickly finds what she needs, and checkout is easy and fast. She waits for the product to arrive, and at this time UX and CX are both positive.

The package arrives, and the product is fine, except it’s the wrong color. She has to call customer service to get a replacement. Unfortunately, calling involves navigating confusing voicemail menus and long hold times. The process is so frustrating that the customer packs up the product and returns it rather than trudging through the negative CX. This shows how bad CX can taint any future buying decisions, regardless of stellar UX.

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Conversely, many studies show that companies can also build even stronger brand loyalty after a UX failure, by providing outstanding customer service. If you’ve ever experienced a company response where you quickly got a refund and got a replacement, because the company really wanted to keep your business, you know how powerful this is. You feel cared about, and you know the company has not only made you whole again, but has gone well beyond that to put you ahead. You feel loyalty to the company because they provided such great CX, which makes you almost overlook the UX failure. CX can do double duty here and possibly repair the relationship, with responsive customer support and follow-up. Improving UX by responding to customer feedback also boosts CX and encourages brand loyalty.

Negative UX and Positive CX

Alternatively, bad UX can definitely sour CX. If customers can’t find the product or information they need or their experience with the product or service is poor, they will most likely look elsewhere.

Measuring and Improving UX

Understanding current UX and how to make it better is an ongoing process. Here are some of the ways to measure UX and gain insights to guide future decision-making.

Collect Customer Data

Customer data on retention, product satisfaction, sales, and returns all tell a story about UX. Customer data about sales and returns, for example, yields insights about which products aren’t performing. Data on churn may reveal specific weaknesses in UX design that can be amended. Even data on bounce rates for your website can tell you how users are experiencing the design. Reviewing customer data from a UX perspective is key for ongoing improvements.

Collect Customer Feedback

Learning about customers by asking them for feedback is so obvious it can be overlooked. Ask customers to describe how easy it is for them to use a product or service and what works for them. The site design may be beautiful but if customers have to search for the “help” button or wait for graphics to load, they won’t be happy with the UX. The important part of customer feedback is to listen to what customers say rather than make assumptions about what is best for them.

Site Engagement Metrics

Site engagement metrics increase understanding about existing UX and can highlight areas for future improvement. Some of the major site engagement metrics are: heatmaps, bounce rate, page depth, and user journey maps.


These visual representations of user interaction with a site show popular areas (“hot”) and less popular areas (“cold”). Heatmaps indicate how a user moves through the site and where they experience roadblocks.

How to Use Heatmaps to Improve UX

  • Click maps can show where users may expect links that aren’t there and if CTAs are effective.
  • Scroll maps reveal what users see on landing pages and how far they scroll. If important information or crucial links are in the “cold” zone, that can negatively impact UX.
  • Move maps trace where a user moves the mouse cursor but does not click. Move maps give an idea about how consumers interact with a site’s content. If key areas aren’t getting much traction on a move map, digging into why and making adjustments will improve UX.

Bounce Rate and Page Depth

Bounce rate measures the number of visitors that leave without taking any action. Page depth—a related metric—is the number of pages per session a user views after the landing page.

How to Use Bounce Rate and Page Depth Data to Improve UX
Though a “good” or “bad” bounce rate depends on a lot of factors, bounce rate data indicates how well your CTAs are performing overall. Bounce rates can be a red flag for issues with content and technical difficulties. If the important CTAs aren’t front and center, the page takes too long to load, or your content isn’t relevant, users won’t stick around to dig for what they need. Reviewing bounce rate changes over time to determine areas of improvement can greatly enhance UX.

Page depth data shows which pages are keeping users active and guiding them further into the site. Using page depth as a guide for how content is organized can significantly improve UX.

Customer Journeys

Customer journey maps show how an individual can interact with all the different touchpoints and channels over time for a brand and provide an overview of how each touchpoint affects UX.

How to Use Customer Journey Maps to Improve UX
Customer journey maps fuel holistic conversations about CX from every aspect of the business. Collaborative decision-making focused on CX can lead to CX improvements at every level, and user maps are great tools to achieve this. This rich data source has the opportunity to improve UX and inform how to measure it.

Survios Customer Spotlight: Player Data FTW

Survios creates groundbreaking experiences in virtual reality (VR) gaming. Traditional models for measuring and improving gaming experience, such as internal brainstorming, sales data, and customer commentary, couldn’t keep up with complex VR play. Analysis that relied strongly on averages or made assumptions about what hardware was used, didn’t get at the heart of the user experience.

Survios hired Treasure Data Partner Exostatic to manage its data and answer questions about play patterns, content preferences, and control schemes. The solution leverages Treasure Data’s Customer Data Platform (CDP) to collect and analyze the data. The result was ten times more data available for behavioral insights, which led to better onboarding, customer retention, and clearer understanding of play style. Thanks in part to the informed decisions they made, Survios came in first on the VR global top-seller list at the time. Other game companies, such as Mobilityware—which specializes in Solitaire and other phone games—have undergone similar analysis.

In the end, CX vs. UX isn’t a useful dichotomy. UX is a vital part of CX, and they both have major impacts on the other. While CX is a larger concept that includes UX, both can be measured and improved individually—with the right data and data-driven insights. The best decisions about improving UX are based on customer data, customer feedback, site engagement metrics—and the understanding that UX and CX are entwined.

Treasure Data has a wealth of information on improving CX, UX, and customer loyalty, including our report on Post-Covid Loyalty Strategies. Check out the Treasure Data blog for even more.

Lisa Stapleton
Lisa Stapleton
Lisa Stapleton is a former editorial director at IDG and former senior editor for InfoWorld and InformationWeek. She has written extensively about enterprise IT, business and environmental topics, and now serves as a senior marketing content manager for Treasure Data. She holds an MBA from Santa Clara, an Applied Math undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, and an MA in journalism from Mizzou. She also enjoys being a Toastmaster.
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