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Customer Experience, User Experience & Digital Experience: Basics & useful terms

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In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some different terms related to experience in the digital landscape: the more established and specific Customer Experience and User Experience, as well as the newer and broader Digital Experience.

We’ll briefly explain each term, emphasizing the differences and connections between them, while reinforcing our points with examples as regularly as possible.
 
In the second part of the post, we’ll list and define some of the most frequently used terms related to these different aspects of experience, in order to help you facilitate conversations and collaborations involving them. 

Customer Experience

This is the experience of a (potential) customer in all stages of the customer journey, from their first interaction with a brand or product to actually having made the purchase - if they were satisfied enough with their experience, they may even turn into a loyal and/or returning customer. 

While customer experience refers both to digital and physical experiences, recent global developments have seen a major rise in the demand for digital customer experiences, with e-commerce solutions that are becoming more and more innovative. This post focuses mostly on digital CX, which is also more closely tied to UX.

  • Connection with UX: a customer buys a (digital) product, while a user uses the product. So, the CX of a product would be covered by the marketing around it, and the UX by the development and UX teams. The CX is focused on creating appeal for the product by showing how it solves particular pains, whereas the UX focuses on its usability, enabling the user to actually solve those pains. 
  • Connection with DX: any customer experience that occurs in the digital is by its nature a digital experience. Interestingly, we’re also seeing a blend of digital and physical CX, with examples such as digital displays and AR technology in retail.

-> In the digital word, CX is closely tied to UX.

User Experience

User experience is an incredibly broad field which has intrinsic ties to some of the other most important aspects of digital experiences, such as SEO and accessibility. In short, user experience is the experience of a user of your product or service (especially digital) who is using the said product or service to achieve a certain goal. 

As already mentioned in the CX section, the number one priority of UX is usability - enabling all potential users to easily make use of a product as a solution to a particular problem. This is why accessibility is so important for UX: any kind of user, no matter their disabilities, should be able to use products and services efficiently.

  • Connection with CX: products such as websites and digital applications may contain the ability to purchase other products and services. Here, CX = UX, because you use the features of the product to help you navigate through your customer journey to finally making the purchase. In the context of a single product, CX becomes UX once the product is purchased and now has to be used.
  • Connection with DX: just like with CX, any user experience taking place in the digital is a digital experience. Again, some of the latest technologies blend physical and digital user experience, with examples such as biometric apps and health tracking devices. 

-> Sometimes UX => CX (e.g. you use a website or application to make a purchase)

-> Sometimes CX => UX (e.g. you purchase a product or service in order to then use it)

Digital Experience

Digital experience is a broader term than customer or user experience. It basically refers to any kind of experience in the digital world, whether it’s CX, UX or even, say, the employee experience in a digital-native business. 

Paralleling the recent explosion of digital channels, new terms such as digital experience platform, or digital experience framework, have arisen to reflect the shift from thinking in terms of the web and content management to focusing instead on digital experience management

With the digital becoming a ubiquitous part of everyday life, there is a constant demand for digital experiences, wherever and whenever potential users and customers might be. This necessitates brands to be present and interact with their audiences on every channel they frequent if they want to tap into all of their potential markets.

  • Connection with CX & UX: any customer or user experience that takes place on the web or on a digital device is a digital experience. In light of the whole COVID-19 situation, the lines between CX and UX on the one hand and DX on the other have never been more blurred, as many people have now been relying on the digital for a majority of their experiences. But it is also broader: as their names suggest, CX refers to customers and UX to users, while DX can also include games, movies, music, etc. So, where CX & UX are more related to a digital product or service, digital experience focuses more on the experience part. Of course, UX often remains an essential part of DX - even something as straightforward as watching a YouTube clip requires a basic understanding of the platform’s functionality, while features like personalization also no doubt contribute to the user experience.

-> Since all digital experiences are more or less centered around satisfying certain needs, it can be said that every digital experience is to some extent a digital user experience.

Useful terms

To help you get the most value out of this post, and also not assuming that every single one of our readers is 100% familiar with all the common terms related to digital experience management, we’re including a short glossary of 12 useful terms that you’ll frequently encounter in CX, UX and DX in general.

  • Accessibility (UX / DX): digital accessibility basically means usability for everyone, no matter their physical or mental ability, or the device through which they’re accessing a service.
  • API (DX): an acronym for Application Programming Interface. An API defines the interactions between different software intermediaries, allowing for integrations between different technologies (e.g. a front-end and a back-end framework both relying on the same API).
  • Bounce (CX / UX): this is a term commonly used in data analytics. If a user or customer ‘bounces’, this means that they only viewed a single page on your website before exiting it. 
  • Churn (CX): also called ‘attrition’, churn happens when a (usually regular) customer stops doing business with a brand. The most typical example is when a customer cancels their subscription to a service.
  • CMS (UX / DX): an acronym for Content Management System. As the name suggests, a CMS is a system or framework for managing digital content and presenting said content to visitors. Some of the most popular ones are WordPress and Drupal.
  • CTA (CX / UX): an acronym for ‘Call to action’. This is a ubiquitous element of customer and user experience, and typically occurs in the form of links or buttons with an active, user- or customer-oriented copy which prompts them to perform the desired action.
  • Integration (CX / UX / DX): in the context of digital experiences, integration refers to different technologies being able to work smoothly together, since most digital experiences rely on more than just a single framework. For example, you may have a website built with Drupal that uses Magento for the e-commerce component.
  • IoT (UX / DX): an acronym for Internet of Things, a buzzword which is quickly gaining ground as we see more and more parts of our lives becoming digitally enabled. It basically refers to a network of interconnected objects able to exchange information through the internet (think smart cars, smart refrigerators, etc.)
  • Multichannel (DX): similar to omnichannel, multichannel means serving digital experiences on channels beyond just the web, by capitalizing on all the types of devices that today’s consumers use daily: mobile phones, tablets, and even things such as smart watches, digital displays or digital voice assistants.
  • Personalization (CX / UX / DX): this is one of the main trends in digital experience management. It means tailoring a digital experience to a specific individual as much as possible. This is enabled by technologies such as machine learning and realized through the capabilities offered by leading front-end frameworks.
  • Retention (CX / UX): especially in CX, retention comprises all the business activities that are focused around keeping existing customers. Retention is the opposite of churn or attrition, and there’s the constant pursuit of low churn rates and high retention rates.
  • ROI (CX / UX): an acronym for ‘Return on Investment’, which is a measure used to determine whether a particular task or activity is worth pursuing with regards to the expected business value it will bring.

Conclusion

We hope this post has armed you with a better understanding of the basics of customer and user experience, and how the newer digital experience trend is powering digital transformation on a global scale. 

The past few months have shown us that a digital-first mindset will be the crucial differentiator of success, and those who have digital experience top of mind will be the winners. 

If you’ve also by now realized how important top-notch digital experiences are going to be, but lack the development capabilities to deliver such digital solutions at scale, contact us at Agiledrop and we can supply you with exactly what your next digital experience endeavor needs to succeed. 

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