31 July 2016

Can ‘user experience’ experts become ‘customer experience’ experts?

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For those of us who are puzzled about what exactly the difference is between UX and CX, Toby Bottorf, principal at continuum, situates the difference as one of scale:

“The difference is one of scale. You’re not designing a thing. You’re trying to design what happens as a result of many things you directly designed, which is very different from UX. UX is bound technically by a clear and limited use case: It always involves someone interacting with a device.

Service experiences, however, are broad and ephemeral. They happen in time, and might involve the design of spaces as well as spontaneous interactions between people. UX work is often focused on optimizing something that has already been defined, not necessarily generating something new.

The biggest change for me personally in making this transition has been in the approach to quality. The definition of a great service depends on whether it is an open or closed system. Most digital systems are closed. Software should work the same every time. For software, improving quality means fewer deviations from how things should be.

But for open-service systems, standardization can set the bar for quality at only a mediocre level. A standard for consistency defines the floor, the lowest level of acceptable service. To deliver great service, people need to be themselves, and represent their organization with good judgment and real agency. That will inevitably be delivered with a lot of variability.

Designing for unanticipated-use cases, then, is the unique challenge of CX work.”

Besides that the author’s definition of UX is quite narrow, we must also that to us at Experientia, this sounds very much like a definition of service design, be it applied to a corporate context, and further narrowed down to customers only. What about work for governments and social innovation design? What about non-customers (knowing them can make the experience better for customers as well and can open up organizations to new customers)? In short, we are not yet convinced that CX is broad enough as a term.

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