HOT TOPIC: Usability vs. User Experience vs. Customer Experience

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Customer Experience becomes more popular in many countries, on the other hand User Experience is dead and a hype at the same time. And Usability? Who really knows the difference between those human centred design wordings?

Because all the human centered topics become more focused in industry I see blog entries and questions. What’s the difference? Statements like:

  • CX is only a new name for cool web stuff
  • CX is all about Call Center Design, nothing else
  • UX is only digital
  • UX is everything and nothing
  • Usability is only for Websites
  • Usability is really technical

The most important thing ist hat we understand the same with the same wording, so in my optinion, one global certification is a must for every UX and CX Designer to guarantee a minimum knowledge. To speak the same language. It’s horrible to define it everytime in every chat.

Usability, User Experience are defined in a global ISO Standard.


So Let’s define User Experience & Usability first.

Usability (ISO 9241-110) is all about the interaction with a specific product. It’s about the use of a product. The make it efficient, effective and with satisfaction of the user.

If you think you are a UX Designer if you design and optimize Apps, Websites or Software, you are WRONG. You are a Usability Engineer.

Let’s talk about User Experience (ISO 9241-210)

If you optimize and create the whole customer journey around one product, including the Usability of a product, then you are a UX Designer or UX Engineer. Do you use Design tools and methodologies? Do you design all processes around a product? So it’s more than Usability.


And at least customer experience. In addition to user experience, customer experience also looks to all internal company processes to guarantee a great experience to the customer. When employees adopt a customer-oriented mindset and present information in the right way, as well as endorse the philosophy of customer experience, they also manage to service the customer in the best possible way.

Customer Experience Management deals with all touchpoints (Usability) and processes (UX) and create one story, one strategy and WOW moments through the whole company.

In order for employees to be able to create experiences, every employee needs to adhere to a certain set of rules and also be aware of his freedom. This will empower him to take the right actions during customer contact, in new situations, or when being confronted with complaints. In addition, those employees without direct customer contact represent a large target group of Customer Experience, as well. Through their contacts with friends and relatives, they are the first carrier of a company’s philosophy and values. Word-of-mouth marketing from such reliable sources thence lies among the fundamentals of a functioning company.

A service employee with direct contact to the end customer has to act according to clearly defined rules. Nevertheless, it is indispensable for this employee to have specific freedoms

Designing and implementing service processes for all of the potential situations that may arise with the aim of boosting customer loyalty is just one of the many areas of Customer Experience Management.

Products (Usability), processes and services (User Experience) and all involved touch points are customer experience areas that need to be designed efficiently and effectively to achieve customer satisfaction. The crucial touch points (also known as ‘moments of truth’) have to trigger experiences. For this reason it is also called the customer experience. It starts with the right corporate communications (brand experience) and also includes peripheral areas like the user manual of a screwdriver.

The art of matching the management of these touch points, processes and experiences with the corporate branding and additional measures and controlling is thus called Customer Experience Management.


Coming from organizational structure and a holistic point of view, usability constitutes the smallest area and customer experience makes up for the most comprehensive topic (see left-hand chart).

On the operational side, usability is the most complex and largest topic, as all company interfaces have been designed and optimized according to the criteria of efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. Customer Experience, on the other hand, means managing all usability and user experience measures within the company (see right-hand chart).


In summary, the areas of the individual topics can be defined as follows:


focuses on

  • Objectivity
  • Instrumental Quality
  • User Tasks
  • Optimized work process design for the product
  • Reduction of Stress
  • Removal of Barriers

User Experience

focuses on

  • Improvement of a product’s subjective experience (joy, fun,attractiveness…)
  • Perceived / subjective quality (consequences)
  • Developments / trends research
  • Challenge and Novelty
  • The whole product journey
  • Optimized work process design for products, services, online, as well as offline


Customer Experience

focuses on

  • Holistic strategic for all User Experience Journeys
  • Management of all User Experience Measurements
  • Coordination between products, services and branding
  • User Experience in Marketing
  • Alignment of internal processes
  • Controlling of all Experience measures
  • Human Resource Branding


Brand Experience

focuses on

  • The ongoing recognition of a brand
  • It don’t have to touch the customer, it hast o touch as many „people“ as possible. (people means also NO User and NO Customer)
  • A person needs 8 – 17 contact points with specific company touch points to start thinking about buying a product.



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