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UX and CX: how they work together

UX and CX: how they work together

UX and CX: two exciting new strands of your business practice, or gobbledegook?

If UX and CX just look like the world’s least useful Scrabble tiles right now, don’t panic. This is the third in our Customer Experience blog series. Let’s get you caught up.

First, check out What is Customer Experience? your questions answered to find out what it is, and why it matters. Then take a look at User Experience vs Customer Experience: what’s the difference?

Up to speed? Great.

Now let’s look at how UX and CX work together in practice.

A 360° experience

Once again, let’s go back to our imaginary conference organiser.

By now, we’ve spent some time thinking about organising a conference from the delegate point of view. Their overall Customer Experience is formed over a long period of time, from when they first begin researching conferences to long after the event itself.

A group discussion

Meanwhile, their User Experience has involved multiple interactions with design as part of that experience. Some of those UX touchpoints are in the organiser’s control, like registering via a conference app, or finding an accessible lift easily on arrival. Some will be beyond the organiser’s scope, like poor phone design which means the delegate’s battery runs out before arrival, leaving them unable to view Google Maps or call an Uber.

The challenge for anyone organising a conference, then, is to marshal all those UX touchpoints into a positive CX.

Anticipation and Customer Experience

Great CX comes from empathy: understanding your customer. What they need. How they feel.

In the marketing terms, all customers have ‘pain points‘: individual challenges that are specific to them. A pain point is anything that feels like a problem they can’t overcome by themselves, or using their current support systems.

ux pain points

For a conference organiser, it might be ‘I don’t have enough time to book a caterer’, or ‘I can’t scale up my event without blowing my budget.’

For a delegate, it could be ‘This event is too expensive for its likely value to me,’ or ‘I hate driving to conferences.’

When you’re providing a service, you want to identify those pain points – so you can meet your customer at the exact right place and time to say ‘I can fix that for you!’ For an organiser, that might be choosing a venue that arranges catering for you. For a delegate, it might be an early bird ticket offer that suits their wallet, or a venue that’s easily accessed by train.

Where do UX and CX come in?

Identifying your delegate’s pain points means you can anticipate when and where they’re going to need the most help.

At design (UX) level, it means creating User Experiences that recognise their worries and concerns, and provide reassurance, support, and solutions.

food icons

Are you organising a conference in the UK that will be attended by a large number of Chinese delegates? Make all your online content easily translatable, before they’ve decided to attend – otherwise they might not make that decision at all. Use icons in your conference signage, including at mealtimes. Recognise that Western social networks and Weibo won’t talk to one another, so if you’re relying heavily on social media as a communications and networking tool, you need to rethink that strategy.

At a universal level, it means continuing to acknowledge these worries and concerns as they evolve over time, and continuing to offer similarly evolving, personally relevant reassurance, support, and solutions.

Is CX just for when UX goes wrong?

Not at all. UX is an integral part of a wider Customer Experience, and they work hand in hand.

However, there are times when CX acts as a form of firefighting.

Let’s imagine your delegate has very specific dietary needs.

They’ve ordered a gluten-free sandwich for the working lunch, and it’s important to them that they can eat safely. It’s important to you, too, so you’ve made sure catering have received the request.

However, when the sandwiches arrive, there’s one large platter. The label lists the sandwiches on the tray, including the GF option, but not in any order. It’s not possible to tell by looking which is which. This is poor UX: a label that should identify information clearly, but doesn’t.

The situation needs to be saved by good CX: a staff member who notices the problem immediately, apologises to the delegate, and ensures they get their lunch.


Here, CX is rescuing the situation.

But to make for a really positive Customer Experience in this example, UX can still make all the difference.

What if, at the next meal, the delegate sees the label has been amended to mark their food clearly? The UX has changed. The design has been improved. And that design change leaves zero doubt in the delegate’s mind that they’re eating food that’s safe for them.

Perhaps a staff member might check in with them, too, to make sure they’re happy and have everything they need. They might even thank the delegate for prompting the opportunity to improve their service, or apologise again for the mistake. Good customer service will help. But it’s by making the UX better that the CX improves.

Consistency of design, consistency of experience

That’s an example of a single UX touchpoint. Let’s look at how multiple User Experiences can work together to create great CX.

Until your delegate is actually physically present at your conference, you have to work hard to gain their trust. They need to believe you can deliver what you’re promising. They’re paying to come to your event. They’re travelling to it; investing valuable time; hoping this event might be a career boost.

They need UX that feels trustworthy, recognisable, professional, secure – and completely consistent.

Design features like a logo or brand name are a simple, effective tool to reassure a user. Once you’ve started using them, they can keep bringing that reassurance over and over: from your initial registration to email contact months later; from registration app to website; from handing over bank card details to the sign on a breakout room door that signals they’ve found the right place.

Each of these UX touchpoints functions differently. But if they share a consistent look and feel, they work together to enhance the overall Customer Experience.

group high five

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