Sometimes when I am having this conversation with people, I feel like I am stuck in some modern day version of the West Side Story. There are two gangs, lined up opposite each other with enough white tshirts, shiny black shoes and slicked back hair to make anyone take cover.

On one side of the alley, the hipster UX designers are wearing their ethically sourced flannel shirts, fueled by their $5 coffee from a local artisan shop and sporting their fresh ink. Opposite them, a group of Harvardesque preps, riplete with Ralph Lauren polo shirts, khaki pants and fueled by their morning cardio routine with their trainer Biff at the gym.


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They are about to square off against one another in the final battle for intergalactic dominance in the war on ‘pleasing the customer’. Somewhere in the background, a voice can be heard saying, “There Can Be Only One” in true Highlander movie form. They are poised. They are ready to pummel each other until one comes out on top as reigning supreme, but then…………

I throw out a white flag with only the words “EXPERIENCE DESIGNER” on the front and question marks on the back. As it makes its way through the air, both sides catch a quick glimpse of this mysterious flag. The flag comes to rest on the ground and the words Experience Designer are splayed out in black and white for all to see.

There is silence for a moment, then each group moves a bit closer to the intriguing flag staring back at them from the ground. They look at each other. They look at the flag. They talk amongst their respective groups. Then they look back at the flag. Finally, it happens. They speak to each other.



Ok, obviously, that’s what it looks like when I dream out loud, but for the love of whatever you hold holy, I wish a thousand times over that this scene was real. Here’s the quick and dirty answer to this question. Q: Which one is more important, customer or user experience? A: They are related. They are two hands of the same body. They must work together to be the most effective. It’s not either or, it’s both! It’s Experience Design.

So, let’s take a quick looksie at what each is. Customer Experience is the overall ‘brand’ feeling that customers have about your brand over the lifecycle of the the time that they are your customer or when they become your former customer.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that a customer’s customer experience is over if they decide to jump ship and not do business with you. Trust me, that is a highly valuable target for your business, as they will actively discourage people from choosing your brand if given a soapbox to preach from. Don’t abandon this group.

User Experience is how people feel and interact with your actual assets. In other words how easy or difficult is it to use your website, service, products, mobile app, etc? User experience is far more about whether something is easy or pleasant to interact with or use, than about whether it is increasing revenue or not.

If you have read my blog more than once, then you know that I love to deal in examples, so here goes just two to move us in the right direction.


Pin The Tail On The Experience:

-Website loads slowly and the shoes you are trying to find are very difficult to locate: Poor User Experience

-You ask a friend what they thought of their meal at the new local diner and your friend tells you it’s awful: Result of a Poor Customer Experience

Are those simple examples? Yes. Are they meant to be an exhaustive account of how to delineate between CX and UX? Of course not. These two fields are both growing and moving towards the center as companies become more ‘omnichannel’. In other words, as companies recognize the need for improved UX and CX experiences, they will both shift their mindset to more of an overall Experience Design mentality.

From the customer’s perspective, the experience should be clean, pleasant and enjoyable whether they are walking through the store, receiving a product, using your website or mobile app or checking out the social media feed of their favorite brands. It should be seamless, one channel, one voice, one experience. There will always be functional separation between these fields, but their end goals are the same; keep the customer happy and grow revenue.

Yes, the CX designers will continue to focus on factors like Net Promoter Scores (how likely you are to recommend a company to a friend), increasing revenue and overall brand loyalty, while UX Designers will continue to use small focus groups, testing and focus on improving usabilty for their products and services. The point is that as these two disciplines march forward, they will see a growing need to hold hands instead of take the lead from one another.



As we live in an age where families often don’t live close to one another (sending presents), online shopping is more the norm than the exception and technology continues to invade every portion of our life, Experience Design will take the lead.

Experience Designers will be people who understand the business and marketing side of Customer Experience Design, while also having a solid understanding of the Design, Tech and Psychology side of User Experience Design. In other words, they will understand that both exist to serve two groups of people: the end user and the buyer. Those two people may not be the same person, but you have to please both in order to achieve a solid overall experience.

To really bring this one home, I am going to steal a story right from the pages of my current life. I have an eight year old son. He, like every other child on this spinning rock is obsessed with a game called Fortnite. If you haven’t had the pleasure, brace yourself, it’s coming.

It’s basically a cross platform game (xbox, mobile, laptop, playstation, etc) that has seduced the hearts and minds of every child that I know.



The company behind this electronic bank account drainer is Epic Games. Every 45 or so days, Epic Games releases a new ‘Battle Pass’, which is front loaded with a bunch of things that my son just, “can’t live without”. Two days ago, my son decided to use his allowance (Good boy for doing your chores) to purchase the latest Battle Pass. It’s basically $10. He hands me the money. I take out my bank card to complete what I believe will be a 2 minute purchase. Boy was I wrong!

I add the Vbucks (Fortnite Money) to the store and try to checkout, but then it tells me that I have to log on to an email address that I only created for this account to verify the purchase. This is because I had set up parental controls, so that he couldn’t just buy whatever he wanted. Is this annoying? Of course, but after all, I am the one who set up the controls, so I try to remember the password and then I log into the account.

The email takes me to a Microsoft page, where it asks me to approve the purchase, which I do. Then I use the money to add the Vbucks to my cart in that store and complete the checkout. I log back into my son’s Epic Games account. Guess what? No Vbucks. No Battle Pass. Now this two minute ordeal is eating into dinner time. I spend the next 45 minutes trying to figure out how to get the money from the Microsoft account loaded into his Epic Games account so that he can buy the Battle Pass.

Nothing. Nada. It could not be done. I researched online how to fix this. There were droves of others, complaining about the exact same experience that I had. There was no response from Epic Games. There were no solutions, just upset, frustrated parents and players who could not achieve their task, purchasing the Battle Pass.

As I had now spent more than two hours on this, I gave up, sent an email to both Microsoft and Epic Games about the situation and went back to Fortnite to see if I could make the purchase directly again. This time, for no reason, it allowed me to complete the purchase with no issues. Score, my son is now off my back, he logs in with his friend and they start playing Fortnite with the new Battle Pass.



That was two days ago. I have now spent roughly 4 hours (purely on principle) to resolve this issue. I have had countless emails back and forth with both Microsoft and Epic Games, both pointing their fingers at the other company, both unwilling or unable to help me to free the money that is locked up in the Microsoft account from when I tried to purchase it the first time.

Nope, this wasn’t a pity party for myself. I told you all of that to show you that the end user and the actual user may have completely different experiences, both of which need to be tested, monitored and improved. My son LOVES Epic Games. He thinks they hung the moon, because all he knows is that he gave me $10 and then he had the Battle Pass.

Conversely, I am in total disbelief that two companies of this size would conduct themselves this way. I am in shock that neither is willing to help. I am concerned by the number of complaints online that are just like mine. For me, their customer experience gets 24 thumbs down, but for my son, their user experience is amazing.

What’s the take away. Well, in this instance, it’s to know who your true customers are, and in the case of Fortnite, it’s the parents. My son handed me a $10 bill, which is great. However, he doesn’t have a bank account or a credit card to complete the purchase, I do. These two companies would be more likely to get me to switch from my Mac to a PC, than to ever give them another dollar, because their customer experience leaves everything to be desired.



A great user experience can open the door to earn the chance to have an amazing customer experience. A wonderful customer experience can correct a poor user experience. They are one in the same. They are connected. As business owners, you are designing for the overall experience, hence the term Experience Design.

That’s it everyone. I hope this helps you to appreciate the similarities and the differences of both CX and UX and more importantly to really embrace the overall concept of Experience Design. It’s the future of this field, I promise.

See you in the next one.


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I write simple, small business tips about creating a unique customer experience that helps your customers to choose you over your competitors.

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