ARTICLE: Sarah Freitag

How CX and UX come together to meet users’ needs and inspire loyalty

User experience. Customer experience. They’re different disciplines. But done well and thoroughly integrated, they can create a wrap-around, all-inclusive way of engaging with your audience that renders your product competition-proof.

A harmonious integration of customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) is especially important in EdTech, where educational IT managers and instructors have become accustomed to not just strong products, but also to comprehensive, personalized service.

Differences & Overlaps Between CX and UX Teams

Let’s start by distinguishing the two components of what we’ll call the brand experience — the ways that people interact with your brand throughout the customer journey, from the point when someone begins researching EdTech tools and continues beyond purchase and implementation to ongoing guidance.

CX is the broader discipline; it includes all the brand’s touchpoints with the prospect or user. It begins well before a customer chooses your product and encompasses your website, sales presentations, presence at education conferences, and the like. CX is more service-oriented, about acquiring and keeping customers.

In EdTech, CX is not just a part of the sales process; it’s part of the aftercare. Leading brands in this space offer a high level of white-glove service: Their sales reps will actually set up the tool for users and make changes on request. If an instructor gets stuck, he’ll have his customer service rep on speed dial and ask the rep to do the task for him.

The brand’s visual expression, communication style, tone, and personality — all the traditional elements of branding are wrapped into the CX.

UX is focused on the user’s interaction with the product itself. It’s sales-agnostic; it is not concerned whether someone is a paying customer. Its role is to guide the user seamlessly through the product in order to solve a problem, based on a deep understanding of that person’s needs, processes, work environment, and goals.

How CX & UX Can Work Together

As your sales reps and customer service agents are out in the field listening to prospects, identifying customers’ needs and solving problems for users of your EdTech tool, they’re a great source of input for UX. CX and UX often work on separate teams, but the CX team is who users contact when they run into an issue with a product—making them a wealth of knowledge for UX designers and researchers who are looking to identify and fix usability pain points.

The challenge, though, is that a major part of their job is to please customers, which can (in some instances) put them in situations where they feel like they need to shoulder the burden of fixing what users say isn’t working. In those moments, well-meaning promises of new features may be made in order to maintain customer loyalty. For CX professionals, the UX team can offer a powerful asset – their ability to look beyond the users articulated problems to find underlying reasons driving their needs. Once these issues reveal themselves, the UX can will be free brainstorm, prototype and test new features knowing what gets released will truly address the needs of users.

CX and UX often work on separate teams, but the CX team is who users contact when they run into an issue with a product—making them a wealth of knowledge for UX designers and researchers who are looking to identify and fix usability pain points.

An analogy we can all identify with – the physician-patient relationship.

Let’s say you’re a runner and over the course of recent months of training for an upcoming 5K race, you’ve been experiencing growing pain in your knee that has finally sidelined you. You’re convinced that you’ll need knee surgery, so you make an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon in your area and ready yourself mentally for the inevitable. Upon arrival, the doc asks, “what seems to be troubling you?” You answer, “my knee’s shot and I need you to perform surgery so I can get back to logging miles.” If the doc accepts that and moves forward with the procedure, she’d be committing malpractice. She will look to understand the source of the pain and then formulate a treatment plan. Like the surgeon, the job of your UX team is to listen, assess, prescribe and evaluate the right solution.

And that’s the heart of UX research. Your CX team are skilled caretakers of your customers’ concerns who are in a position to provide valuable insights on early problems that may be forming. Your UX team should look to them for baseline information rather than marching orders for features and upgrades. Conversely, your CX team should look to your UX team to help them better care for their customers by delivering carefully vetted solutions that are informed by methodical user research with students, instructors, and administrators.

On the flip side of the coin, if UX is bad, CX hears about it. One of the best ways to reduce support time for your customers is through self-service. In order for users to be able to serve themselves, they need access to a product with great UX that is intuitive and that has clear onboarding cues and help links. In EdTech tools, the UX should be as easy as picking up the phone to call a CX rep.

While happy customers might tell 9 friends, unhappy customers on average tell 16. And following an unsatisfactory experience with one brand, 89% of consumers are likely to switch to a competitor.

Both CX & UX Have Bottom-Line Implications

You probably know from personal experience that a lousy interaction with a salesperson, a website, or a product will dissuade you from purchasing again from that company. Data bears out how important CX and UX are to customer loyalty and brand reputation.

Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute reports that 81% of customers are willing to pay for a better experience; that rises to 87% for internet-based services. Not only that, but a poor experience has proportionally worse implications. While happy customers might tell 9 friends, unhappy customers on average tell 16. And following an unsatisfactory experience with one brand, 89% of consumers are likely to switch to a competitor.

UX also plays a major role in customer satisfaction. The three top reasons why technology products fail are all tied to UX: They’re too complex, they don’t solve a real need for users and they don’t fully integrate into users’ lives. If an EdTech product is difficult and ineffective, users will get frustrated and find an alternative. And they don’t have to look too far.

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    Sarah Freitag

    As UX Research Lead at Openfield, Sarah draws on her background in market research, design and business to enable our clients to make solid decisions that increase user satisfaction, streamline process and reduce costs. Sarah is an avid reader and an adventurous explorer. Highlights from her favorite travels include Morocco, Peru, Italy, Denmark and France. She modestly describes herself as a “novice” baker, an understatement for someone who took on the daunting task of making her own wedding cake.

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