The Relationship Between User Experience and Branding :: UXmatters

User Experience Versus Customer Experience

Customer Experience focuses on brand loyalty and customers’ likelihood to recommend.—Carol Barnum

“This question could be about the overlaps and distinctions between User Experience and Customer Experience (CX),” answers Carol. “Customer Experience focuses on brand loyalty and customers’ likelihood to recommend. User Experience focuses on the immediacy of user interaction with your product. But the lines between them have blurred as the role of the UX researcher and the tools in our toolkit have expanded beyond the narrow focus of the user’s engagement with the user interface.

“When you do requirements gathering and ethnographic research, you are likely to be exploring more than the context in which people use your product or competitors’ products. You are bound to learn how people feel about your brand or your competitors’ brands. Once you engage with customers or prospective customers in this way, you’ll probably use your findings to create personas and engage in customer journey–mapping workshops.

“If you conduct usability testing with current or prospective users, you’ll likely learn what perceptions users have of the brand as they engage with the product. If you conduct focus groups, you’ll probe themes around your brand or your competitors’ brands.

“If you ask questions to gauge users’ experience and satisfaction with your product, you’ll probably obtain information that also reflects your users’ perceptions of the brand. In your choice of feedback questionnaires, do you include the Net Promoter Score, which asks, How likely are you to recommend this product to a colleague or friend? This is a popular Customer Experience or marketing questionnaire that UX researchers can also use when conducting customer-facing UX research.

“Who owns each of these aspects and tools of CX and UX research? Who contributes to an understanding of User Experience and the brand? We all do!

“So how can we all work together to support good user experiences and build brand loyalty? If you are engaging with stakeholders to understand their goals for your research, are you partnering with those on the customer side, as well as on the product side? These CX stakeholders often include representatives from customer service, marketing, training, sales, and other related areas. If you are siloed within a UX group that isn’t engaging with CX stakeholders, seek opportunities to meet, greet, and collaborate with them. We all want the same thing—great user experiences and strong loyalty to brand. Partnering with Customer Experience to accomplish this result makes every aspect of product development and customer experience better.”

The Measurability of User Experience

“The work we do in User Experience is measurable,” replies Richard. “It derives from our understanding of business goals. We provide design solutions that address our customers’ needs and wants.

As part of our overall measurement strategy, UX initiatives are like well-run science experiments. First, we observe users’ tasks to understand the current state. Then, we hypothesize an improved future state. Finally, we conduct experiments to achieve positive improvements. Using UX research methods, we test against benchmark data to demonstrate success. UX measurements revolve around the use and function of the digital products we work on—such as applications, Web sites, and mobile apps. We typically measure things such as success rates, clicks to complete, error rates, abandonment rates, and time on task—to name a few. User Experience initiates work within the overall business strategy and goals, as the business key performance indicators (KPIs) in Figure 1 illustrate.”

Figure 1—Relationship between business KPIs and UX measurements
The relationship between business KPIs and UX measurements

“When we think about an organization’s branding, things such as the company logo, colors, fonts, and imagery come to mind,” continues Richard. “Branding is part of the overall business strategy, so UX initiatives should always align with these branding guidelines.”

Consistency with the Brand Experience

“A product experience should always be consistent with the brand experience,” answers Andrew. “You must ensure that a brand’s product experiences share the same personality, voice, and tone. For example, it would be strange if the Disneyland site were formal and solemn when the park’s tagline is the ‘happiest place on earth.’ The Disney brand evokes fun and excitement, and that should carry through to all product experiences.

“Both product experiences and brand experiences continually evolve and must inform each other. In the late ’90s, Apple was known for its easy-to-use products, but nobody used the words innovative or modern to describe the company’s products at that time. Since then, the development of the innovative iPod, iPhone, iPad, AirPods, and more have helped redefine the Apple brand, while maintaining its reputation for simplicity and ease of use.”

UX Touchpoints

“When we think of a product or service’s user experience, much of our focus tends to be on product design and interactions, but the user experience actually involves many touchpoints,” says Gavin. “Let’s look at a mobile phone as an example. Before a new phone even arrives in your hands, you may have used a Web site to order it—whose creation involves UX design and research. When you receive the package in the mail, the out-of-the-box experience provides another touchpoint that involves UX design and research. The phone itself should have an engaging, usable, useful user experience. If you encounter any issues, you might call Support and encounter an interactive voice response (IVR) system’s user experience. When you speak to someone in the call center, the systems they use provide yet another user experience. The touchpoints extend from in-store employees and their point-of-sales systems to the paper or online bill you receive.

“Thus, the customer experience is only part of the user experience. Although the call-center representatives and store employees are not customers, they use technology to support the customers’s user experience. Together, all the UX touchpoints make up the brand experience. If you design all touchpoints using UX methods, the quality of the user experience ultimately impacts the brand experience. While you can measure brand impact in many different ways, the levers that affect the brand experience include the many user-experience touchpoints that a customer has with the product or service experience, as you can see in Figure 2.” 

Figure 2—The many touchpoints of a product user experience
The many touchpoints of a product user experience

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