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CX vs UX vs Service Design – Difference Explained 

Elena Mitsiou
•  14.02.2024
CX vs UX vs Service Design… Can you spot the differences? Navigating the ever-changing design landscape is no easy task, and all the different terminologies floating around are certainly not helping either…

Terms like Customer Experience, User Experience, and Service Designs are often used interchangeably leading to confusion. This is why we have created this article packed with everything that you need to know about the distinct characteristics of each of those terms.

Knowing the nuances of the terms User Experience, Customer Experience, and Service Design can help you massively in navigating the intricacies of designing digital products. Each of those design principles is quintessential for the creation of functional products that can meet and exceed user expectations.

However, all three bear similarities and distinct characteristics. Throwing light on those nuances can help UX professionals better understand their importance and how they coexist in the design ecosystem.

What is User Experience (UX)?

User Experience or UX is a term that refers to the overall experience that a user of a digital product has while using that product. In particular, user experience revolves around the interaction of the user with a system and expresses the degree to which this interaction is pleasurable and seamless.

A product or service that has been built based on UX design principles and has the user at the core of any design decisions strives to create a meaningful and seamless experience ensuring that users’ needs are always met. Getting to this state encompasses understanding human behavior and incorporating user feedback at every step of the user journey.

What is Service Design?

Service Design revolves around looking at the entire service experience and finding ways to improve this experience while streamlining the operations behind it. It is worth noting at this stage that service design goes beyond the interaction of the user with a system or a product and arches over the user’s end-to-end journey while using a service.

Service design is all about analyzing the processes and the systems involved in a service and finding ways to optimize them, ensuring a consistent user experience end-to-end. Service design is a holistic approach that strives to create innovative and streamlined processes that promise a stress-free and seamless user experience.

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

Customer Experience is all about optimizing the touchpoints that the customer has with a product while discovering, buying and using it. Customer experience looks at the customer journey from awareness to the post-sale experience and strives to optimize every touchpoint throughout this experience.

Crafting a stellar customer experience involves understanding and analyzing consumer insights as well as market trends and aligning the messaging and offers on the various channels to serve these. A successful customer experience strategy can help organizations build trust and loyalty having customers coming back for more!

CX vs UX vs Service Design

cx vs ux vs service design

Now that we have defined each of those approaches, let’s try to pinpoint the distinct characteristics and differences that they present.

1) CX vs UX

Although customer experience (CX) and user experience are two closely related terms, they have one main differentiator.

The main difference between those two approaches is that customer experience looks at optimizing the end-to-end journey that a customer has with a brand, arching over all the different interactions coming from various channels, while UX laser focuses on the user interaction with a service or a product.

💡Pro Tip

Learn more about the difference between customer and user experience research in this detailed comparison: CX vs. UX research.

2) Service Design vs UX

Service design and UX are two terms that although connected should not be confused. Service design adopts a comprehensive approach looking at the entire service experience including operations and processes, overarching different systems.

On the other hand, UX is a subset of service design focusing on the interaction of the user with a particular system, and looking at optimizing the user experience solely there! In an ideal world, UX complements service design every step of the way.

3) Service Design vs CX

Service design and CX are also connected, however, those two holistic approaches have different focuses. As discussed earlier, service design looks at optimizing the processes and systems that underline the user journey.

On the other hand, customer experience focuses on the overall customer journey and how the different touchpoints within this journey could be optimized. Hence, service design is a component of CX.

4) CX vs UX vs Service Design

Customer Experience (CX)

User Experience (UX)

Service Design

Focus

Revolves around the entire customer journey, encompassing all the different touchpoints with the brand.

Laser focuses on the user's interaction with a particular system or product.

Looks holistically at the end-to-end service experience, including processes and different systems

Aim

Aims to boost overall customer satisfaction, creating brand loyalty and trust.

Aims to create a pleasurable and seamless user experience within a specific product.

Aims to craft a seamless and cohesive service experience.

Components

Includes elements like customer service, brand image, and marketing communications.

Involves user interface design, information architecture, usability testing, and user research.

Encompasses customer journey mapping, process optimization, employee training, and design of physical and digital touchpoints.

Key Activities

- Marketing & Brand Strategy
- Customer Experience Mapping
- User Flows

CX vs UX vs Service Design Benefits

Customer Experience, User Experience, and Service Design all offer unique advantages, however, they are all pivotal for the overall success of the organization.

Let’s see the importance of each approach, its distinct advantages, and which professionals can benefit from adopting them:

Customer Experience (CX):

Investing in CX can have a multitude of benefits for an organization. The quintessential importance of CX is that it strengthens long-term relationships with customers building a loyal customer base that trusts the brand and will always return for more. Among the multitude of benefits that CX can have for a business is the organic growth of the business through positive word of mouth and increased customer retention.

A successful CX strategy can also act as a sustainable competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive market flooded with digital products and digital solutions. While CX is beneficial for the whole organization, professionals in the marketing and sales departments can most harness its power as it can have a direct impact on the overall brand image and consequently on sales.

By conducting customer experience research teams can point out areas of CX that need improvement and fine-tune those for better experience. Online CX research tools offer tons of functionalities like customer surveys, interviews, and journey mapping, all designed to help you better understand how customers perceive and use your product.

User Experience (UX):

A well-crafted UX strategy is pivotal for the overall positive user experience within the context of a particular product. Among other benefits, a successful UX strategy can lead to greater user satisfaction boosting the adoption of a product. UX strategies can have a positive impact on the usability of a product leading to better conversion rates.

Again, good UX benefits the entire business, however, mostly UX professionals, designers, and developers can benefit from a robust UX strategy in their effort to create products that are in line with user expectations. To optimize the UX of the products they conduct UX research, incorporating methods like usability tests, interviews, focus groups, card sorting and tree testing.

To conduct all UX research in one place we recommend using a robust UX research tool like UXtweak. It offers all the functionalities you need to empathize with your users, understand their needs and pain points, as well as specific aspects of their interaction with your product.

UXtweak features

UXtweak features.

Conduct UX Research with UXtweak!

The only UX research tool you need to visualize your customers’ frustration and better understand their issues

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Service Design:

Lastly, Service Design is pivotal for the creation of a seamless service ecosystem. A well-crafted service design strategy can help the business look at processes holistically and streamline those, improving in this way the different touchpoints with the user.

Service design can have a host of advantages for the whole business as a successfully implemented service design strategy can lead to increased operational efficiency with seamless processes that delight the customer. Service design is particularly beneficial for businesses in the healthcare and fintech industries where services are complicated, and ensuring their efficiency is of major importance.

CX vs UX vs Service Design Use Cases

cx vs ux vs service design

Fully grasping the nuances of those terms can be challenging. Here are some example use cases to help you further understand the nuances of those terms.

1. The E-commerce Platform Scenario and Customer Experience:

Let’s explore the role of customer experience in an e-commerce platform. The customer experience in this scenario arches over the initial website navigation, the cart, checkout, and payment touchpoints as well as any follow-up, post-purchase emails, or updates for similar products that the customer might be interested in.

From this example, it becomes evident that CX encompasses all those touchpoints and customer interactions transcending processes and channels. CX is all about crafting positive interactions with the customers every step of the way with personalized content, leading to an overall positive brand perception.

2. The E-commerce Platform Scenario and User Experience:

Using the same scenario of the e-commerce platform, let’s now focus on the role of UX. In this case study, UX laser focuses on the website and its usability, and in particular – the checkout process.

The user might find the payment and checkout process frustrating, lengthy, or clunky so the role of UX optimization is to smooth out those interactions and create a pleasurable and seamless payment process.

UX is all about enhancing user satisfaction and reducing user frustration with a system. In this case – the website and the checkout process.

3. The E-commerce Platform Scenario and Service Design:

Now let’s explore the role of service design within the same scenario. The leadership team of this e-commerce platform wants to improve some of the systems that underline the operations of the platform.

They decided to focus on adding more payment methods for the customers at the final checkout, including Paypal and ApplePay to streamline the payment process, as well as enhance its security. Through meticulous service design, the team anticipates not only a smoother transaction process but also the potential for increased sales volume.

💡Pro Tip

Foster collaboration between CX, UX, and Service Design teams. While each discipline has its focus, overlap and collaboration can lead to more holistic and effective solutions.

Encourage regular meetings and knowledge-sharing sessions to leverage the power of each discipline.

What are the next steps?

All three design approaches with their unique characteristics can bring different advantages to the business. CX can help a brand build trust and loyalty whereas UX can lead to greater user adoption and retention. Finally, service design can promise a cohesive experience through efficient and streamlined processes that delight the customers and keep them coming back for more.

To make sure all three aspects are on point and provide the best experiences, you need to research your users and their needs as well as continuously collect their feedback. And for this, you’ll need a good research tool.

UXtweak is here to help you optimize the UX of your product, conduct user research, send out customer surveys and so much more! Register for your free account and give a try to our all-in-one UX research tool!

Conduct UX Research with UXtweak!

The only UX research tool you need to visualize your customers’ frustration and better understand their issues

Register for free

FAQ: CX vs. UX vs. Service Design

What is the difference between UX CX and service design?

User Experience (UX) focuses on the interaction between a user and a product, ensuring it is seamless and intuitive. Customer Experience (CX) encompasses all interactions a customer has with a company across multiple touchpoints, aiming to create positive perceptions and satisfaction. Service design is broader, involving the holistic design and optimization of services to meet customer needs and improve their experiences.

Does CX include UX?

CX describes all interactions a customer has with a company across multiple touchpoints, including the product itself, therefore encompasses UX as one of its disciplines.

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