30dps Blog

"Inbound Customer Experience" vs. "User Experience"

Venetian Mask Female

An inbound customer experience is the quality of interaction a customer or prospective customer has with your brand online. It includes the overall impression and the degree to which your branding and messaging engages your visitor and the value he/she received from the experience. All of this is significantly impacted by the degree to which the buyer persona is understood and catered to, the overall usability of the website, the quality and relevance of the content, and how well the website and landing pages have been optimized. The quality of interaction your customer experiences is affected by how well technology has been utilized to captivate interest, solve problems, make life easier, and differentiate you from the competition. But most importantly, it's about CUSTOMERS.

Arguably, much of our definition of Inbound Customer Experience (ICE) is the same as User Experience (UX), so why bother differentiating the two? We would argue that UX is about users, whereas ICE is about customers… and that’s a HUGE difference.

Over two decades ago, during my years at FedEx, one of my “users” (an internal “customer” from another department) very sternly explained to me that she was not a “user,” rather she was my “customer” and to HER there was no comparing the two. I’ve never forgotten her distinction, and that difference is at the core of why we believe in creating amazing inbound customer experiences, not just quality user experiences.

She explained in no uncertain terms that “customers” were real people with feelings, emotions, needs, allegiances, biases, and preferences… and “users” were nameless and lifeless. So while knowing how “users” interact is meaningful, knowing who your “customers” are and what they need, feel, like, and dislike is powerful stuff indeed. (Seek out the person behind the mask as it were.)

We contend that a website that embraces the difference between “users” and “customers” will certainly make life more enjoyable and valuable, and dramatically more rewarding for the website owner.

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