Make it Easy: How to Improve Your Customer Effort Score


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Metrics, metrics, metrics. The word gets thrown around a lot. How do we establish and define them, let alone use them? And which metrics are actually useful and yield the best results for our businesses?

All hail the Customer Effort Score (CES)!

What is CES?

Customer Effort Score, established in the HBR article “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers” is a metric that allows companies to determine how to reduce the amount of effort customers have to put in to achieve their intended goal. Businesses measure CES by asking just one question: “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?”

The HBR study led to the development of CES because of these two conclusions: First, customer loyalty is built by reducing effort—defined as the work they must do to get their problem solved—not through over-the-top customer service. Second, focusing on reducing effort alone can lead to lower customer service costs and higher customer retention. By assigning ratings from 1 to 5, with 5 representing very high effort, CES measures the effects of how companies can create a more effortless customer experience.

More metrics that matter

You’ve probably heard of Net Promoter Scores (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT) and are thinking to yourself, how is CES any different? A CSAT score is a broad term used to describe many different types of customer service survey questions. Businesses can measure CSAT scores at any point because they gather more general information about customers satisfaction (HubSpot), whereas with CES, it’s most effective to measure immediately after a customer service touchpoint. NPS is contrary to the real-time feedback that CES and CSAT scores produce, and focuses more on overall satisfaction rather than individual interactions.

Why CES is important

CES distinguishes itself from other metrics because it focuses on specific interactions with a business and measures the ease of achieving specific goals. CES can help you improve each step of the customer journey, leading to more loyal customers and a better overall CX. However, businesses shouldn’t rely on CES to segment by type of customer or paint a full picture of a customer’s relationship with your business (HubSpot); it should mainly be utilized to zero in on specific customer interactions—whether it’s customer service related or pertains to the product or service.

From search and discovery to purchase and loyalty, each customer touchpoint is an opportunity for businesses to identify where they’re losing customers, or making them unhappy. One particularly important step in the customer journey is the buying process. When customers go to purchase something and face hurdles such as having to re-verify information, a confusing mobile site, or slow response times, it creates a headache for them. CES is most effective when looking at specific goals that customers are trying to achieve, and while buying seems like the most obvious place to look, there are many other areas where businesses can improve their CES.

How you can improve your Customer Effort Score

Analyze your customer touch points

There’s no shortage of ways to interact with customers — ads, in person conversations, messaging platforms, ratings and reviews—and this is creating information overload. Customers are no longer willing to spend time sifting through information or being inundated with meaningless messaging. Now more than ever, they are wary of the brands they choose and companies they do business with. Companies need to be clear, concise, and open up communication channels in order to make things easier for customers.

One way to do this is through text messaging as it provides a low barrier of entry to connect with your customers. Anyone with a cellphone (not even a smartphone) can use text to communicate with savvy businesses. Customers shouldn’t have to wait on hold or for an email response that may never come. Texting helps customers get answers quicker and services faster.

Assess your customer service processes

Customer service can make or break any business. Slow response times and avoidable errors will most assuredly turn a customer away. You can use CES to find specific points where you can speed up communication. As people look for stronger communication and faster connections, texting completes the omnichannel strategy so customers have options to connect, making it easier to do business with you.

Improve website usability

Your website is probably one of the first touchpoints that your customer has with you. Is it easy to find and understand information? Is help easily accessible? If your website has too many tabs or confusing buttons to click, then how visually appealing it is will not matter nearly as much. Customers care about convenience; they care about ease. Good UI/UX designers create something both beautiful and accessible. Improving website usability is critical if you want customers to come out raving about how easy it was to purchase something rather than how difficult it was to find what they were looking for.

Ease your feedback process

The feedback process is a tricky thing to nail, but once businesses adopt more easy-to-use feedback methods, they will reap the rewards. Easing the feedback process requires businesses to really meet the customer where they are and figure out how they want to be spoken to. In order to iterate and turn satisfied customers into loyal customers, businesses need to constantly be asking for feedback.

This can be done by using multiple channels. However, texting in particular makes the feedback process easier because it’s real-time and already a preferred method of communication. This means you’re likely to get more responses. In fact, Zingle customers have experienced a 400% increase in response rate with text message surveys compared to the industry average email survey response rate. They have also seen a completion rate for text message surveys around 89% compared to the 78% industry average.

Leverage customer data

New technologies are giving businesses the capabilities to truly leverage customer data and allow them to know a customer better than they know themselves. Using these insights to your advantage will allow you to understand your customers and their needs much better and allow you to stay one step ahead during the entire customer experience.

Today’s customer expects an experience that is fast and easy. CES is a great way to ensure that you are providing just that. Fail to do so and your customer will simply turn to the organization that is willing to put forth the effort to ensure their customers don’t have to.

Ford Blakely
Ford Blakely is the founder and CEO of Zingle. As a frustrated consumer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Ford sought to figure out a quicker way to order his latte in the morning. He did - and in 2009 Zingle was born as the first two-way, business-and-customer communication platform. Currently, thousands of hotels, food retailers and other businesses use the software platform to increase efficiency, revenue and customer loyalty by providing a quick and simple way to communicate with customers through text messaging - people's preferred method of communication today.


  1. Ford,
    A good read. I strongly believe companies can never stop looking at ways to reduce the customer effort. I also feel you should suggest customer journey mapping as a good tool for analyzing the touch points. Done properly, it works and the subsequent actions often reduce customer effort.


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