What is Customer Effort Score?


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Source: Wizu

Customer Effort Score is a metric that customer service teams often use to understand and evaluate how easy customers thought it was to get a resolution to their recent contact. This could be anything from solving an issue with customer support, signing up for a trial or making a purchase etc.

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a vitally important metric used to measure customer service satisfaction with one single question. The main principle behind this is that organizations can create loyal customers by reducing customer effort. There are two main questions used to measure CES.

1. How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?
2. Do you agree or disagree with the following? The organization made it easy for me to handle my issue.

Version 1 was the original question designed in 2010 with a rating scale of 1 (very small effort) to 5 (very big effort). This inverted scale caused confusion for some though. (1 is good and 5 is bad).

Version 2 was published in 2013 and was seen as filling the gap in seeking better interpretation consistency, universal applicability, and cross-industry benchmarking capabilities. For this new version customers were asked to express their level of agreement/ disagreement with this statement on an enhanced seven-degree scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).

How Customer Effort Score Is Calculated

Using one of the questions mentioned above, the customer selects from a scale of options giving you an overall effort rating. A high average rating indicates you are making things easy for your customer. A very low number means that customers are having to put too much effort in to interact with your company. Follow up questions can also be used to gain a deeper insight around the overall rating.

Why Is Customer Effort Score Important?

The easier you can make life for your customers the more they will enjoy doing business with you so offering a great customer service is a big part of this. Offering fantastic customer service can help build customer loyalty. This loyalty can then encourage behaviours like repurchasing, promoting your products or services to others or spending more with you.

Many companies fall in the trap of trying to go the extra mile and delight customers believing this will increase customer loyalty. While clearly this will have a positive impact, research actually suggests that customer loyalty is actually most impacted by how easy it is to business with a company. The amount of effort a customer has to put in to get an issue resolved is one of the key areas that impacts this loyalty so customer service teams should be doing everything they can to minimise this.

By measuring customer effort score you are able to better understand the amount of effort customers were experiencing in their service interactions. It also enables you to work towards decreasing the effort to create more loyal customers.

Research from Gartner suggests that reducing your Customer Effort Score can actually increase repurchase rates and lower service costs. Sarah Dibble, executive advisor at Gartner, stated “Our research finds that effort is the strongest driver to customer loyalty.” 96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction become disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience. There can also be other knock on effects from improving your customer effort score including increasing employee retention and improving positive word of mouth.

CES surveys are actionable and specific, meaning they can quickly show which areas need improvements to help you streamline the customer experience. Customer Effort Score results have also been found to be a strong predictor of future purchase behaviour.

What Should You Use Customer Effort Score For?

Customer Effort Scores should be used by teams to optimise experiences for loyalty. By closely monitoring your feedback you can identify customers who are not happy and react to issues quickly. By reaching out to customers who experience high levels of effort, you could proactively help resolve then issue and increase the chance of them using your business again.

You could also track CES against individual agent performance, helping you identify where additional training or support might be required. You should also look beyond just your average CES rating and look at the distribution of ratings. You might have a good average overall but if that number is made up of extremes at both ends there could be a step in your process that is causing an extremely poor experience for a segment of your customers.

Customer Effort Score surveys are often sent after a customers interaction with customer service. By sending our a CES survey after a customer service touch point you can quickly find out how efficient your support team is and help identify what changes need to be made to improve. They can also be sent out after an interaction that led to a purchase. This can help you streamline the buying experience and make changes that will make other people more likely to buy from you.

Martin Powton
I have over 13 years' experience in digital marketing and am interested in all areas of marketing, customer experience and employee wellbeing.


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