CXM Guide

Customer Effort Score

Learn all there is to know about customer effort score (CES) and how and why brands leverage it to improve customer experience and retention.

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What is customer effort score?

Customer effort score (CES) is a customer satisfaction metric that indicates the amount of effort customers usually expend during a customer service interaction. According to Gartner, 96% of consumers who had high-effort experiences with a brand stopped being loyal. Thus, measuring and keeping track of customer effort scores on a regular basis can help bring to light previously overlooked customer pain point(s) associated with a particular touchpoint and help reduce churn.

How does customer effort score work?

A customer effort score (CES) survey is generally deployed at the end of a customer interaction, such as a support call or a purchase, and requires the customer to rate how easy it was for them to resolve their queries or do business with the brand on a scale of 1-10. Since a CES survey is used to gauge customer satisfaction at the end of a specific touchpoint in their journey, the sooner it is completed, the more accurate the customer’s response will be. In addition, appending open-ended questions to the survey will ensure actionable insights that can lead to effective action for improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Types of customer effort score surveys

A CES survey can be framed in the following ways:

1-10 Scale

The 1-10 Scale is the most straightforward CES survey method of all. The customer is asked a question such as “How easy was it to solve your problem?” which is accompanied by a 1-10 rating scale. A rating above 7 would mean the customer found the solution to their problem with ease. Conversely, if the question is framed in this manner, “How much effort did it take to solve your problem?” a score between 1 and 3 would be considered ideal.

Likert Scale

The Likert scale can either be a 5- or a 7-point rating scale. A statement such as, “The company made it easy for me to solve my problem” is presented to the customer. This is followed by a multiple-choice question, “Do you agree?” The customer can select an option from a list that ranges from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. A 5-point scale, as the name suggests, presents five options to the customer, and a 7-point scale, seven.

Emoji Scale

A CES survey that employs an emoji scale method may ask the customer, “How easy was the checkout process?”, presented then with three emojis – happy face, neutral face, and sad face. The happy face emoji represents minimum effort while the sad face represents maximum effort. Since this method can be very intuitive from a customer’s point of view, the emoji scale CES survey method is widely employed by businesses across industries.

Why measure customer effort score?

The level of effort customers put into solving their problem(s) while interacting with a brand has a direct correlation with customer retention and loyalty. A customer effort score can help pinpoint the potential problem areas that need to be addressed in order to provide a seamless customer experience. But CES surveys need to be deployed on a regular basis, e.g., every quarter, and the changes to the score tracked constantly for any necessary course correction. This reduces overheads in the long term, and in a way ensures the longevity of the business by reducing brand detractors.

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When to use customer effort score

If you witness your customers leaving their journey before or right after completing their intended action, e.g., purchase of your product, a CES survey can help you figure out the root cause of the drop.

A CES survey is best deployed after any of these three touchpoints:

After a purchase is made: This helps fix any anomalies during the checkout process that’s either resulting in an unusually high number of unsuccessful transactions or cart abandonments.

After a customer support interaction: This sheds light on how organized and efficient your customer support team is in resolving customer tickets, and allows you to revisit best practices and address shortcomings, if any.

After the delivery of a product or service: Online shopping is the new normal and deliveries are a fundamental part of the overall customer experience. Asking a customer to complete a CES survey soon after their product is delivered will help improve your last-mile delivery.

How to calculate customer effort score

Calculating the customer effort score is done by tallying up all the individual scores and dividing them by the total number of responses. But it comes with a caveat — it needs to be constantly updated as and when survey responses trickle in. In the case of the Likert Scale, each answer is labeled with a corresponding number and then the average is calculated. A survey with the emoji scale can be a little tricky: instead of calculating the average, the percentage of both happy and sad faces are calculated and compared to determine the customer effort score.

What is a good customer effort score?

A good customer effort score is very subjective. Since a CES survey can take any shape or form, there’s no tell-all number that’s equivalent to a good score. Generally speaking, having a score above 7 implies there are no friction points in the customer journey while a score of 3 and below means customers are getting stalled in their journey, indicating a need to identify efforts to improve those specific touchpoints. A good way to maintain a healthy customer effort score is to run surveys periodically and monitor your scores consistently.

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