customer effort score best practices

The Customer Effort Score is one of the most popular single-question customer metrics, alongside the traditional Customer Satisfaction measure and the NPS. Experts suggest adopting a multi-dimensional approach to predicting customer behavior. As part of such an approach, good customer effort scores correlate with increased levels of customer repurchase and, therefore, retention. As a result, it’s worth considering adding the CES to your arsenal of customer metrics. In this article, we’ll dig a bit deeper into customer effort score calculation and analysis and discuss implications for your business.

What is Customer Effort?

Before we go any further, it is important to understand what customer effort is. In very simple terms, customer effort refers to how hard a customer has to try to get an issue resolved. But, why does customer effort matter?

In 2010, Harvard Business Review, published an article titled Stop trying to delight your customers. Whether or not you agree with its premise, the article sprung the discussion around gaining loyalty simply by solving customer problems and presented some staggering statistical data – 56% of customers report having to re-explain an issue, 57% report having to switch from the web to the phone, 62% report having to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue.

The numbers show that more than one in two customers have to expend significant effort to get an issue resolved. This is bad news because according to the same research, 48% of customers who had a negative customer service experience told 10 or more others. This is where customer effort comes into play. The outcome of customers having to exert high effort affects the overall customer experience and negatively impacts business performance.

What is the Customer Effort Score?

The customer effort score is a metric that quantifies the ease of the interaction between the customer and your company. CES surveys are most commonly deployed

  • After a customer touchpoint that has led to product purchase or subscription
  • Immediately after a customer service interaction
  • To track the overall customer experience with your product or brand

CES calculation aims to measure exerted customer effort and is considered one of the easiest and most cost-efficient customer experience metrics.

How to measure your Customer Effort Score

When it comes to measuring the CES, there are different methods utilized across the business sphere. In the following paragraphs, we present the most common ones.

To measure your CES ask a variation of one of the following questions:

  • “How much effort did you have to put forth to handle your issue?”
  • “How easy was it to get your issue resolved today?”
  • “How easy did we make it for you to handle your issue today?”

And choose a scale on which to receive a rating:

On a scale of 1 to 5

  • 1 = Very high effort
  • 2 = high effort
  • 3 = Neutral
  • 4 = Low effort
  • 5 = Very low effort

On a scale of 1 to 7

  • 1 = Extremely difficult
  • 2 = Very difficult
  • 3 = Fairly difficult
  • 4 = Neither
  • 5 = Fairly easy
  • 6 = Very easy
  • 7 = Extremely easy

Text-based scale

  • Difficult
  • Neither
  • Easy

The simplicity of the text-based method aims at increasing customer engagement with the survey and producing higher response rates.

How to calculate your Customer Effort Score

Using the numeric – scale:

The CES is calculated by dividing the sum of all individual customer effort scores by the number of customers who provided a response. The higher your CES, the better.

Using the text-based scale:

In this case, the CES is measured by subtracting the percentage of customers who replied easily from the percentage of customers who replied difficultly. The resulting customer effort score is between -100 and 100 and the higher your scores, the better.

Customer Effort Score Analysis

Customer effort score analysis provides insights into the ease of a given experience between your company and its customers. In practice, establishing CES as a metric to measure and analyze effort is beneficial for the following reasons:

Creating effective processes

Customers want transactions to be as easy as possible. Customer effort score analysis cannot only pinpoint where improvements are needed but also track outcomes and establish benchmarks to assess the impact of your actions.

Propelling customer loyalty

The strongest advantage of the CES is its predictive power in regard to customer loyalty. In particular, the predictive power of CES refers to its correlation with future purchase behavior and referral likelihood.

Assuring customer success

The Customer effort score can, also, offer actionable insights in terms of customer success and product development. Nowadays, customers make decisions based on personal standards. It is no longer enough to simply offer a product. You have to set a course of action that renders your customers successful when using your product. CES analysis can dig deep into customer feedback and help you uncover user experience issues or other potential customer experience bottlenecks.

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