For every product or service you offer, there are countless competitors on the market. Every interaction with your customers is important. How do you track it, though? There is a concept that can guide business leaders on how they interact with customers that is straightforward and easy to implement: the Customer Effort Score (CES).
The customer effort score aims to break down how easy it is for a customer to do business with your company. It might cover the initial purchase, checkout path, support interactions, and more.
But why does this matter? Imagine purchasing a product or wanting a service. It’s not always the grand gestures that make an impression, but often the ease and joy of the experience. Did you find what you were looking for without hassle? Were your concerns addressed without being passed from one customer service to another? Was the website without errors on checkout? These seemingly minor details make a significant impact on the overall effort a customer feels they’ve expended, and that’s precisely what the customer effort score captures.
As we navigate further into the “fun” world of CES, we’ll look at its significance in shaping customer loyalty and why businesses of all sizes turn to it as a guide for enhancing their customer effort strategies through surveys and CES software.
The customer effort score is a direct measure that seeks to understand the effort a customer puts forth to achieve a desired outcome with a company. Whether it’s resolving a product issue, buying something, or seeking answers to questions, the customer effort score gets to the heart of the experience.
It asks a straightforward question: “On a scale of ‘very easy’ to ‘very difficult,’ how easy was it to interact with X company?” Ultimately, it’s where businesses have to “sweat the details.”
This scale, while seemingly simple, brings a wealth of insights. It strips away the complexities and focuses on the core of the interaction that customers experience. The belief underpinning customer effort score methodology is that customers move toward seamless and hassle-free experiences because they have countless options in most industries.
Customers’ patience is limited, an effortless interaction can be the difference between a loyal customer and a lost customer. By looking at the effort on a simple scale, businesses get a clear lens into their operational efficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas that require addressing.
The customer effort score: why does this seemingly simple number hold such power for customer experience? To understand this, let’s take a step back and consider the customer’s journey. Each interaction, be it a purchase, a service request, or a simple question, is a step in a larger process.
Now, imagine two situations. In the first, a customer struggles to find answers to support questions on your website, faces multiple roadblocks to connecting with someone, and leaves feeling exhausted. In the second, the same customer finds what they’re looking for quickly and feels satisfied.
Which customers are more likely to return, post a positive review, or share a word-of-mouth experience? The answer is easy. The less effort a customer has to exert, the more positive their overall experience, leading to increased loyalty and repeat purchases
Positive customer experiences, marked by low effort, have a ripple effect. Satisfied customers are not just loyal; they become brand ambassadors online and in person. They’re likelier to recommend the company to friends, family, and coworkers, amplifying word of mouth.
This organic promotion is invaluable, often carrying more weight than any advertisement. A positive CES score is your best advertising strategy. Loyal customers also contribute to increased customer lifetime value. They’re more likely to explore other products or services from your company, purchase add-ons, etc.
Customer Effort Score was developed in 2010 by a group known as the Corporate Executive Board, now known as Gartner. Its research showed that “effort” is a key driver of customer loyalty. The research found that “96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal than just 9% with a low-effort experience. Therefore, the customer effort score was born.
But why does “effort” hold such significance? At its core, the idea is rooted in human nature. Whether it’s a product, a service, or an interaction, if it requires minimal effort on our part, it resonates more positively and happens with ease. This experience translates to:
- Repeat business
- Positive word of mouth
Think about this analogy: you have two water hoses: both work, but one is always kinking up while the other is a breeze to use. Which do you naturally want to use? This is CES in a nutshell.
Customer experience scores act as an early warning system for negative word-of-mouth experiences. Just as people can often “feel a storm coming in their bones,” a negative CES score indicates future revenue problems from customers having challenging experiences.
Then there’s the financial perspective when it comes to customer effort scores. Good customer service can be a significant cost center for many business owners. High-effort interactions often translate to longer resolution times, repeated phone calls, and increased labor costs. Businesses can streamline their processes by optimizing the customer experience based on CES insights, leading to faster resolutions and, consequently, reduced customer service costs. It’s a win-win: customers enjoy a smoother experience, and businesses benefit from operational streamlining.
Lastly, in an era where autonomy is prized, the importance of self-service channels cannot be overstated. Whether it’s a knowledge base, an FAQ section, or automated chatbots, customers often prefer finding solutions on their own terms.
CES provides invaluable insights into these self-service channels. Are customers finding what they need effortlessly? Or are there roadblocks that hinder their journey? By measuring and subsequently optimizing CES for self-service platforms, businesses can enhance these channels, ensuring that customers find answers quickly and efficiently.
CES is more than just a metric; it’s a compass. It points businesses toward continuous improvement, guiding them toward enhanced customer loyalty, operational efficiency, and sustainable growth. As we navigate the intricate maze of customer experience, the benefits of measuring CES serve as beacons, illuminating the path to success.
Crafting a CES survey similar to having a quick conversation with your customers. It’s not just about asking questions; it’s about listening, understanding, and evolving based on the feedback. But how do you design a CES survey that gathers data and fosters genuine engagement? We’ve got a template below that you can use as well.
1. Precise Wording: A tried-and-true wording is: “On a scale of ‘very easy’ to ‘very difficult’, how easy was it to interact with us?” This direct approach ensures that customers understand the questions and can respond accurately.
2. The Power of Open-Ended Feedback: While scales and numbers provide actionable data, the real information often lies in open-ended feedback. Encourage customers to share their thoughts, feelings, and suggestions.
3. Keep it Brief: Respect your customers’ time by ensuring your CES survey is concise. A few well-crafted questions can often yield more insights than a lengthy questionnaire that risks losing someone’s interest.
4. Encourage Honesty: Set the tone right from the start. Let your customers know that you value their honest feedback, be it positive or negative. All feedback is a gift.
Thank you for choosing [Insert Company Name]. We’re committed to improving our services and your feedback is invaluable to us. Please take a moment to complete this brief survey.
On a scale of 1 to 7, how easy was it to interact with [Insert Company Name]?
– 1 (Very Difficult) – 2 – 3 – 4 (Neutral) – 5 – 6 – 7 (Very Easy)
What was the primary reason for your interaction with us today?
Purchase a product/service
Seek customer support
Make an inquiry or get information
Provide feedback or make a complaint
Other (please specify): ________________
If you found any part of the interaction challenging, can you specify what it was? Navigating the website/app
Understanding product/service information
Communicating with customer service
Making a purchase or transaction – Other (please specify): ________________
Please share any additional comments or insights about your experience.
(Open-ended response) – ___________________________________________________________ – ___________________________________________________________ – ___________________________________________________________
Would you be open to a follow-up conversation if we have further questions about your feedback?
If yes, please provide your preferred contact method (email/phone): ________________
On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [Company Name] to a friend or colleague?
– 1 (Not at all likely)
– 10 (Extremely likely)
Thank you for your time and feedback! We appreciate your effort in helping us improve.
It’s easy to view and measure each metric in isolation. However, when these pieces come together, they paint a comprehensive picture far more insightful than any single metric on its own for a business.
CES & NPS: While CES gauges the ease of specific interactions, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) offers insights into the broader relationship between a customer and a brand. By measuring both, businesses can understand how effortless individual touchpoints are and gauge long-term loyalty and the likelihood of customers promoting the brand to others. In essence, while CES might highlight a hiccup in a recent transaction, NPS can indicate if this has impacted the overall company perception over time.
CES & CSAT: The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a snapshot of a customer’s immediate sentiment after a company interaction. It’s the quick check, the immediate reaction. When looked at with CES, a fascinating dynamic emerges. A high CSAT might indicate a satisfied customer, but if the CES reveals that the interaction was effort-intensive, it’s a sign that the score might be short-lived. On the flip side, an effortless experience (high CES) combined with a medium CSAT might indicate missed opportunities to take care of the customer. By integrating CES with NPS and CSAT, businesses can achieve a high-level view of the customer journey.
It’s important to remember that no single metric holds all the answers to your business health. Instead, the combination of CES, NPS, and CSAT working together provides businesses with the holistic perspective needed to understand and cater to their customers.
Building a perfect customer effort survey will only be worthwhile if customers take it. Distributing the CES survey is half the battle. It comes down to the right timing, integration, and survey length.
1. Timing: Distributing a CES survey immediately after an interaction ensures that the experience is fresh in the customer’s mind.
2. Integration: Embedding surveys within checkout can enhance their reach and effectiveness.
3. Respect Their Time: Keep surveys concise. Some data is better than no data.
Calculating your CES scores is a critical part of the experience. Here are 4 tips to get it right:
1. The Math Behind The Score: At its core, calculating the customer effort score is straightforward. After distributing your survey, where customers rate the ease of their interaction on a scale, you simply compute the average of all responses.
Add up all the scores and divide by the number of customers that took the survey. This average score gives you a snapshot of the perceived effort in customer interactions. A higher score indicates smoother experiences, while a lower score signals potential friction points.
2. The Pulse of Customer Experience: Think of the score as a heartbeat of your CS experience, reflecting the health of your customer interactions. Monitoring it over time allows businesses to detect any irregularities. A sudden dip? Perhaps a recent staffing change has inadvertently complicated a process. A steady rise? Your efforts in streamlining customer touchpoints are working.
3. Trends Over Transactions: While individual scores provide valuable insights, the trends truly matter. Monitoring metrics over time offers a bird-eye view of the customer journey. It helps businesses discern patterns, anticipate challenges, and tailor strategies that resonate with evolving customer expectations.
4. Continuous Feedback Loop: The nature of customer preferences means that what works today might be less effective tomorrow. It could also be different by geolocation as well By regularly calculating and monitoring metrics, businesses establish a continuous feedback loop.
Navigating feedback from CES surveys can often be challenging, but like any significant project, you’ll want to break it up into individual steps.
While the average customer effort score provides a bird’s-eye view of your business health, the real insights lie in the details. Look into individual responses, especially those at the extreme ends of the scale. These often hold clues to what’s working exceptionally well or areas that need immediate attention from leadership.
Not all feedback is created equal. Segmenting responses by source—be it from a mobile app, website, in-store, or email – can provide valuable insights. For instance, a high effort score on the mobile app might indicate UX issues, while the same score from in-store feedback could point to staffing concerns.
Gathering customer feedback is just the starting point; acting on it is where the real journey begins for company leaders and stakeholders.
Whenever possible, reach out to customers, especially those with high-effort experiences. Understand their pain points, apologize if necessary, and assure them of corrective measures. Managers should take detailed notes.
Not all feedback will require immediate action. Prioritize based on the comment frequency and impact it will make.
- Shopping website: A customer rated their checkout experience as ‘difficult.’ Digging deeper, it was revealed that the multi-step verification process was cumbersome, requiring customers to create an account checkout. In response, the company implemented a quicker guest checkout.
- Banking app: A user found it ‘very easy’ to navigate their account details but ‘difficult’ to set up recurring payments. This feedback highlighted a UI section that needed refinement.
- Retail: A lawn and garden retailer found that customers buying 5+ items clogged up the lines for people with 1 item. A self-checkout was implemented in response.
In the grand story of measuring the health of your customer service, the customer effort score emerges as an overarching theme. It’s a metric that cuts through the noise, offering clear, actionable insights on how easy customers find it to do business with you. Every touch point matters when it comes to the customer experience:
- Phone calls
- Knowledge systems
- Email support
Think of a customer effort score as a snapshot of a specific interaction’s ease, while NPS looks at broader brand loyalty and CSAT captures the immediate post-interaction sentiment. Together, they paint a pretty telling picture about the state of your customer experience and customer service.
Generally, a higher customer effort indicates smoother, more effortless interactions with a company. There are places that a CES survey can miss, so it’s always important to go beyond just charts and spreadsheets.
Timing is crucial. Distributing surveys immediately post-interaction ensures that their experience is fresh in the customer’s mind, leading to more accurate feedback. Regularly monitoring data over time also helps businesses detect trends and make proactive improvements.
Yes! By pinpointing friction points and streamlining interactions, businesses can enhance customer loyalty, reduce churn, and build positive word of mouth.