What is Customer Effort Score?

What is Customer Effort

Implementing and tracking a customer effort score at your organization could be key in keeping your customers satisfied and improving their customer experience – a tough feat that can otherwise force you to become a mind reader, guessing at their wants and needs before they themselves know them.

Unfortunately, most managers and business leaders have neither extra-sensory perception nor access to gifted soothsayers for such purposes. You likely have access to the next best thing though: data.

Customer effort score, or CES, comes into play as a simple and effective means of gauging customer sentiment towards your services.

“The Effortless Experience” (Dixon, Toman, Delisi, 2013) touches on the importance of CES for predicting customer loyalty with a series of surprising metrics:

  • A full 94% of customers who felt a service or product required relatively little effort to use were inclined to purchase more from the same company. A mere 4% who perceived the same service or product to be high effort would do the same.
  • 88% percent of customers who enjoyed a low effort experience with a company were inclined to increase their spending with said company in the future. Again, just 4% of those whose experience had been high effort were interested in spending more money with the same company.
  • Perhaps worst of all is the discovery that 81% of all customers who had dealt with a high effort experience with a company were likely to disparage said company publicly. In sharp contrast, among customers whose experiences with a company had required little effort on their part, only 1% vowed to make mention of the company in a negative light.

Evidently, CES delivers highly useful information for maintaining positive, profitable relationships with your customers.

What is Customer Effort Score?

Specifically, customer effort scores reveal how simple your products and services are to use and how easy it is to do business with your company. This information can then be used to further improve and optimize said products, services, and processes.

Customer effort scores facilitate your company’s improvement in making customers’ lives easier. This differs from the usual approach of delivering an above-and-beyond consumer experience in that your objective centers on making the experience as seamless and pain-free as possible.

Customer effort score differs from the similar metrics “Net Promoter Score” and “Customer Satisfaction Score.” The former defines a customer’s type (defector or ambassador) and the latter deals only with your customers’ immediate satisfaction. CES focuses entirely on ease of use, overlooking these other facets to better determine a customer’s likelihood of doing repeat business with your company.

Although publications such as Harvard Business Review have touched on the importance of a multifaceted approach to analyzing your company’s relationships with its customers, for the purposes of gaining real-time insight into customer perceptions, CES is undeniably effective.

How CES Works

Customers are asked to define the ease with which they make use of your products. Answers such as “difficult,” “very difficult,” and “easy” help to hone in on problem points impeding usability before such issues run customers away.

In addition to the above, questions pertaining to the number of actual steps the customer needed to take to use your service and how much energy it took for them to do so factor into customer effort score as well. The lower the effort, the better the overall experience.

Tools for Measuring Customer Effort Score

Surveys form the foundation of all customer effort score measuring techniques. However, the exact questions asked range in precision. Their common thread lies in ease of use – both that which the customer is reporting on and that with which the survey itself is completed.

Automated Software

Through the use of automated software, surveys can be sent much more efficiently than manual means might allow. Integrating such software into purchase processing and customer support operations can help to generate more responses from your customers.

CES Scorecards

Another way to assess CES is by tracking indicators of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with resolving issues through unsolicited feedback on all interactions. As Gartner points out, reducing customer effort in service interactions helps to build customer loyalty in service organizations. In fact, customer effort is the strongest driver of customer loyalty, and customers want quick and easy resolutions to their problems when they contact your company.

Create a customer effort scorecard and gather information that impacts CES during customer interactions. Examples of high-effort indicators include having to explain the problem multiple times, switching between channels (web, phone, email, etc.), being transferred to other departments or representatives, and repeated contacts to solve an issue. Tracking these operational measurements, paired with CES surveys, enables organizations to identify high-effort pain points and implement strategic changes to reduce customer effort and improve the customer experience to enhance customer loyalty.

Tips for Using CES

Keep your questions as short as possible to avoid discouraging customers from completing the survey. Sliding selectors, star ratings and other quickly completed survey answer options are ideal for encouraging this type of feedback.

Also, avoid using leading questions to encourage more honest feedback. For example, “Have our excellent representatives solved your problem?” leads customers to either answer more favorably than they actually feel is appropriate or forego answering at all.

How Customer Effort Scores Can be Used

Immediately following interaction with a customer, present them with your one-question CES survey to capture relevant information while the experience is fresh on their mind.

In the event of a customer giving your company a low score, you can quickly present them with a chance to explain where in their experience with your company they have experienced problems.

Once you have an accurate customer effort score to work with, pain points in your company’s customer-facing operations can be assessed and addressed much more quickly.

To capture a little more information after the survey has been completed, you can also include an optional space for customers to mention anything else that comes to mind.

Although customer effort score surveys are short, the insight your business can derive from them – along with other customer effort assessments, such as tracking high-effort indicators with customer effort scorecards – is invariably sweet and immensely profitable if acted upon.

Where in your customer interactions are you considering implementing CES?