Customer Effort Score

Customer Effort Score

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Emily Rivers
Marketing & Product

Table of contents

    TL;DR: The Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how much effort customers need to interact with your business. This metric helps gauge customer satisfaction and loyalty by focusing on ease of interaction. Lowering customer effort can increase loyalty and referrals. CES surveys should be used after key interactions like purchases, customer service touchpoints, onboarding, and product updates. Different survey methods, such as Likert scales, numbered scales, and emoticon ratings, can measure CES. Reducing effort through self-service options, quick response times, well-trained staff, multiple feedback channels, and closing the feedback loop can significantly improve customer experience and satisfaction.

    The Customer Effort Score, also known as CES, is a great way to measure how your business is doing. It involves asking your customers how much effort they have to put in to do business with you and helps you to get an idea of customer satisfaction, future purchase behavior, and where you might need to make improvements to your product or service. But how do you measure it? And why should you care about Customer Effort Score?

    What is Customer Effort Score?

    Customer Effort Score is a service metric that tells you how much effort customers have to put in to buy from or interact with your business. For example, a high-effort service interaction may involve a customer having to search through multiple pages of your support material to troubleshoot an issue with your software, while a low-effort experience would be them messaging your customer service team on a web chat and getting the issue solved quickly.

    Why should businesses measure Customer Effort Score?

    Businesses should measure CES because an easy experience is a better indicator of customer loyalty than just measuring customer satisfaction. In Dixon, Freeman and Toman's 2010 article Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers, their research found that 81% of customers who reported high effort said they would speak negatively about the company to others.

    So if you focus on reducing customer effort, you may see increased customer loyalty and a higher referral rate - both great for your bottom line.

    When to use the Customer Effort Score

    To get an accurate Customer Effort Score, you should send a CES survey almost immediately after your customers interact with your product or service in some way. Here are a few examples of when to use a CES survey:

    1. After an interaction that led to a purchase/renewal

    If you send out a CES survey immediately after a client has purchased from you, their experience is fresh in their mind, so you'll get the most accurate data. If you offer a self-service experience for purchases, you can place a survey on the page that thanks the customer for their purchase.

    2. After customer service touchpoint

    Another great time to send CES surveys is after a customer has interacted with your support team. Ask customers to rate how effective your support team was at resolving their issues immediately after an email ticket or live chat session is closed.

    You could also use a CES survey after a customer has read a support article to determine whether your content is descriptive and helpful enough to help customers solve issues themselves.

    4. After the onboarding process

    To increase customer loyalty, you want your onboarding process to be as smooth as possible. So asking your newest customers how much effort they had to put into onboarding is a good idea. Asking customers to answer a CES survey question soon after onboarding will help you to identify pain points, and therefore areas to improve, to help better the customer journey and encourage future purchases.

    5. To help your product team with UX testing

    CES surveys are an excellent way to supplement your customer success teams and product team's UX and UI testing. If you've just implemented a new feature or process, getting CES feedback can help you understand whether the feature is working. Plus, it can help your teams identify areas where your customers start to get frustrated so you can work to reduce abandoned purchases or sign-ups.

    Productlane integrates with a range of feedback sources, including Slack and Intercom, so you can add customer feedback straight into your issue tracker. This helps your product team prioritize features that actually matter to customers, helping to improve customer satisfaction and boost customer loyalty.

    Types of CES surveys

    There are a few ways that you can conduct CES surveys, and each has its own use case and pros and cons:

    Likert Scale

    The Likert Scale is a 5- to 7-point scale that's often used in research questionnaires. The Customer Effort Score question could be something like "How easy was it to navigate the checkout process today?" and customers could answer on a 7-point scale between 'extremely difficult' and 'extremely easy'.

    Another way to use the Likert Scale is to provide a statement such as "The process to file a helpdesk ticket was easy." and ask customers to rate on a 5- to 7-point scale of 'strongly agree' to 'strongly disagree'. For example:

    1. Strongly disagree

    2. Disagree

    3. Somewhat disagree

    4. Undecided

    5. Somewhat agree

    6. Agree

    7. Strongly agree

    If you want to use a 5-point scale, you can take out 'somewhat disagree' and 'somewhat agree'.

    Numbered scale

    Numbered CES surveys are also popular, as it's a quick way to gain insight from customers about the level of effort they had to put into an interaction. You could ask a question such as "How easy was it to solve your issue today?" and customers can rate how much effort they had to put in on a numbered scale.

    However, some customers can find numbered scales confusing, as they're unsure which numbers demonstrate high or low effort. It can help to color code the scale from red to green so customers know which way to score. Typically, high numbers indicate low effort, while low numbers indicate high-effort experiences.

    Emoticon ratings

    Emoticon ratings are a quick and easy way of determining customer effort. This type of CES survey is ideal if you want to assess customer effort on many minor aspects of your website. Pose a question such as "How easy was the onboarding process?" or a statement such as "The onboarding process was easy" and present customers with emoticons, ranging from very angry to very happy, to describe their level of effort.

    Since an emoticon rating takes seconds to complete, you're likely to get more responses using this type of CES survey.

    Customer Effort Score calculation

    The Customer Effort Score calculation is pretty simple: the sum of customer effort ratings divided by the total number of CES survey responses. This will give you the average amount of effort your customers have to put in when they interact with your brand.

    However, if you're using emoticon responses, the Customer Effort Score formula is slightly different. Assign a number to each emoticon and calculate the average number of customers that chose each face. The higher number is your Customer Effort Score.

    What is a good Customer Effort Score?

    There are no industry standards for what makes a good Customer Effort Score, so it can be tricky to determine what a good CES score is. The best thing to do is to benchmark your effort score against your business.

    Average Customer Effort Scores that fall towards either direction of your scale indicate where your brand lies in terms of effort and, therefore, customer experience. For example, if your scale has 1 as 'extremely easy' and 7 as 'extremely difficult', a CES score of 2 suggests that your customers have low-effort experiences. However, if your score is 6, it indicates high customer effort.

    Take your first Customer Effort Score and use it as a benchmark to improve. Be realistic about your goals - the chances are, if your score is 6, it's going to take a lot of work on your product to get the Customer Effort Score down to 1.

    How to improve your Customer Effort Score

    Offer self-service options

    Use self-service tools to your advantage. The lower the number of customer touchpoints these days, the better, so make it easy for your customers to upgrade or downgrade their accounts, resolve issues, and renew subscriptions without ever having to get in touch with your customer support team.

    Reduce response times

    There are times when your customers will have to reach out to your customer service team, so make sure they don't have to wait around for an answer. Long waits on chatbots or phone lines indicate you need to employ more staff during busy times, or consider using a callback system.

    Train your customer service reps

    You'll improve customer loyalty if they feel supported through every part of the buying process. A great way to do that is to ensure that your customer service reps are highly trained experts in your product or service and can help customers quickly.

    Give your team regular training on new features, but also offer training on soft skills such as active listening and problem solving to help improve satisfaction with every customer interaction.

    Provide multiple channels for customer feedback

    Meet your customers where they want to leave you feedback. Some may want to reach out via social media, while others will be happier with a more traditional service interaction such as email support.

    Plus, offering many channels increases the likelihood of responses. Of course, while you hope that most of these will be positive responses, the negative feedback is what will help you to improve your product and increase brand loyalty.

    Close the feedback loop

    It's crucial to close the feedback loop with customers when they take the time to tell you about their experience. If you give customers the opportunity to tell you more about their experience in your customer effort score surveys, follow up with them when you make changes to your product based on their feedback.

    Productlane makes it easy to close the customer feedback loop. Pull feedback from all sources into a feedback portal and your issue tracker, prioritize the issues that affect customers the most then tell your customers when you've acted on their feedback. It's an easy way to gain loyal customers and work on providing an effortless experience for them.

    Measuring the Customer Effort Score (CES) is a strategic approach that provides valuable insights into the customer experience with your business. By understanding the effort required by customers to complete interactions, you can pinpoint areas for improvement and enhance overall satisfaction.

    Calculating and benchmarking your CES provides a clear picture of where your business stands and helps set realistic goals for improvement. Prioritizing actions that reduce customer effort - such as offering self-service options, reducing response times, training customer service representatives, and providing multiple feedback channels - can significantly enhance the customer experience. Why not implement a customer effort score survey today?

    FAQ on Customer Effort Score

    What does Customer Effort Score measure?

    The Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how much effort customers have to put in to interact with a business, such as making a purchase, getting a query answered, or resolving an issue. By assessing how easy or difficult these interactions are, CES provides insights into areas where the customer experience can be streamlined, ultimately aiming to reduce friction and enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

    How often should a Customer Effort Score survey be used?

    A Customer Effort Score survey should be used immediately after key customer interactions to capture accurate and relevant feedback. This includes moments such as:

    • After a purchase or renewal: Sending a CES survey right after a transaction ensures the customer’s experience is fresh in their mind.

    • Following a customer service interaction: After resolving a customer query or issue, a CES survey can gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of the support your team provided.

    • Post-onboarding: Surveying new customers after they complete the onboarding process can highlight any initial friction points and help improve the experience for future customers.

    • During product updates or new feature rollouts: CES surveys can help assess how user-friendly new features or changes are, guiding further enhancements.

    What is the difference between CSAT, NPS, and Customer Effort Score?

    There are a few differences between CSAT, NPS and CES:

    Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT):

    • Measures: Overall customer satisfaction with a specific interaction or the product/service as a whole.

    • Question: Typically asks customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale (e.g., "How satisfied were you with our service today?").

    • Focus: Immediate emotional response to a specific experience.

    Net Promoter Score (NPS):

    • Measures: Customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend the business to others.

    • Question: Asks customers to rate on a scale of 0-10 how likely they are to recommend the company to a friend or colleague.

    • Focus: Long-term relationship and customer sentiment towards the brand.

    Customer Effort Score (CES):

    • Measures: The ease of interaction and the effort required by customers to achieve their goals.

    • Question: Typically asks customers to rate the effort needed for a specific interaction (e.g., "How easy was it to solve your issue today?").

    • Focus: Identifying and reducing friction points in customer interactions to improve overall experience and efficiency.

    Each of these metrics offers unique insights: CSAT for immediate satisfaction, NPS for overall loyalty and advocacy, and CES for interaction ease and process efficiency. Together, they provide a comprehensive understanding of the customer experience.

    Time to start with continuous discovery.

    Productlane is built for a continuous feedback loop. With your customers as well as potential users.
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