Customer Effort Score (CES) is a single question asked immediately after an interaction with a product or service to measure customer loyalty primarily based on how easy it was to do business with a company.
The Customer Effort Score was developed by the Corporate Executive Board and started to really rise in popularity with the publication of a Harvard Business Review article in 2010 titled ‘Stop Trying to Delight your Customers‘.
The simple premise was that delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does.
And that’s how Customer Effort Score became so important…
How is the Customer Effort Score Calculated?
Like NPS, it seems like less is best with just the one question and a 5 point scale.
How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?”
It is scored on a scale from 1 (very low effort) to 5 (very high effort).
Of course, other companies then decided to tweak it and make it their own…
The new and improved Customer Effort Score
The Customer Effort Score was first introduced back in 2010 and over time, others have tweaked the model.
Garter, for example, have a ‘new and improved’ Customer Effort Score based on a revised question and 7 point answer scale.
An example of a revised question/statement is now “The company made it easy for me to handle my issue”.
- Strongly disagree
- Somewhat disagree
- Neither agree or disagree
- Somewhat agree
- Strongly agree
To determine your score, you take the respondents who answered 5 or above and divide by the total number of respondents.
When should you conduct a Customer Effort Score Survey?
The idea behind the CES is the immediacy in conducting the survey after someone has interacted with your business.
This could be:
- Immediately after an interaction with the call centre/customer service
- Immediately after purchasing a product or service
More recently, companies have also started to use CES to measure the aggregate experience someone has with your brand or product in general.
Why is the Customer Effort Score important?
How customers score their Customer Effort has a strong link to customer loyalty.
According to Gartner, 96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience.
And you don’t want disloyal customers.
Evidence suggests that disloyal customers spread negative word of mouth about your business and cease future purchases.
Even the original CES results found the predictive power of Customer Effort Score to be strong:
Of the customers who reported low effort, 94% expressed an intention to repurchase, and 88% said they would increase their spending.
What are the alternatives to Customer Effort Score?
There are an ever-increasing amount of consulting firms trying to invent the next big thing in measuring customer experience.
And for good reason.
In 2018, optimising the CX was ranked the number one opportunity for global businesses and 2019 seems set for a record investment for businesses looking to improve the Customer Experience and use it as a key differentiator in the market.
The three most common CX Metrics in use in 2019 are (click to learn more):
How do you improve your Customer Effort Score?
A quick search on the internet will result in no shortage of theories, ideas, models etc on how to improve your score.
Regardless of which model or industry expert you find, the basic premise is that you need to make things EASY for your customers.
A simple sentence to write, very hard to put into practice!
There is typically so single quick fix for improving your results but to give you some ideas on how you can improve your Customer Effort Score:
1. Don’t just resolve the current issue— try and prevent the next one.
2. Empower customer service reps to address the emotional side of customer interactions.
3. Minimise channel switching by improving your self-service channels.
4. Use feedback from disgruntled or struggling customers and act on that intelligence
5. Empower the front line to focus on getting the right outcome for the customer, rather than worrying about productivity metrics.
Recommended further reading: The new Customer Experience stages you just have to get right beyond 2020
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