The pandemic changed the ways brands and consumers interact. After years of adapting to online grocery orders, curbside pickup, omnichannel customer service, and other amenities, consumers will continue to prioritize ease of use and convenience long after COVID-19 becomes an afterthought. With this in mind, the Customer Effort Score is a vital metric for companies to monitor.
Ninety-five percent of consumers consider customer service to be essential for fostering brand loyalty, while 84% use customer service as a key factor when they’re deciding whether to make a purchase. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about Customer Effort Scores and how to effectively use them as a key performance indicator for your business.
- A Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how much effort consumers needed to interact with your brand at various stages of their journey.
- CES surveys can work in tandem with your Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) to provide a comprehensive overview of a consumer’s experience.
- Brands calculate the Customer Effort Score based on the average survey responses on a ranking scale.
What is a Customer Effort Score (CES)?
The Customer Effort Score is a service metric that gauges how much effort customers exerted when interacting with your business to resolve an issue, purchase a product, submit a return, fulfill a request, obtain information, or any other type of communication.
When customers are dissatisfied with customer service, 91% say they’ll leave the brand without warning. About 47% would switch to a competitor, and 40% would tell others not to support the business. Taking a regular pulse of your customers is a wise business practice.
Your CES score provides valuable insight into how efficiently your company operates. While it’s typically associated with customer service, this metric also sheds light on other customer experience (CX) aspects such as website navigability, the effectiveness of AI tools and self-help resources, clarity of product descriptions, and more.
How to Measure Customer Effort Score
CES surveys typically ask customers to rate their experience on a scale of “very easy” to “very difficult,” although the survey format varies. It might be a numbered scale system, emoticons, or words. However, you design your survey, you’ll need to assign values for easy, neutral, and difficult answers.
For example, if you’re using a 1-10 ranking system, you’d likely assign an easy experience as 1-3, neutral as 4-7, and difficult as 8-10. To find the Customer Effort Score, take the sum of all customer effort scores and divide it by the total number of responses.
When Should You Use the Customer Effort Score as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)?
Brands rely on various key performance indicators and customer service metrics to monitor interactions with their company. In addition to CES, businesses use Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Scores (NPS).
A Net Promoter Score is a customer satisfaction metric that reveals how likely a customer is to recommend your business to a friend. When asking customers to provide their answer on a scale of 0 to 10:
- 0-6 scores are detractors. These customers were dissatisfied with their experience.
- 7-8 scores are passive and indicate that although customers were generally satisfied, they weren’t enthusiastically positive.
- 9-10 scores are promoters. These respondents were happy with your company and are likely to be loyal customers.
A Customer Satisfaction Score measures customer feedback at various points throughout the buyer’s journey. These surveys are usually organized on a 1-5 scale so participants can respond with:
- 1: Very Unsatisfied
- 2: Unsatisfied
- 3: Neutral
- 4: Satisfied
- 5: Very Satisfied
To summarize, NPS gauges how likely a customer is to recommend your business, CSAT measures overall satisfaction, and CES indicates how much effort the customer had to exert to make a purchase or resolve an issue.
But how do you know when you should be measuring customer effort compared to other metrics? In many cases, brands incorporate all three CX metrics into surveys. However, when in doubt, you should definitely consider tracking CES in these situations:
- Immediately after a service-related experience or interaction with your CX team: CES surveys ask customers to rate the level of effort they put into specific actions. With that in mind, sending these types of surveys doesn’t make sense unless the customer recently engaged with a particular touchpoint. Understanding the ease or difficulty that went into interacting with your CX team helps you gauge the quality of service your team provided.
- Immediately after a purchase, subscription, download, et cetera: When a customer completes a particular action in the sales funnel, your team needs to understand how much effort went into that transaction. If the purchase was difficult for one person, that pain point likely impacted other consumers who didn’t complete the action.
- During user interface (UI) or usability (UX) testing phases: If your team is making updates, direct feedback from the customers using the system can be instrumental in troubleshooting issues or enhancing the overall experience.
Pros and Cons of Using Customer Effort Scores
A Customer Effort Score is a powerful metric that illuminates the ease and convenience of your brand’s various touchpoints with consumers. However, there’s a reason companies often use a variety of key performance indicators rather than relying on CES alone. To determine when and if the Customer Effort Score is the right metric to measure, consider the pros and cons:
Benefits of CES:
- One of the most reliable predictors of future purchase behavior
- Capable of providing actionable feedback on specific types of consumer interactions
- Identifies pain points in the customer’s journey
- Predicts the likelihood of referrals and word-of-mouth marketing potential
- Simple implementation with automation capabilities
Disadvantages of CES:
- Lack of segmentation opportunities
- Limited information on the customer’s overall satisfaction
- It is difficult to determine specific problems without asking follow-up questions to collect additional information
- Loses effectiveness over time if the survey isn’t sent immediately after an interaction so it’s still top-of-mind for the customer
Improve Your Customer Effort Score and Other CX Metrics
Televerde helps businesses assess strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to improve the quality of their customer service and buyer experience. Visit our CX page or request a consultation to learn how we can help you develop strategies to boost CES, NPS, and CSAT results.