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Customer Effort Score (CES)

The customer effort score (CES) is a benchmark that helps you determine your customers’ satisfaction by measuring how much effort they put into engaging with the business.

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Sales KPI Example - Customer Effort Score (CES) Metric

In today's competitive landscape, providing exceptional customer experiences has become a top business priority. Customers are no longer satisfied with good products or services; they expect seamless interactions and effortless solutions to their problems. 

And so, businesses need to analyze customer satisfaction to identify areas of improvement, thus improving their overall satisfaction.

There are many ways to determine how your customers feel about your business methods, products, and customer service. One of the most important sales metrics is the customer effort score. Read on to learn more about it, how to measure it, and why you should be reducing customer effort in the first place.

What Is Customer Effort Score (CES)?

Customer effort score, known simply as CES, is a metric that measures how much effort customers put in to interact with your business or brand. The lower the customer effort, the more likely they will be to interact with your business again.

You can get information such as how easy it was for them to buy your product or use your service, whether navigating your website was simple, and how effective your customer service was. The overall input from the customer tells you how hard they worked to get what they wanted, whether it was to subscribe to your service, order a product, resolve a question, or initiate a return.

Surveys determining the CES focus on the customer’s effort to get their ideal resolution. For example, suppose you have a chatbot on your website homepage that helps with any issue from site navigation to returning an order. If so, most customers should ideally reply positively to your CES survey because they don’t have to struggle to find help.

High CES ensures every customer is offered the most accessible solutions to engage with your business. If you make it difficult for customers to buy from you, they’ll look for another solution that requires less effort. Conversely, the easier you make the processes for customers, the more likely they’ll stay loyal to your business.

You can continually track your CES over time to ensure you always have favorable results. A drastic change in the customer effort might mean you have a website glitch or find that customer emails go to spam instead of a customer service rep’s inbox for a quick response. 

How To Measure Your Customer Effort Score

To measure your customer effort score (CES) score, you must survey your customers while they engage with your business. 

For example, you can survey customers after they purchase or interact with your customer service. You can have the questions pop up on the website, come up as a link at the end of a customer chat, or go through email. Regardless of your survey method, many people will ignore this step, making it hard to calculate your CES. 

However, using a numeric scale or emoticons to display customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction is a great way to show customers it’ll take just a few seconds to complete this step. The easier the survey, the more likely customers will respond, giving you plenty of data to calculate your score.

What Is a Good CES?

It’s hard to give a general figure for a good customer effort score (CES) because there are many different methods to gauge customer satisfaction in the first place. For example, some businesses use scales ranging from one to five, one to seven, or one to ten. Some use emoticons expressing displeasure, neutrality, or satisfaction.

Depending on your survey approach, you can calculate overall customer satisfaction by determining how many people rate your company highly, whether it’s a high number or a smiley face. Divide the high ratings by the total number of completed surveys to understand the customer satisfaction percentage.

Ideally, you’ll have a high percentage of customer satisfaction as your final CES data. Even with great ratings, you may still want to find ways to streamline your business processes to ensure customers don’t have to make too much of an effort to get what they want.

When To Use Customer Effort Score

You want to send surveys soon after a customer interacts with your company, so there are three critical times to use customer effort score (CES):

  • After a purchase
  • After a subscription sign-up
  • After a customer service interaction

After a Purchase

There are several ways to approach and gauge customer effort after they make a purchase. You can have a simple survey pop up as soon as they check out on the website or you can wait and email an hour after they complete the process. Either option allows you to get a quick response while the process is still fresh in their minds.

Keep every question clear and concise. Some examples include "On a scale of 1-10, how much effort did you have to place in completing your purchase?" and "Do you feel the purchase process was straightforward and easy to understand? Rate our process from a scale of 1-5."

After a Subscription Sign-Up

If you offer SaaS or a subscription, you can send surveys after they sign up. Again, you can use one of the timelines mentioned in the purchase option. 

However, since the customer is using your subscription or software, you can wait a few weeks and then have a survey pop up in the program. This delay allows customers to use the product and give a more thoughtful reply.

Waiting to get feedback after the customer has a chance to use the product means you can get more information. Instead of only asking for number ratings, you can ask open-ended questions about what they like or dislike about the product. 

You can include questions about account setup, configuration, or any challenges while starting the subscription. This feedback will give you ideas for changes in real time without waiting for an annual report.

After a Customer Service Interaction

If you’ve ever interacted with customer service, you’ve experienced the abrupt surveys when the call or chat ends. 

This approach will always work because you just spoke to someone, and the interaction is fresh in your mind. If the customer representative solves your problem, you’re pleased and will give a good rating. If you’re unsatisfied, the company can analyze the chat.

About 96% of customers who leave a business for another option do so because of poor customer service. The rep might not be helpful or friendly, or there was no resolution to the client’s issue. As a result, they’ll try another business, even if they don’t yet know if its customer service is better than yours.

Asking for immediate feedback from customer service gives you a chance to look over the call or chat transcript the rating refers to, so you can see what you need to change in the approach. 

If you don’t send a survey right as the conversation ends, you should automate the process to send it within 20 minutes so the customer can test the issue and give an accurate reply.

In addition to the survey questions, include a section for open-ended feedback for the customer to share further suggestions in. This allows the customer to express their thoughts in their own words and provide specific feedback.

Other Customer Experience Metrics

Customer effort score (CES) isn’t the only metric that gives insight into your customer’s thinking and purchasing habits. You can use other metrics in conjunction with CES to get the complete picture of your business’ overall customer experience.

Net Promoter Score

The net promoter score (NPS) is another option many businesses use to learn about their customers. This metric is a way to measure customer loyalty by inspecting the relationship you have with each person.

NPS has a broader view of the customer than CES because it measures the entire customer experience, and not just the effort the customer must make to use your service. Net promoter score includes factors such as:

  • Product purpose
  • Product price
  • Overall value of service
  • Brand satisfaction
  • Customer service

NPS surveys range from 0, or not at all likely, to 10, or extremely likely. Your question can involve topics like how easy it was to make the purchase, how satisfied with your product they are, and how likely they are to use your business again and recommend you to someone they know.

There are three categories of responses for NPS:

  • Promoters who respond with 9 and 10
  • Passives who rate your business with 7 and 8
  • Detractors who score you in the 0 to 6 range

When you close a survey, you calculate the NPS by subtracting the percentage of detractors and the percentage of promoters. Your business’s NPS can range from -100 to +100. You want to have a high NPS because that number represents customer loyalty.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) asks for immediate feedback from customers. When they complete an order or receive their item, you ask for a rating that judges their initial satisfaction with the process. This quick response helps you understand the customer’s first reaction to dealing with your company.

A customer satisfaction survey uses numbered responses to ask how satisfied customers are with your company, usually on a scale of one to five. 

When you close the survey, you calculate your customer satisfaction by taking the number of four and five ratings and dividing it by your total number of survey responses. Multiply it by 100 to get the percentage of satisfied customers.

Ideally, your final figure is close to 100%, showing that most of your customers feel satisfied with your business. If the percentage is low, use the NPS and CES to find out where to improve your customer experience to please more people.

Types of CES Surveys

It’s essential to keep your customer effort score (CES) surveys simple, but there are several different methods you can use to get critical feedback. 

Consider how the three options below will help you gather data about your customer’s experience with your site, customer service, and overall business.

Numbered Scales

Numbered scales are one of the easiest surveys to conduct because people know the style well. You can ask questions that require a numbered score. A sample question could be: “How easy was it to contact customer service today?” Your customer can choose their response on a scale of one to five.

Low numbers on the scale typically mean customers aren’t satisfied with how much effort it takes to talk to someone about a problem. High numbers mean they thought it was a simple process. That means you want higher numbers in your responses to this type of survey.

Likert Scale

The Likert Scale is similar to the numbered scale, except statements are linked to the seven numbers. For example, you may ask, “It was easy to find the product on the web store.” 

Sample Likert Scale answers would include the following:

  1. Strongly Disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Somewhat Disagree
  4. Undecided
  5. Somewhat Agree
  6. Agree
  7. Strongly Agree

In addition to the numbers, some Likert Scales include color-coding, with red for the low numbers and green for agreement to ensure people select the right options.

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Emoticon Ratings

Emoticons are just as simple as the numbered scale, but more people will interact with emojis than numbers. When you process the data, you can assign numerical values to the emojis to simplify the calculation process. However, since more people like emoticons, it’s a surefire way to get survey responses.

You can choose to have three to five emoticons as the survey responses. You’ll have sad, neutral, and happy emoticon choices if you use three. Using five emojis gives more depth to the customer’s answers by adding extremely sad and extremely happy to the list. 

You can ask a question like, “It was easy for me to check out online,” and get a simple emoji response.

If you want clear-cut data, you can revise the emoticon system slightly to use a thumbs-up or thumbs-down response. This option cuts out the neutral reaction so you get a more decisive answer about your current process's effectiveness without getting meaningless data you can’t interpret without further questions.

How To Create CES Surveys

With several types of customer effort score (CES) surveys, creating one that will deliver data your business can use to improve is relatively simple. Regardless of your chosen survey style, consider these tips to help make and simplify your surveys.

Use Mobile Compatibility

In 2023, just over 52% of internet users accessed sites from their mobile device compared to a desktop computer. With that statistic in mind, you must ensure your surveys are compatible with mobile devices, whether a smartphone or a tablet.

You should keep surveys as simple as possible. Word every question clearly, without extra, potentially confusing text. Put the positive responses at the top and the negative at the bottom so it’s easier for the customer to leave positive feedback.

Eliminate unnecessary text that might push the survey questions down the page and require the user to scroll because they probably won’t. Don’t use external links that the user might click on and leave the survey.

Many survey creation sites will allow you to optimize the survey for mobile as you create it from your desktop. You can preview your surveys on different screen sizes to ensure it’s easy to read and interact with.

Automate Triggers

Technology can provide the help that you need in times like this. Automating triggers makes it easier to know every customer will get a survey after an interaction. You won’t need to track things yourself to know that someone just called customer service and now needs a survey link. 

Automating the process through a survey client lets you enter the specific times it should send surveys and which questions to send.

Share Data

Many different departments in your business need access to the survey results, so ensure you share data throughout the company. 

Salespeople need to know if customers can easily complete a purchase with minimal effort. Customer service needs insight into their interactions to continue helping customers efficiently. 

If you don’t grant access to the direct results across the entire company, regularly calculate the CES results and present them at meetings so your team is on the same page.

Why Track Your Customer Effort Score?

You might feel your business is doing enough to keep its customers happy, but you never know until you ask for feedback. That’s what the customer effort score is for.

Once you have the results, you’ll have a starting point to decide if you can continue your current business approach or need to change something to satisfy your customers further.

If it’s hard for people to navigate your website, order your product, or get an answer from customer support, they’ll choose another option. You might not suffer much from losing a customer or two, but even a seemingly small loss can significantly impact your business in the long run.

Customer churn is troubling because you spend a certain amount of your budget on marketing, which you can calculate to determine how much you spend to acquire each customer. When you lose a customer before you earn that money back, you’re losing marketing funds plus potential future income.

Tracking customer effort score (CES) empowers you to offer every customer the best services to ensure their satisfaction with your product so they stay loyal to your business.

Predict Future Behavior

A study found that about 94% of customers who don’t need to put much effort into purchasing will probably choose that item from the same company later. Thus, a high customer effort score will give you an idea of how many customers will likely purchase from you again. 

Establish Customer Loyalty

Many businesses rely on CSAT to gauge the likelihood of customer loyalty, but the CES impacts this metric more. 

Instead of making it difficult for people to get the best product, offer a reasonable outcome with low effort and fantastic customer service to ensure they return to your business when they need something else.

Encourage Customer Referrals

A customer who doesn't have to make much effort to get your product is more likely to recommend your company to people they know. They’ll speak highly of the purchase process and customer service responses. 

Conversely, if they’re unsatisfied with your business, they’ll most likely badmouth you to others, which can drastically narrow your consumer base.

How To Improve Your CES

Getting quality feedback from the survey types described above can seem challenging, but you can simplify the process to improve your customer effort score (CES) regardless of the data. 

The following tips will help you improve customer effort without analyzing their survey responses:

Offer Multiple Feedback Channels

You’ll lower the customer’s effort at getting help when you have multiple feedback channels. Instead of asking them to call a toll-free number, you can offer phone service, online chat, email tickets, and social media support. These options allow customers to choose the best method for their schedule and comfort level, ensuring they get the help they need. As a result, they’re more likely to give a positive CES after their interaction.

Use Self-Service Options

Some of your customers might not have time to call or chat with customer service, so they prefer to try and solve the issue themselves. You can maximize your customers' potential to resolve problems by providing online self-service options.

For example, you can have a knowledge base that provides the resources they need to fix a problem. You can also use a chatbot that recognizes certain keywords and can link an article that will help the customer more than talking to an employee would. This approach will free up your agents while increasing customer satisfaction with less effort.

Promote Quick Turnaround

Efficiently running your business is the best way to decrease customer wait times regarding customer support and access to their goods or services. Businesses naturally have high wait times when handling multiple customers, so you could offer a callback option to prevent people from waiting on hold for long periods.

Instead of making them wait to activate a subscription or talk to an employee, strive for quick response times to keep the customer satisfied and boost your customer effort score.

Use Customer Effort Score (CES) to Level Up Your Sales Strategies

Ultimately, reducing customer effort leads to stronger customer relationships, increased brand advocacy, and sustainable business growth. 

Customer effort score (CES) is the standard by which you measure the ease or difficulty of customer interactions with your business’ product, service, or support channels. This plays a crucial role in evaluating and improving its level of customer experience.

Several different survey options, such as the numerical scale and the Likert Scale, simplify the process of getting the data. By analyzing this data, you can gain better insights into customer experiences, identify areas for improvement, and drive customer-centric initiatives for your business.

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