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How to Measure & Improve your Customer Effort Score (CES)

Understanding and optimising customer effort is an important strategy for scaling Brands. 


Customers aren’t looking for difficult experiences. Instead, they expect effortless engagement with your brand, and providing such an experience increases the likelihood that they will return for more. 


That has been true for some time, but the specifics of their expectations, the most effective techniques for dealing with their inquiries, and how we measure customer experience (CX) delivery are all constantly evolving. 


While various metrics are used to assess customer sentiment, the Customer Effort Score (CES) is as a powerful tool for determining the ease of interaction.  


In this blog, we will look at the fundamentals of CES, including its significance, methodologies, and practical applications for business growth. 


4 people looking at computer. manager helping cx team.

Understanding Customer Effort Score (CES) 


Customer Effort Score (CES) is an important metric in the field of customer experience that assesses how easily customers can use your product or service, resolve a support issue, or find the information they need. Unlike traditional satisfaction metrics, CES values ease of interaction over overall sentiment


The value of CES stems from its ability to predict customer loyalty and advocacy.

 

“Customer loyalty depends on how easy you make it for your customers to do business with you” - Gartner 


According to research, reducing customer effort has a significant impact on brand loyalty, with 94% of customers indicating a willingness to repurchase compared with 4% of those experiencing high effort.  


Understanding the fundamentals of CES and its role in predicting customer loyalty enables businesses to proactively streamline their processes and improve the overall customer experience. 



When to Use CES Surveys 


A. When Should You Use CES vs. Other Customer Experience Metrics 

When analysing all of your potential avenues in customer experience metrics, it's critical to understand when to use CES surveys versus other commonly used metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). 


CES surveys are simple to carry out and track over time, making them ideal for assessing customer loyalty. However, CES may not always provide a complete picture of customer sentiment and should be combined with other metrics such as NPS.  


While CES measures the effort expended during a single interaction, NPS assesses the overall relationship between the customer and the organisation, taking into account factors such as product attributes, price, brand perception, and customer service. By combining CES and NPS, businesses can gain a more nuanced understanding of customer loyalty and satisfaction levels. 


CSAT assesses customers' short-term satisfaction with particular interactions, products, or events. While versatile, CSAT is best suited for assessing immediate reactions rather than long-term relationships or loyalty. 


When combined CES, NPS and CSAT provide a holistic view of customer satisfaction and loyalty across multiple touchpoints and interactions. 



B. Key Touchpoints & Strategic Timing 

CES surveys are strategically placed at key touchpoints along the customer journey, providing valuable insights into the ease of customer interactions. These surveys are especially useful for post-purchase interactions and customer service engagement. Businesses that collect feedback immediately following these interactions can gain real-time insights into the customer experience and identify areas for improvement


The timing of CES surveys is critical for getting accurate feedback and encouraging continuous improvement. Sending surveys right after an interaction ensures that customers' experiences are still fresh in their minds, increasing the reliability of the collected data. This real-time feedback loop enables Brands to quickly address issues and improve the customer experience. 


Here are key times when CES can provide valuable insights: 


  1. Immediately after a purchase or subscription: Collecting feedback at this stage provides new insights into the level of effort customers made during the purchasing process. 

  2. Shortly after an interaction with customer service: CES surveys are useful in determining the effectiveness of customer service interactions.  

  3. To supplement product teams’ UI and UX testing: CES surveys provide useful feedback on how well the user interface facilitates new feature adoption and identifies potential points of friction in the user experience. 

  4. To compare with other metrics: Comparing CES results to other metrics such as CSAT and NPS provides a more complete picture of customer sentiment. Analysing multiple metrics simultaneously allows businesses to identify trends, prioritise areas for improvement, and generate actionable insights. 



Key Times for CES Surveys


Crafting CES Surveys & Calculating CES Scores 


A. Crafting Effective CES Surveys 

Creating effective CES surveys is critical for accurately measuring customer effort and gaining actionable insight. 


When developing CES surveys, businesses can use a variety of methodologies to effectively capture customer feedback. Likert scales, numbered scales, and emoticon ratings are popular approaches to measuring customer effort, each with their own set of advantages.  


Likert scales offer a structured numerical scale paired with descriptive phrases that customers can use to rate their level of effort.  


Numbered Scales are designed around a question in which customers rate the ease of use on a numbered scale. 


Emoticon ratings, on the other hand, give customers a visual representation of effort, allowing them to express their emotions more naturally.  


To tailor CES surveys to specific interactions, Brands should opt for questions that are clear, relevant, and actionable. Here are 7 sample CES survey questions you could include: 

 

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy was to complete your task today? 

  2. How much effort did you have to put in to get your problem resolved? 

  3. Did our customer service representative make it easy for you to find a solution? 

  4. How easy was for you to find the information you needed on our website? 

  5. How satisfied are you with the level of effort required to complete your recent purchase? 

  6. Please describe any challenges you encountered while interacting with our website. 

  7. How satisfied are you with the ease of use of our platform? 

 

Including open-ended questions alongside structured responses allows businesses to collect qualitative insights while contextualising quantitative data. This hybrid approach provides a more complete understanding of customer experiences and identifies underlying problems that quantitative metrics alone may overlook. 



B. Calculating and Interpreting CES Scores 

Calculating CES scores involves collecting survey responses and calculating an average score to assess overall customer effort.  


CES Formula for Calculation


The formula for calculating CES scores is simple:  


Add all customer effort ratings and divide by the number of responses.

 

This simple calculation produces a clear measure of customer effort.  


To contextualise performance, CES scores must be interpreted while taking into consideration scale variations and industry benchmarks. Comparing your CES scores to the industry standards allows you to identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement.  


Continuous monitoring and benchmarking are essential if you want to track CX improvements over time and drive sustained increases in customer satisfaction and loyalty. 


Using CES scores as a key performance indicator (KPI) allows Brands to prioritise initiatives that improve interactions, reduce friction, and ultimately foster long-term customer loyalty. 



Advantages, Limitations, and Nuances of CES 

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a useful metric for evaluating customer experience. However, like any other metric, it has advantages, limitations, and nuances that brands must consider:


Advantages: 


  1. Predictive Power: CES is an excellent predictor of future purchasing habits and referral likelihood. 

  2. Actionable Insights: CES helps CX optimisation by identifying sources of friction and opportunities for improvement. Businesses that assess the ease of specific interactions can roll out targeted initiatives to streamline processes and boost overall customer satisfaction. 

  3. Granular Analysis: With CES, businesses can identify and address pain points at multiple touchpoints. This level of detail allows for targeted efforts to improve specific aspects of the customer experience, resulting in tangible increases in loyalty and retention. 

Limitations: 


  1. Lack of Segmentation: CES surveys typically lack segmentation capabilities, limiting their ability to differentiate between customer segments or journey stages. Without segmentation, businesses risk overlooking the unique preferences or challenges that different customer groups face, reducing the effectiveness of targeted interventions. 

  2. Temporal Sensitivity: CES scores are time sensitive, requiring immediate feedback following customer interactions to capture accurate sentiment. Delayed surveys may result in recall bias or inaccurate responses, reducing the reliability of the data collected. 

  3. Narrow Focus: CES surveys concentrate on specific interactions or touchpoints, potentially ignoring more general aspects of the customer relationship. 



Nuances:

CES is most effective when used as a complement to a comprehensive CX measurement framework. While CES provides useful insights into the ease of specific interactions, it should be combined with other metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) to provide a more complete picture of the customer experience. 



Strategies to Improve Your CES Score 


Higher CES scores signal that customers have had issues with whatever aspect of the product you've researched. These scores also show that they needed to devote more time and effort to figuring out what to do.  


Improving your CES means taking proactive steps to address the underlying issues that contributed to the increased effort levels reported by customers.  


Here are key strategies for improving your CES score: 


  1. Improve the UI and UX: Complexity, clutter, and unintuitive design can increase customer effort levels. Simplify and tidy up the user interface, reduce the number of clicks, and optimise performance to improve usability. You can pinpoint areas for improvement by making a CES survey centred around specific UI/UX features. 

  2. Streamline Onboarding: Long or challenging onboarding processes may annoy new users and raise effort levels. Provide clear instructions and streamline onboarding flows to ensure a smooth and intuitive user experience.  

  3. Enhance Customer Support: Slow or unresponsive customer service can result in increased customer effort and negative feedback. Implement proactive support strategies to foresee and respond to customer needs before they escalate. 

  4. Regular Feedback: Collect customer feedback on a regular basis to assess the effectiveness of your initiatives and identify opportunities for growth. Automate the feedback collection process by incorporating features such as survey recurrence to ensure a consistent feedback loop.



CES is a powerful tool for businesses to evaluate the ease of customer experiences, resulting in increased brand loyalty and advocacy.  


The strategic use of CES surveys at key touchpoints along the customer journey allows brands to capture real-time insights and address pain points quickly. A thoughtful survey design makes sure the feedback is clear and relevant. 


Continuously refining CES scores is a must to effectively leverage insights and drive significant changes. Using CES insights will help drive meaningful and sustainable customer relationships and improve brand loyalty, advocacy, and long-term success. 


 

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