Customer Effort Score (CES)

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a research metric that measures how much effort a customer has to apply to get an issue resolved, a request fulfilled, a product purchased/returned, or a question answered.

The CES question is typically structured; ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree that ‘company name’ was easy to deal with?’ The customer then ranks their experience on a five-point scale ranging from 1 – strongly disagree to 5 – strongly agree. Their answer determines how much effort was required on their part to interact with a business and how likely they will be to continue being a customer, or to use the products or services again

CES became a more widely recognised research metric after HBR published an article entitled ‘Stop Trying to Delight your Customers’ in July of 2010. Within the article they state, ‘Two critical findings emerged that should affect every company’s customer service strategy. First, delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does. Second, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.’

So how do you gather this Insight?

Implementing the customer effort score into your research strategy can be done in two ways. The first is to include the question in your mystery shopping assessment criteria, which will establish how much effort prospective customers have to put into interacting with your company. The second is to include the question into your voice of the customer feedback surveys, to establish how your current customers feel about the level of effort that is required to deal with your company.

What is a good customer effort score?

There is no definitive industry standard for customer effort score. However, the scoring is recorded on a numeric scale, so a higher score would represent a better user experience. For a standard seven-point scale, responses of five or higher would be considered good scores. Positive customer effort scores indicate that your product or service is user-friendly.


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