Customer Effort Score (CES)

Date created: Oct 12, 2022  •   Last updated: Oct 12, 2022

What is Customer Effort Score

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a measure of how easy or difficult it is for customers to interact with your company, for example, to make a purchase, to access a free trial, to resolve a problem, to navigate your website, or to get something done in your product. It’s measured by surveying customers after a specific interaction, and asking them to rate how easy or difficult it was to do what they wanted to do. Examples of difficult or high-effort interactions are ones that add friction for customers, for example, making them repeat information, interact with multiple people or screens, or wade through generic content to find information relevant to them.

Customer Effort Score Formula

ƒ Count(# of responses in each of the top 2 positive response categories) / Count(# of valid responses to the Customer Effort Score question)

How to calculate Customer Effort Score

If 20 of your customers answered a Customer Effort Score survey question, asked on a 5 point labelled scale, and 16 of those said it was either Extremely easy or Very easy to accomplish their goal, then your Customer Effort Score is 16/20*100= 80%

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What is a good Customer Effort Score benchmark?

CES score will vary, since different companies ask slightly different survey questions or use slightly different survey scales. On a labelled 5 point scale, where 5 is Extremely easy, a score of 4 or 5 is a good score.

How to visualize Customer Effort Score?

You can use a line chart to see how your Customer Effort Score changes over time. You can also use this chart to identify and address any declines in trend.

Customer Effort Score visualization example

Customer Effort Score

Line Chart

Here's an example of how to visualize your Customer Effort Score data in a line chart over time.
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Customer Effort Score


Measuring Customer Effort Score

More about Customer Effort Score

Why does CES matter? It matters because effort turns out to be a better indicator of customer loyalty than customer happiness or delight. And the more loyal a customer is, the more likely they are to give you referrals, and the less likely they are to churn. Reducing customer effort is a big deal because when customers have an issue and need to resolve it, out of the gate they are four times more likely to become disloyal. So the real opportunity is to avoid creating disloyal customers who speak negatively about your product and your brand. Gartner research has shown that when you give customers a low-effort experience, only 9% of them become disloyal, compared to 96% who become more disloyal in a high-effort experience.

And as an added bonus, reducing the effort your customers need to exert to accomplish their task often reduces your own cost of supporting or servicing customers. In general, use this metric after a specific interaction a customer has with your company.

While surveying customers, provide a statement, not a question, along with a 5-point Likert scale where 5 is Extremely easy and 1 is Not at all easy. This survey methodology helps uncover points of friction in specific customer interactions, can provide actionable insight if a follow up question is used, and is 40% more accurate at predicting customer loyalty as opposed to Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), according to Gartner research. However, this methodology may score some customers low based on one interaction, which may not be reflective of the health of the overall relationship. It can also be difficult to segment by customer.

Key considerations for successful surveys include optimizing for mobile, triggering surveys automatically, keeping the questions simple, and acting on the results internally and with clients.

A sample survey question might be structured as follows:

Based on your most recent experience with <Company>, please indicate how easy it was to accomplish your goal. Follow this question up with options on a scale such as:

  1. Extremely easy
  2. Very easy
  3. Somewhat easy
  4. Not very easy
  5. Not at all easy
  6. Decline to answer

Recommended resources related to Customer Effort Score

Check out this Harvard Business Review article revealing research findings from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), now part of Gartner.

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