What is the Customer Effort Score or CES?


There are a variety of ways to measure customer satisfaction, most of which boils down to taking a simple survey. However, even within those methodologies, there are reasons to debate the pros and cons of each style.

Here we will cover a popular customer satisfaction survey methodology called Customer Effort Score (CES). Here we explain what it is, when to use it and its possible advantages and disadvantages.

There is great evidence that the ease of an experience is the best indicator to measure customer loyalty, especially when compared to customer satisfaction. After all, the ease of an experience is the door to loyalty and the latter is the true commercial engine in an increasingly competitive landscape.

This is why CES is a popular methodology employed by customer success teams everywhere.

Instead of asking how satisfied the customer is, they are asked to rate the ease of their experience.

Customer Effort Score became popular in 2010 with the publication of an HBR article titled “Stop Trying to Please Your Customers.”

The article is enlightening, both for the quality and depth of the research and for the finding that runs counter to common sense: the easiest way to increase customer loyalty is not to “wow customers,” but rather to make it easier for them. get your job done.

This quote sums it up well: “When it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily.”

In fact, the study cited in the article found little correlation between satisfaction and loyalty, which begs the question: why measure satisfaction if it doesn’t predict retention and increases lifetime value?

However, there is obviously some academic disagreement on the predictive validity of different survey methodologies; But in this case, the research looks solid and continues to gain support.

For this reason, despite the debate, ease of experience is also important and is often referred to primarily as procedural fluency or processing fluency, a well-studied psychological issue.

Now, so that you know how to use this parameter, we list below the type of situations in which you can take advantage of it more.

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When to use the Customer Effort Score?

  1. Immediately after an interaction with a product that generated a purchase or subscription.
  2. Immediately after an interaction with customer service.
  3. To measure the additional experience someone has with your brand or product in general.

1. Immediately after an interaction with a product that generated a purchase or subscription

The most common use case for CES surveys is immediately after a customer service point of contact or use of a product or service (such as signing up for a trial).

In that way, CES is great for collecting feedback in real time.

CES differs from Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSATs), which generally collect information about your customers’ satisfaction with your business, as well as specific touch points. According to Friedenthal, “This means that you can use CSAT surveys at a variety of times, changing the topic you are asking about, while CES surveys should address a specific customer-driven event or circumstance.”

Keep in mind that the wording of the CES survey may vary depending on the context, but the common thread is its immediacy. Spencer Lanoue notes on the UserTesting blog that it is “typically measured by sending customers an automated post-intention survey, asking them to rate a specific statement on a defined scale, based on the interaction they just completed.”

2. Immediately after a customer service interaction

Most companies use Customer Effort Score surveys immediately after a customer service point of contact (for example, after an email support ticket has been resolved) or perhaps even after reading an article from the knowledge base (to determine how effective it was in solving the problem).

But Andrew Friedenthal, a content analyst at Software Advice, notes that there are still many questions about when to use Customer Effort Score surveys, as it is still a relatively new customer feedback metric.

“Because CES specifically asks customers to rate the level of effort they put into resolving a problem or conflict, there is no point in sending a CES survey at regular intervals.”

Instead, it says it’s best to send CES surveys only after specific service touch points or the resolution of particular issues. “CES surveys should be sent to customers who have needed to contact your organization to solve problems immediately after you solved them, so that you can find out how much effort it took them to contact you to find a solution.”

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For a customer support interaction, for example, you might ask, “How much effort did it take you personally to solve your problem?” Ask them to rate the interaction on a scale from “very little effort” to “a lot of effort.”

3. To measure the additional experience someone has with your brand or product in general

CES can also be used to measure the additional experience someone has with your brand, but because the question involves discrete and isolated user experience, it is most often used to measure product or service level issues.

An interesting aspect of the Customer Effort Score is its usage overlap between both customer and product success teams. Here’s how Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré put it in a Wootric blog post: “Product teams are starting to use CES to get feedback on how well the UI supports adoption of new features and identify times when customers they begin to feel frustrated and lost.

This runs counter to something like the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which asks a broader and more fluid question: “How likely are you to recommend (company) to a friend?”

This is why NPS may be more useful at segmenting customers into different groups for various successful initiatives, and CES may be better at uncovering bottlenecks in the customer’s own experience.

These situations present excellent opportunities to capture the Customer Effort Score. And, once you get them, you will need to sort them based on positive and negative reviews. Not sure how to tell the difference? We will talk about what a good CES is and what to do with each type of response.

What is a good Customer Effort Score?

There is no definitive industry standard for the Customer Effort Score. However, the CES score is recorded on a numerical scale, so a higher score would represent a better user experience. For a standard seven-point scale, responses of five or more would be considered good scores.

Positive Customer Effort Score scores indicate that your product or service is easy to use and well designed. This will set a standard that product management teams must meet when updating or developing a new product. Marketing and sales teams can also use these scores as a differentiator when attracting and engaging potential customers.

Negative responses alert product management and customer service teams to bottlenecks in the customer experience. If possible, you should follow up with these customers to learn more about their interaction. This will give you valuable feedback and could prevent attrition.

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The Customer Effort Score provides your company with information on product usability and customer satisfaction. But before implementing your first CES survey, you should know the advantages and limitations of this metric.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Customer Effort Score

As with any data collection methodology, there are advantages and disadvantages to CES. Here are the most important ones.

The most important advantage or pro is the predictive power of CES with respect to customer loyalty. For its part, the most important counter or disadvantage is related to the lack of segmentation capacity and the lack of information on the general perception of the client’s brand.

Example of using the Customer Effort Score

It is a flexible tool to use due to its simplicity and its overlap with use cases for product and customer success teams. Sujan Patel, founder of Mailshake, uses CES and likes this type of survey for the same reason that he likes NPS: “It’s short and simple; therefore, you are likely to get a response from customers. ‘

Your team uses it in Mailshake and it has provided them with a great deal of valuable information, particularly because:

  • It signals if something is seriously wrong (that is, a large percentage of respondents say that we do not make it easy to handle their problem).
  • It gives the opportunity to manually intervene with clients who are very unhappy with their experience before they leave or publicly complain.
  • It acts as a long-term metric that we follow over time and actively seek to improve.

Our recommendation here at HubSpot? Use more than one type of survey to answer different business questions. It is no good thinking that there is one question to use all the time under any circumstance and CES is one of the many questions you can ask customers to get a complete picture of your customer feedback.

Jerry Gordon

About Jerry Gordon

Webmaster, nature and tech lover. Jerry manages the day-to-day operations at DigiToolsadvisor. He loves enjoying his free time, but most of all, trying new tools to master.