Gainsight Glossary

Customer Effort Score

What is the Customer Effort Score?

A Customer Effort Score (CES) is a customer survey used to measure the amount of effort that a customer felt they expended in order to use your platform or a specific feature or module. The customer selects their perceived level of effort based on a Likert scale of 1 (high) – 7 (low).

While it seems obvious and quite simple, making it easier for your customers to use your product can actually take more work than you think. Fortunately, the payoffs can be very meaningful.

In fact, according to CEB, who first coined the CES term, “Ninety-six percent of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience.”

As you can imagine, those with a higher level of effort are less likely to remain a customer, let alone be an advocate for your brand. On the other hand, those customers have an easier time understanding and using your platform, which can lead to less overall customer service costs, higher loyalty and lower chances for churn.

Why is the Customer Effort Score important?

Averaging together all of the CES results or those from a segment of your customer base can provide plenty of insight into how your customers feel overall about your support, services and products. When tracked over time, your company can see how changes to your customer success methods, training or even feature upgrades or rollouts are impacting your score.

According to one CEB study, moving a customer from a 1 (low) to a 5 can increase their overall loyalty to your brand by 22%. (Interestingly, increasing the score from 5 to 7 — the highest mark — only resulted in a 2% uptick in loyalty.) Results like these can demonstrate that CES survey results below 5 can be further dissected to figure out the potential root of the problem. However, every industry will have its own customer effort score benchmark that can be used to help monitor your performance.

For example, as a potential mitigation, you can increase the number and types of feedback and contact channels available, providing additional ways for customers to choose the method that works best for them. Alternatively, you can explore more self-service tools to empower your customers to solve problems in the moment, while they also learn more about the functionality of your platform and reduce the burden on your customer service staff. Finally, when combined with other metrics, such as user experience, changes to the layout or content of your product or service can be made to make the interaction more intuitive.

How can I begin to implement Customer Effort Score surveys?

Just like the Net Promoter Score survey, the customer effort score is meant to be a quick and easy pulse check for your users to share their thoughts on how intuitive and easy it is to use your platform.

Therefore, your CES survey should be designed to be deployed across all of the various delivery platforms your service provides, through browsers, applications and mobile devices. Next, set the right automated triggers for your CES survey to launch, such as after completing a sale, contacting customer service or using a feature for the first time. Finally, make the question, the available answer options and the form itself clear and easy to understand, free of extraneous branding and text that can disrupt the user.

The results of the CES survey should be woven in with other customer experience metrics to help tell a more holistic story of the user experience and their thoughts on using your product. This is where a customer success or product experience platform can help in organizing the data, monitoring for trends and allowing for custom views and reports to be generated for decision-makers to digest.

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