Want loyalty from customers? Make interactions with your business easy and convenient. The Customer Effort Score shows you where to focus.

Customer Effort Score (CES): The Effortless Experience KPI

It’s no secret that bad customer service is bad for business.

According to a Genesys survey, more than 70% of consumers in the United States have ended a relationship due to poor customer service, with over 60% taking their business to a competitor. For the U.S. cable/satellite industry alone, this meant more than $12 billion in lost revenue over the course of a year.

The takeaway? If you want loyalty from customers, don’t make them work hard or struggle for assistance. Every interaction they have with your business or product should be easy and convenient.

That’s the premise behind the Customer Effort Score (CES), a key performance indicator (KPI) that measures how much effort your customers put into getting an issue resolved or obtaining a service your business offers.

First introduced in 2010 by CEB, the CES is rapidly gaining favor over the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a way to gauge customer loyalty. Unlike the NPS, which emphasizes gaining “promotors” to recommend your business to others, the CES focuses on creating an “effortless experience” for customers.

The CES was mentioned by Dominique Leroy, CEO of Proximus Group, during the 2015 STIMA conference in Belgium, where she said: “We constantly strive to satisfy our customers, to decrease their effort score. Having to move around in a shop, to queue, just to make a decoder, is not the optimal experience.”

How the CES Performance Indicator is Calculated

While there are several valid methods of measuring customer effort, many leading companies ask the following question after a transaction takes place:

“On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest effort, please indicate the total effort that was required by you to complete your transaction or resolve your issue?”

The responses provide an average Customer Effort Score as follows:

All Customer Effort Scores

———————————- = Customer Effort Score

# of CES Survey Responses

Pros and Cons of the Customer Effort Score

Like all KPIs, the Customer Effort Score has its pros and cons. Much of the “good” data currently comes from CEB (the creator of the CES), which means that it requires more scrutiny, but there are also major corporations singing its praises, with hard numbers to back up their findings.

customer-effort-score-ces-kpi-visionThe Good:

  • According to CEB, the Customer Effort Score outperforms both the NPS and the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) at predicting future spending behavior. Ninety-four percent of customers reporting low effort said they would repurchase, while 88% said they would increase their spending.
  • The CES also does well at predicting which customers are likely to defect, with 81% of customers reporting high effort saying they would speak negatively about the company to others.
  • The CES is considered highly actionable, allowing you to pinpoint weaknesses in different interactions throughout your business.

The Bad:

  • The CES does not examine how factors like your price, product, and competitors may be influencing your customers.
  • Unlike the NPS, the CES works at a transactional level and does not provide information regarding the customer’s overall relationship with your business.
  • The CES is not an appropriate metric for all interactions. A customer may feel they put high effort into trying to obtain something your business cannot offer and thus feel disappointed with the outcome of the interaction. The CES cannot account for such incidents and only rates the effort as “high” without showing you why.

This last point is where Emolytics can help. Our scientifically designed customer feedback tools fully integrate into all of your marketing materials and work in harmony with the CES and other KPIs to capture your customers’ emotions as well as the reasons behind them.

The resultant “Emoscore” provides yet another metric to measure customer experience, allowing you to implement meaningful changes that can impact the future performance of your business. Behind each customer’s evaluation of effort lies an emotion, whether it be joy, irritation, or something else, making the Emoscore a reliable predictor of the CES and providing you with a wider range of insights than just a mere number.

How to Implement the CES as a KPI in your Business


CES to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Is your website difficult to navigate? Is a particular phone rep rude to customers? Small tweaks can make a big difference to customer satisfaction – and your bottom line. One large organization examined by Oracle found that customer satisfaction increased substantially (from 61% to 93%) when customers reported low effort.

CES to Improve Customer Loyalty

The same organization found that lower customer effort also increased customer loyalty (from 69% to 87%) and willingness to recommend (from 51% to 87%).

CES to Empower Employees

When employees are empowered to say “yes” instead of no, customer effort goes down. For this to work effectively, however, changes must often be made throughout an organization to ensure cross-functional support at all levels. For one business studied by Henley Business School, this meant examining everything from the company’s supply chain processes to manufacturing and design.

3 Quick Wins to Turn your CES Survey into a Growth Hack

  • Map it out. Your overall CES may be good, but analyzing it on the micro-level will help identify specific points of friction. Create a map or chart showing where interactions occur with customers; then track customer effort scores for each one.
  • Tie improvements to earnings. It’s not enough to know your customer effort score. Ask why before implementing changes to problem areas. Then find out if the improvements increased revenue for your business.
  • Experiment with emotions. In CEB’s initial study of customer experience, 24% of repeat calls were due to emotional disconnects between customers and phone reps. By tailoring phone responses to the personality types of customers, a UK-based mortgage company reduced repeat calls by 40%. Another company removed negative phrasing from its transcripts, lowering its CES from 2.8 to 2.2.

Get the Full Story with Emolytics

Like all KPIs, the CES provides valuable insights about customer relations, but you won’t know the whole story until you tie all of the pieces together. Emolytics can help you do that by capturing the authentic, real-time emotions of your customers across all channels of your business as they provide open and semi-open feedback.

Ready to get started? Join prominent Emolytics customers like Ethias, and request a free consultation with one of our KPI experts. Or just try our customer feedback tool for free!

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