Customer Effort Score

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What is Customer Effort Score

What is customer effort score?

Your customer effort score (CES) is a metric that helps you understand the level of effort that you are making your customers undergo in order to do business with you. You can find your CES by carrying out a survey that asks customers to rate how easy it is for them to interact or do business with your company.

This metric is not limited to the effort involved in making purchases. It also reflects the effort involved in getting issues resolved, questions answered, products returned, etc.

customer effort score
Source: Babelforce

Why is customer effort score important?

The easier you make it for a customer to do something, the more likely they are to do it. In the Harvard Business Review’s article Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers, they released two critical observations: 

  • Delighting customers does not build customer loyalty, but reducing customer effort does.
  • Acting to reduce customer effort can also improve customer service and reduce customer service costs.

Since CSAT surveys tend to focus on a single interaction, ask your customers questions about particular aspects of that interaction, they are not as good an indicator of churn as your Customer Effort Score. This is because interactions that are highly frustrating and tend to require greater levels of effort tend to occur across multiple channels and are not siloed. These high-effort interactions are a major cause of customer churn. 

Understanding your customer effort score and acting to improve it could help you reduce your level of churn. And you can actually see loyalty rates rise as your customer effort score improves.

What are the benefits of reducing customer effort?

Benefits of reducing customer effort

It’s always useful to make it easier for your customers to do business with you. Here are some of the benefits of reducing customer effort:

Causes of word of mouth

By reducing customer effort, you create a better experience for your customers. The great thing about this is that they’ll want to tell the people in their circles about their experience. This helps you generate positive word of mouth and it even helps you improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS). Companies that have low levels of customer effort tend to have an NPS that’s 65 points higher than those that have higher customer effort.

Encourages repeat purchases

If your customers know that it takes less effort to do business with you, they’ll keep coming back for more. In fact, 94% of customers who experience low-effort customer experiences tend to make repeat purchases, while only 4% of customers who have high-effort customer experiences tend to make repeat purchases.

Reduces costs

Reducing the effort involved in your customer experience could even reduce the costs incurred to create those experiences. Lower-effort interactions tend to cost 37% less than high-effort interactions do. By creating low-effort experiences you can even eliminate 50% of potential escalations, reduce 40% of repeat calls, and lowers channel-switching by 17%, thus reducing costs even further.

Increases loyalty

Customers stay loyal when they realize that they can get what they want with minimum effort. After all, if you’re delivering low-effort experiences, why would they waste their time and energy looking for and another vendor who might not be as easy to do business with as you?

According to Andrew Schumacher, Senior Principal, Advisory, Gartner, “Customer effort is 40% more accurate at predicting customer loyalty as opposed to customer satisfaction”

How is your customer effort score calculated?

To calculate your customer effort score, you would first send a survey to your customers. The survey would ask them to what level they agree with a statement like this: “Company X made it easy for me to handle my issue”

They would respond using a likert scale. Let’s say we are using a 7-point likert scale here, where the responses are.

  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Somewhat disagree
  4. Neutral
  5. Somewhat agree
  6. Agree
  7. Strongly agree

Now, you calculate the percentage of customers who at least somewhat agree with the statement.

So the formula to calculate your customer effort score would be:

(Number of customers who rated you 5, 6, or 7) / (Total number of responses) x 100

How to improve your customer effort score?

Here are the most effective ways to reduce customer effort:


Allow your customers to find answers to their questions on their own, with minimal effort. Create intelligent chatbots that can guide them with this. You would also want to create a blog, a knowledge base and other resources. This reduces the effort involved in trying to get in touch with you. They don’t have to get on calls or even bother writing an email, they can simply find their own answers.

Be proactive

Anticipate issues or questions that might arise and figure out how to tackle them in advance, so that your customers do not need to make the effort to contact your support team.

Don’t force customers to hop across platforms

If your bot can’t answer a complex question, don’t force customers to send an email or get on a phone call. Integrate live chat within your chatbot so that your customers can contact a live agent and get answers over the same channel.

Streamline the checkout process

Reduce the amount of pages that your customers have to navigate through during the checkout process. Amazon’s One-Click ordering was a major reason for their success. Now their patent on it has expired, so you can use that technology to create an easier checkout process for your business.

Reduce wait time

Customers expect to get their issues resolved quickly. Waiting, to them, is a task… and it definitely is a high-effort one. Reducing your wait time by hiring more agents, using chatbots, allowing agents to handle multiple simultaneous conversations via live chat, and routing queries to the right agent the very first time would certainly help you improve your customer effort score.

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