Customer effort score (CES)

Definition

A Customer Effort Score (CES) survey is used to gauge how easy or difficult it is for a customer to interact with a business along the path to purchase, for instance, or with one of its products or services.

Measured using a single-question with a five- or seven-point scale ranging from very easy to very difficult (with a neutral choice in the middle) Customer Effort Score surveys can be sent immediately after any customer engagement, whether it’s searching on a company’s website or following a call to the contact center.

A company’s Customer Effort Score is calculated by dividing the sum of all scores given by the number of customers who completed the survey. The lower the resulting number, the better your CES.

Since 2010, Customer Effort Score has gained in importance as a means of rating customer experience as studies show a correlation between effort and loyalty. The less effort a customer needs to exert in order to achieve an outcome, the more likely he or she is to remain loyal to a brand. What’s more, higher loyalty rates usually translate into higher brand advocacy rates and effort is a good benchmark for identifying and removing points of friction on the customer journey.

However, while attaining a low Customer Effort Score should be a goal for any customer-facing organization, CES should be used in conjunction with other metrics such as Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) for the fullest picture possible.