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Customer Effort Score (CES)

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In a world where Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction are paramount, the Customer Effort Score (CES) emerges as a beacon guiding organizations to optimize their interactions.

This article is centered around one of the most impactful Customer Experience metrics. the Customer Effort Score.  CES plays a role in understanding the ease of customer interactions, thereby shaping customers’ loyalty and advocacy.

There are 3 usages of CES categorized into 3 cases:

  • Case 1: Immediately after a Purchase or Subscription Interaction
  • Case 2: Post-Service Interaction Assessment
  • Case 3: Supplementing Product Teams’ UI/UX Testing

The CES is a straightforward metric that asks customers to rate the ease of interacting with a company on a scale from “very easy” to “very difficult” through a CES Likert Scale. This metric is based on the principle that customer loyalty increases when products and services are easily accessible. CES is valued for its simplicity, quick evaluation, and adaptability across various service channels, making it highly relevant for measuring business outcomes and providing actionable insights.

The CES was developed in 2010 from research by CEB, which demonstrated that reducing customer effort in resolving issues significantly enhances loyalty more than merely delighting them. In contrast, high-effort interactions tend lead to disloyal customers.

Some high-effort experiences that lead to customer disloyalty includes:

  1. Switching channels
  2. Repetitive interactions
  3. Impersonal service

Understanding Customer Experience and Loyalty includes recognition that the CES is just one piece of the puzzle. To complete this puzzle, it is essential to utilize CES in tandem with other pivotal metrics such as:

  1. Customer Effort Score (CES): CES provides a window into the ease of customer interactions, highlighting areas where effort could be streamlined. Best used to gauge the effort required for issue resolution, product engagement, or service interaction.
  2. Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS measures long-term loyalty, gauging which customers could become brand advocates and which might defect. It offers a broad perspective encompassing product attributes, pricing, brand perception, and overall service.
  3. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): CSAT offers short-term happiness evaluation for specific interactions or touchpoints. It’s versatile and valuable for capturing immediate reactions but lacks depth in measuring long-term loyalty.

In this article, we will focus on the CES. As mentioned, CES plays a role in understanding the ease of customer interactions and has distinct usages categorized into 3 cases. Let’s have an overview of the first case.

Case 1: Immediately Post Transaction

Immediate Post Transaction focuses on harnessing CES’s capabilities immediately after a transaction, offering a window into the customer’s journey from consideration to conversion. Some of its benefits include:

  • Transaction Simplicity. Evaluate the customer’s perception of transaction ease, highlighting potential friction points.
  • Purchase Decision Support. Gauge the effort required to navigate through product options, influencing the customer’s purchase decision.
  • Seamless Experience. Identify areas where simplification can enhance the overall purchasing journey.
  • Real-time Feedback. Obtain immediate insights to refine transactional processes promptly.

Deploying CES surveys in the aftermath of a transaction facilitates real-time feedback on the ease of purchase.  This data offers a glimpse into the effort customers invest when making decisions, ensuring a seamless experience for each transaction.

Moreover, the successful deployment and implementation of a CES survey hinges on crafting questions that extract valuable insights. These questions should be succinct, clear, and aligned with specific interactions. We can gather data of our Customers’ Effort Levels through the Likert Scale then process the data using the CES formula to calculate for the CES.

Interested in learning more about Customer Effort Score and its metrics, formula, and calculations? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Customer Effort Score (CES) here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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