Customer Effort Score: The New Experience Metric


James Tschikov

November 13, 2018

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Brands are battling to provide superior experiences across channels to win over customers, but are too many focusing on the wrong metrics?

While many companies focus on scores such as Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS), they’re overlooking a more important metric that is more intricate. That is the Customer Effort Score (CES). CES directly correlates to both CSAT and NPS and companies that want to get ahead are increasingly using CES to measure customer experiences, learn from their customers, and discover opportunities for improvement.

What is the Customer Effort Score?

CES is a type of customer satisfaction survey that measures the ease of an experience with a brand. It can be one simple question survey asking the customer how difficult it was to accomplish what they wanted during their most recent interaction. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a purchase. It can be finding the product or service on your website, contact information, or shipping and returns policy.

The Evolving Digital Experience

Brands are in a race to incorporate the most engaging and exciting technology into the customer experience. Increasingly, brands are using tech like AI and chatbots to improve efficiency and create more personalized experiences for customers. This is largely a good thing. But looking forward, brands can’t ignore a critical component: The human element.


In our latest report, In the Age of Automation, Customers Want More Human, Less Machine, we discuss the evolving ways that customers are interacting with brands online. We surveyed 1,000 customers across generations to understand how brands are striking the balance between human and machine, and what customers expect going forward. The report revealed that, despite misconceptions of robots taking over, consumers still trust humans to help solve more complex problems and make experiences — whether shopping at a retailer, filling a prescription or making a bank deposit — more enjoyable.

That’s where CES comes in. Whether it is an interaction with a human customer service representative or an AI chatbot, it is important to gauge the ease of which customers can complete tasks, ask for help, or give feedback on your website. A Voice of Customer solution enables you to build the surveys to ask the right questions at the right time and act to maximize ease of task completion for your users.

How do you measure Customer Effort Score?

The ideal set-up of a CES survey would be to identify the common customer touchpoints that have the largest impact on customer experience. Here are a few ways to measure CES:

  • “ <Company> made it easy for me to __.”

    • Measure on a scale from 1-5 with 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree.

  • “The effort required to do ‘X’ met my expectations.”

    • Measure on a scale from 1-10 with 1 being strongly disagree and 10 being strongly agree.

  • To gain more insights, add an open text field and look for a survey provider that includes screenshot capabilities.


Map the customer journey for these interactions and include customer effort feedback. You will quickly see where areas of high effort are affecting the customer journey. Identify areas of high effort and determine root causes, or the drivers of effort.

The Importance of CES

To validate your processes and ensure that you’re delivering a superior customer experience, it is important to understand how the CES differs in comparison to traditional customer experience metrics. In our report, we analyzed how CES impacts your bottom line. Here’s what we found:

  • A complex interaction decreased both brand impression AND NPS by 267% compared to a simple interaction.

  • The purchase intent for high effort experiences dropped by 518% compared to a simple interaction.

  • 86% of customers experiencing a complex transaction had a less than favorable impression.

  • The top three effort drivers in the digital channel are:

    1. Inconsistent service

    2. Unclear information

    3. Channel switching.


Customer effort matters. Make it easy. Consumers prefer companies that simplify their lives. Enterprises that seek to increase customer loyalty while reducing service and support expense can win on all fronts, but only if they can design, implement and maintain truly low-effort service options. Objective feedback from customers helps enterprises maximize the impact of improvements by focusing on the right priorities.

Learn more about CES in our report and understand how it differs by industry with key indicators: In the Age of Automation, Customers Want More Human, Less Machine

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