The Customer Effort Score (CES) is a very good instrument to measure customer loyalty. What CES is and how you can measure it, we’ll explain in this blog.

CES in customer service 

One of the most widely used methods for loyalty research is to ask the ‘recommendation question’, which results in the Net Promoter Score. But, next to the intention to recommend, there are more interesting aspects that impact customer loyalty. One of these aspects is the matter of ease that is measured with the Customer Effort Score. 

What is CES (Customer Effort Score)?

CES stands for Customer Effort Score. This very handy measuring instrument is invented by three people: Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman and Nicholas Toman from The Corporate Executive Board. The Customer Effort Score is a customer centric KPI and has to do with resolving your customers’ problems. And that is obviously what you are interested in.

Why is Customer Effort Score important? 

Some organizations only focus on a great price, an excellent product or an outstanding service. But they overlooking one crucial point: ease.

Customers are not necessarily loyal because they received an outstanding service rather than a standard service. Of much more impact is the ease with which they can access this service. As little hassle as possible, that is what makes the customer happy.

Customer Effort Score question

The CES tells you how your client experiences the customer service you deliver. The main issue in the CES score, is how easy you can make your customers’ experience when they have a question or a complaint.

Customers don’t want to put much effort into having a question answered or a problem solved. Respondents answer the following question:

‘How much effort did you put in to get helped / to get an answer to your question / to have your problem solved?’

Respondents answer by assigning a score between 1 and 5 (or between 1 and 7). In this 5 points scale 1 is ‘a lot of effort’ and 5 is ‘very little effort’. CES is expressed in a number and shows how much effort the customer feels he must put in to be served.


How to calculate the Customer Effort Score (CES)?

For the calculation of the Customer Effort score you take the percentage of (very) little effort customers (4 and 5) and you deduct the percentage of (very) much effort customers (1 and 2) from them. 

The result is shown as an absolute score, so not as a percentage, which falls in the range from -100 to +100. In short, a high CES score shows that customers feel they did not have to go through a lot of trouble to be served.

Example Customer Effort Score calculation 

You have conducted the Customer Effort Research with your customers and you have 1000 responses. They can be divided in the following groups: 

  • 680 out of 1000 (68%) of the responses are a 4 or 5
  • 120 out of 1000 (12%) of the responses are a 3 
  • 200 out of 1000 (20%) of the responses are a 1 or 2 

You now take the percentage of (very) little effort customers (68%) and you deduct the percentage of (very) much effort customers (20%). This leads to an Customer Effort Score of +48. 

Some advantages and disadvantage of using CES

The CES method is straightforward and it takes your customers little effort (!) to fill in the questionnaire. CES has a high predictive value for customer loyalty. The outcome of the method is understandable and insightful and any developments are easy to interpret. And it’s easy to combine CES with other KPI’s like Net Promoter Score (NPS) or CSAT.

But there is a little disadvantage of using CES. The word ‘effort’ is not always clear for everyone and used differently around the world. But if you can make your question very clear to your respondents, we don’t see any obstacles for using the Customer Effort Score.

How to measure Customer Effort at various touch points

The CES can be used to measure various ‘contact moments’. In each step you can see what the customer thinks about the contact. The harder it was for them to get an answer, the worse their customer experience.

If this is measured periodically, or even better continuously, then the values can be compared to earlier periods. In the end, sales is about making contact between the sales person and the customer. CES reveals those contact moments relentlessly. It is up to you to manage upon this.

How to improve CES with CYS

With our software you can not only measure, but also improve CES. Creating your own questionnaire is very easy with the intuitive questionnaire builder

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Download 'Measuring and Managing CX'

Do you want to know more about the Customer Effort Score (CES) and how to apply it in your organization? Download the free e-book 'Measuring and Managing Customer Experience’.

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