What is a good Customer Effort Score (CES)?

good Customer Effort Score (CES)

The Customer Effort Score (CES) helps you track how effortless the interaction between your company and its customers is, at different points across the customer journey. The measurement addresses obstacles related to quality and ease of service and is best suited for customer support environments. The fact that 71% of customers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service begs the question ‘What is a good Customer Effort Score?’. Unfortunately, there is no straight-forward answer. Even though the CES is one of the most reliable indicators of customer satisfaction and loyalty, benchmarking isn’t quite there yet. With that in mind, let’s dig a bit deeper to find the answer.

What is Customer Effort Score (CES)?

In 2010, research conducted by the CEB found that “service organizations create loyal customers primarily by reducing customer effort – i.e. helping them solve their problems quickly and easily – not by delighting them in service interactions”.As a result, the Customer Effort Score (CES), a key performance indicator (KPI), was created to measure how much effort the customer puts into a specific interaction with the company. Ever since its introduction, the CES has been gaining popularity because it places focus on the company’s performance when it comes to handling customer issues.

Based on the premise that reducing customer dissatisfaction yields more positive results than trying to increase customer satisfaction, the CES outperforms other metrics such as the Net Promoter® Score (NPS) or the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) in predicting customer behavior. Studies, however, show that CES and NPS are complementary measures and the scores they produce correlate with each other. The key takeaway here is, that the correlation between NPS and CES means you can utilize the many NPS benchmarking reports to gain some insights on how your CES stacks up. You are, therefore, better off using both measures in the same survey.

How do you measure Customer Effort Score?

There are a few valid ways to measure the Customer Effort Score. Here are the most popular ones:

  • On a scale from 1 to 7 (ranging from “Extremely Difficult” to “Extremely Easy”), ask your customers the following question: How easy was it to fully resolve your issue today?
  • On a scale from 1 to 7 (ranging from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly Agree”), ask your customers to what degree they agree with the following statement: The company made it easy for me to handle my issue.

Based on the responses, you calculate the CES by dividing all the customer effort scores by the number of customers who responded. What you are left with is the average CES.

The different available ways for measuring the CES create additional problems for benchmarking. CEB, the creator of the CES, however, recommends that instead of looking at the average CES you should be looking at the distribution of the scores. Examining the CES against a normal distribution allows you to recognize pain points and detect areas for improvement. “Looking at the distribution to understand areas of opportunity can be far more instructive than just considering how your average CES compares to others in your space.” (Effortless Experience, 160)

What is a good Customer Effort Score?

The bottom line is that it’s very difficult to find a reliable number to benchmark your company’s CES against. As a rule, the lower the average score the better because it reduces the chance of your customers seeking better service from your competitors. Another rule of thumb indicates that, on a scale from 1 to 7, a good individual customer effort score is more than 5. A CES lower than 5 indicates that you need to reconsider customer service practices.

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Keti Limani


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