Why you should measure your Customer Effort Score

by Emily Collins, WRAP Partner and principal at EVC Marketing

With a range of customer satisfaction metrics available, there is one that is often overlooked – the customer effort score.

In a time when customer loyalty is more important than ever, this metric determines one simple question. How much effort do customers have to put in to do business with you?

Too much effort and they’ll tire of dealing with you and jump to another provider at the first suitable opportunity. No matter how satisfied they are with your products and services.

It’s believed that if dealing and interacting with a business is easy and pleasurable, customers are more likely to be loyal and they will return to buy again. Indeed, 94 per cent of customers who reported low effort said they would likely purchase a product again (Harvard Business Review).

In this article we take a look at what’s involved with the Customer Effort Score, what questions to ask and what the scores mean.

1 What is the Customer Effort Score CES?

The Corporate Executive Board, now Gartner, developed the Customer Effort Score (CES) in 2010. Their research showed that effort is a key driver of customer loyalty and wanted a way to measure it.

The concept gained further attention that year with the Harvard Business Review article: “Stop Trying to Delight your Customers”. They argued that exceeding expectations and delighting customers does not build loyalty. Rather, “reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does”.

Then, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, and decrease customer churn thereby increasing the profitability of customer service. CES rates a company on how much effort a customer has to put in when they interact with a company and the customer provides the feedback.

2 Why is the Customer Effort Score important?

Customers want to transact with a business as easily and painlessly as possible. They want issues resolved quickly and professionally. Along with other customer satisfaction scores, understanding and acting on their customer effort score a business will:

  • Improve loyalty
  • Improve the customer experience
  • Limit negative word of mouth
  • Optimize self-service channels
  • Reduce customer service costs

While your customers may be satisfied with your products and services, they may find the effort of dealing with you too much. This reduces their customer loyalty and they might choose your competitor in the future.

Indeed, subsequent research* found that 96 percent of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal. Compare this to just nine percent who have a low-effort experience. High effort is simply how much a customer requires interaction before receiving a solution.

*The Effortless Experience by Matthew Dixon and Nick Toman.

3 What question/s should be asked?

Measuring your Customer Effort Score is achieved by asking a simple question:

“Company” made it easy for me to handle my issue/complete my purchase/find the solution

This is answered with a disagree-agree scale from 1-7. This can then be tracked over time so businesses can implement and monitor changes to their processes.

Alternatively, you can ask a standard rating question such as:

How would you rate the service you received today?

These questions should be followed up with open-ended feedback that highlights areas a business needs to focus on.

Tell us a bit more about why you chose 4 from the scale

Would you like to share any additional feedback?

4 How is the Customer Effort Score calculated?

The Customer Effort Score ranges from 0-100. Your CES is the total number of customers who agree that their interaction was easy divided by the total number of responses. For example, if 65 customers out of 100 gave you a rating of 4 or 5, your CES would be 65, which on the 7 point scale is wonderful.

5 What activities affect the Customer Effort Score?

There are lots of business processes that will increase the effort it takes for a customer to interact with you. These include:

  • Not being able to find a contact number or email address
  • Having to re-explain a problem time and again
  • Switching from a customer’s preferred contact method to another to suit the business
  • Transferring to another employee
  • Constantly contacting the company about the same problem
  • Multiple clicks to complete an online purchase
  • Not finding the information needed on a website built for design rather than practicality
  • Not having device recognition
  • Anything that is perceived as inconvenient

These experiences generate customer frustration and increased churn. This is because companies develop procedures that fit their requirements rather than the needs to their customers.

6 When should business use the Customer Effort Score metric?

The CES should be used alongside your Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Score surveys as part of your customer service. Whenever there is a touch point with a client, you should find out how it was for them. For example after:

  • Interaction with customer service
  • Completed or abandoned sale
  • Visit to the website
  • Service sign-up
  • Online or any other purchase vehicle
  • Meetings or consultations
  • Changes to established processes

CustomerCount® encourages all of its clients to ask that one question. We have found different anomalies when looking at reports with our clients, notably a difference between Net Promoter Score and the Customer Effort Score.

The NPS can be very high, while the CES can be lower. Keep in mind the NPS is your global predictor of loyalty and revenue, while the CES is transactional.

It is our pleasure to show you the difference. Give us a call today on: 317-816-6000.

About CustomerCount

CustomerCount is a feature-rich, cloud-based survey solution providing intuitive real-time reporting, fast turnaround on requested updates, and detailed and dynamic data gathering capabilities to support process improvement efforts, build customer loyalty and improve your bottom line.

Developed and managed by Mobius Vendor Partners, CustomerCount was initially designed for the timeshare and contact center industries and is now used by organizations across numerous different vertical markets and industries.  For more information call Bob Kobek, president, on 317-816-6000 and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

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