The customer expectation bar is always rising. To maintain or increase your competitive advantage you need to understand how hard or easy it is for your customers to do business with you. The degree of ease greatly impacts their perception of the overall customer experience and impacts customer satisfaction, retention, and referral rates. One way to measure this is with a customer effort score (CES). CES measures the degree of ease of customer interactions. 

30 Second Summary of this article. 

1) When it takes too much effort to do business with you at any touchpoint, or on any channel, your customers get frustrated. They move on to one of your competitors.  

2) Developing a customer effort measure for each step in the customer buying journey a

nd tracking it over time enables you to find and fix breakpoints, ultimately improving CX.  

3) You’re only 4 steps away from creating a customer effort measure and score.  

In this post, we’ll examine what a CES is, what it measures, and why it is important. Let’s begin with why it’s important. 

Less Customer Effort. Better Customer Experience. Higher Revenue. 

Customer experience (CX) is on every leader’s mind today – from the boardroom to the C-Suite on down. A SuperOffice survey of business professionals found that nearly 46% of respondents rated CX as the top priority for their organization. Why? Because companies that focus on customer experience are better able to recruit, retain and grow the value of more customers, which in turn delivers competitive advantage – higher profits and sustainable growth. 

In fact, a Dimension Data Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report revealed that good customer experience can increase revenue by as much as 84%. What company wouldn’t want that? 

When we talk with customers about this measure, some cite all the CX-related measures they are already tracking and ask why customercustomer effort, customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer retention, marketing measurement, measuring marketing, effectiveness, dashboards, customer loyalty, metrics, measurement, performance management, customer engagement, leading indicators, CX, CES effort needs to be added to the long list. And it’s true, the number of CX-related measures has proliferated over the years. From a few key performance measures (KPIs) such as customer loyalty, customer lifetime value, customer retention, and customer satisfaction, to measures such as the Net Promoter Score, Customer Experience, Customer Engagement, Customer Effort, and more.  

Your CES measure can serve as a leading indicator as to whether the customer experience is an issue and/or your customer satisfaction, retention, and advocacy are in jeopardy.  Customer effort is an effective way to identify and prioritize where customer experience process gaps exist, and how to fill them. 

Others ask whether customer effort is just another name for a net promoter score or another way to measure customer satisfaction.  Maybe these measure the same thing? 

3 Distinct and Reliable Measures to Improve Your CX Competitive Advantage

These three distinct measures are important to track to achieve sustainable and profitable growth. 

  1. Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures your organization’s overall relationship with your customers.
  2. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) measures how happy a customer is with either a specific interaction or their general experience with your company. 
  3. Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how much effort (easy or hard) it takes to interact with your company. 

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So, the answer is yes.  We all need to measure customer effort.  The study of whether someone feels interactions with your organization are easy or difficult falls into the field of cognitive fluency. Research in this area suggests that people are more predisposed toward things that are easy and simple.  Leading indicators are measurable pieces or sets of data that suggest the likelihood of something. In this case, a customer effort score helps us understand the likelihood that someone will take the next step in the buying journey, or make a purchase, or a repeat purchase, or leave a good review.  

The Value of Measuring Customer Effort is Twofold

First, it helps you know whether your prospects and customers find your organization easy or hard to do business with.  That is, how hard or easy it is to find something on your website, to downloading a document, to using the help center, to receiving support, to buying your product or service, to using your product or service, and so on.  By measuring customer effort, you can begin to ascertain the potential breakpoints in your customer experience journey.  

Second, customer effort provides an indicator of how likely customers are to be repeat purchasers, make referrals, give good reviews, etc.  Good reviews and referral rates improve both the number of opportunities in the pipeline and how quickly these opportunities convert to new customers.  

The CES can also be used in conjunction with the NPS or CSAT score or other customer experience metrics, to provide a morecustomer effort, customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer retention, marketing measurement, measuring marketing, effectiveness, dashboards, customer loyalty, metrics, measurement, performance management, customer engagement, leading indicators, CX, CES comprehensive view of the customer experience. For example, a high CES score paired with a low NPS or CSAT score can indicate that while customers are satisfied with the outcome of their interactions, the process was unnecessarily difficult. 

In addition to providing valuable insights, a CES can also serve as a rallying point for improving CX across an organization. By setting a target CES score and regularly monitoring progress towards that goal, companies can work towards creating a more effortless customer experience. 

How to Create a Customer Effort Measure in 4 Steps

The beauty of measuring customer effort is it’s something every company that wants to be customer-centric can easily do and track.  Customer effort is calculated by taking the total number of customers who agree that the particular interaction in the customer buying journey was easy, divided by the total number of responses. In this way, you can capture individual responses as well as multiple responses over time. By using the same question format and scale, you can compare the ease or difficulty of different interactions. 

We can organize the process of creating and using the measure into four steps. 

1. Identify all your customer interactions.  These include, but are not limited to, interaction with your 

  • Website navigation
  • Content downloading 
  • Chat 
  • Call center/support center
  • Online help center 
  • Product/Service 
  • Implementation team 
  • RFP/RRQ/Proposals/Statements of Work/Contracts 
  • Purchasing/Invoicing 
  • Webinar/Event Registration 
  • Meeting/Appointment requests  

2. Use a 10-point scale, and ask customers to answer interaction-specific questions. Frame the question AND the scale the same for every interaction.  For example, “On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being extremely easy and 1 being extremely difficult, how would you rate your effort with”  

  • using our online help center 
  • downloading the documentation for product XXX
  • requesting a meeting

We prefer the scale above because the goal is to achieve a high score around ease, but you can choose to change the direction of the scale, that is 1 being extremely easy and 10 being extremely difficult. What’s important is to be consistent in the scale for every question and every time. 

3. Define all the ways you will deploy the question and when.  Remember, the question is specific to the interaction. This meanscustomer effort, customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer retention, marketing measurement, measuring marketing, effectiveness, dashboards, customer loyalty, metrics, measurement, performance management, customer engagement, leading indicators, CX, CES only one question about effort is presented to the visitor/prospect and it needs to be as close to the time of the interaction as possible.  Therefore, the question about the online help center must be posed as they exit the help center.  If the interaction was with the chat, then the question needs to be posed before the chat box is exited.  It is certainly ok to inform people that you want to make things easier and therefore please consider answering the one question that will be posed when they complete the interaction. Keep the question focused on the effort.   

4. Calculate and track the CES.  You can see an individual score and over time as you collect more responses for every interaction, you can capture a score for an interaction AND compare how interactions stack up against each other.  Interactions with low scores, 6 or less, indicate that the interaction is hard/difficult and takes a lot of effort. These interactions often become critical breakpoints in the customer experience that result in customer defection and churn. Interactions with low scores often suggest there is a process issue or gap.  It’s hard for smaller organizations to tackle processes, this helps every company prioritize processes that will have the greatest impact on making doing business with you easier. 

Convinced that you need to create and track your CES to reap the financial benefits of improved CX and have a few questions on the 4 steps? Let’s connect with a free (no strings attached) 30-minute call.

Add a New Customer Experience Leading Indicator to Your Dashboard

Because your customer effort score is a valuable leading indicator measure, it is worthy of including on your organization’s performance management dashboard. It belongs at the lower end of the measurement logic chain and should be integrated into chains that connect customer interactions to customer-centric outcomes. 

A potential chain might include the following links: customer effort, customer engagement, customer acquisition rate; or customer effort, customer satisfaction, customer retention rate, customer share of wallet, customer lifetime value; or customer effort, customer satisfaction, customer advocacy/referral rate, customer lifetime value. Once you have clarity around the chain, you’ll be able to use your customer effort measure as an early signal for customer measures between it and measures along the chain.  For example, if your customer effort measure reflects interactions are hard, it is very likely that your overall customer satisfaction and experience and customer retention rates will decline.  

customer effort, customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer retention, marketing measurement, measuring marketing, effectiveness, dashboards, customer loyalty, metrics, measurement, performance management, customer engagement, leading indicators, CX, CESCreating a customer effort score can be a valuable tool for measuring and improving customer experience. CES is a measure that assesses the level of effort required for customers to complete a task or resolve an issue with your company. It serves as a meaningful leading indicator of customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. 

If CX is important to your organization, create and track customer effort as a way to evaluate and improve it. By measuring the effort required by customers to complete a task or resolve an issue, your organization can gain valuable insights into areas where you can make improvements and create a more effortless experience for your customers. 

Maybe as you consider adding this measure to your dashboard, it reminds you that your existing dashboard could be improved. We have helped many companies modify their dashboard to gain better insights for decision-making, risk mitigation, trend spotting, and opportunity identification. Here’s what one company had to say: 

“The VisionEdge Marketing process helped us develop and set metrics to create a dashboard, while taking into account our culture and the need for change management.”Cindy Lieberman, Director – Zebra Technologies

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