Asking your customers how easy or difficult they found using your product or service is one of the most important things you can do. The amount of effort required to use your product or service often determines whether a customer will return to you. That's why it's so important to track your Customer Effort Score (CES).

Customer Effort Score is a metric used to gauge how easy it is for customers to use your product or service. It is traditionally scored on a seven-point scale, from Very Difficult (1) to Very Easy (7). Customers are asked a simple question like, "On a scale of 1 (Very Difficult) to 7 (Very Easy), how difficult was it to use our product?"

The Customer Effort Score is different from other common customer feedback metrics, like Customer Satisfaction and the Net Promoter Score, in that it seeks to measure a specific component of a product or service, rather than a customer's overall sentiment.

However, CES results are often found to be better predictors of customer loyalty and retention than the Customer Satisfaction score and Net Promoter Score. In many cases, the Customer Effort Score is a better metric for a customer's overall sentiment, even though it asks an extremely specific question. This is why so many companies love including the CES in their customer feedback surveys.

Calculating the Customer Effort Score

You can calculate the score by simply taking the mean or median of your responses. The distribution of effort scores can be used to identify clusters among the respondents. If the median score is high but you had a cluster of customers respond with “Very Difficult,” then it is worth finding out why some customers are having such a hard time. They could potentially be experiencing a bug or there has been some form of misunderstanding.

When is the best time to survey

The perfect time to prompt your customers for a Customer Effort Score is directly after they’ve used your product or service. The experience will still be fresh in their minds and they will be able to answer most accurately. It is also useful to prompt a Customer Effort Score after they seek customer support. That way you can measure how effective the support was. Collect Customer Effort Scores often and consistently to track how the scores change over time.

Benefits and Shortcomings

Benefits of Customer Effort Score  Shortcomings of CES
Often a better predictor of future customer behavior than NPS and CSAT It does not explain why customers are finding the experience easy or difficult
An accurate measure of an important aspect of your product or service It does not compare the ease of use of competitor products and services
Highly used and commonly accepted customer feedback metric It does not measure the complete customer relationship with your company or product/service

How to Improve your Customer Effort Score

Once you’ve started tracking your score, it’s time to start looking for ways to improve it. Here are some things to consider:

  • Focus on negative feedback: Customers that rated their experience “very difficult” are most at risk of churn. Their problems may have a very simple solution that could quickly change their response to “very easy.”
  • Ask open-ended questions in your surveys: Start asking “why” questions and find out the specific parts of the user journey that they are finding difficult.
  • Make improving Customer Effort Score a key priority: By placing the score at the center of your customer-relationship strategy, you have a reliable metric to track progress.

Find out why customer feedback is so important.