Customer Effort Score (CES)

The easier you make your business to deal with, the more likely your customers will return. Use customer effort surveys to measure how you’re doing.

For today’s modern consumer, reduced customer effort is a key driver of satisfaction and loyalty. It’s why we’ve witnessed the emergence of the customer effort survey (CES), which is based on the idea that the easier you make your business to deal with, the more likely your customers will be to return.

More general customer surveys are not sufficient to measure customer effort, you need a specialist customer effort score questionnaire that asks your customers to rate the experiences they’ve had with your business, products or service from ’very easy’ to ’very difficult’. It’s for this reason that the customer effort score survey has become an increasingly popular methodology employed by customer success teams.

Before getting started with your CES survey, it’s worth conducting a customer effort audit, of all your communication channels with customers, so you can examine where your customers appear to be expending the greatest effort. You can then use this information to guide the direction of your survey questions and help maximise the value you can obtain through your survey.

Customer effort survey software

With the right customer effort survey software in place you can effectively measure and reduce the effort required by customers when they interact with your business across any of your touchpoints, helping to improve their overall satisfaction and loyalty with your brand.

This can be achieved through a few simple steps:

  • Quickly create a CES survey with access to a wide range of ready-made survey templates, questions types and advanced logic, with options to customise your survey to meet any touchpoint requirements.
  • Easily distribute your CES survey through a range of channels from email, web and SMS, with options to integrate with your service, support and ticketing systems, so surveys can be triggered immediately following a customer interaction.
  • Analyse and evaluate CES feedback historically or in real-time with advanced reporting and analysis tools, that help you spot trends and compare CES across different locations, so you can see where you need to improve.
  • Quickly measure and calculate your CES score, through custom variables and tracking links that allow you to collect data from different interactions and locations.

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Customer effort questions

The customer effort survey questions that you ask are an essential part of your CES survey and will be critical in helping you assess how easily customers are interacting with your brand across all your touchpoints. So, if you’re going to get the greatest value from your CES survey, you’ll need to think carefully about the questions you choose to use.

To help you, we’ve outlined some customer effort score sample questions below, which you can potentially ask in a range of different scenarios:

For customers who had just navigated and then completed a service or support call with an operator at a large call centre, good examples of customer effort score survey questions could include:

How easy did you find our call software to navigate and get through to the department that you needed?

On a scale of 1 to 5, what level of effort was required on your part to get your issue resolved with our support operator?

Similarly, customer effort score questions can be extremely valuable when you’re trying to assess how easy it is for customers to navigate, obtain information from or interact with any applications on your website. Sample customer effort questions could include:

How easy did you find our website to navigate and obtain any information you were looking for from our site?

How much do you agree with the following statement: Through your live-chat application, I was able to resolve my issue easily?

In some situations, you could even follow up your customer effort score question example with an open-ended question. This could allow you to obtain a bit more detailed information about why customers chose to score you in the way that they did, or even provide suggestions about ways in which you might improve. This could be triggered by the following sequence:

To what extent do you agree with the following statement: ’Our app is really easy to use

For those that disagreed, you could follow this up with:

If we could do anything – what do you believe we could do to make this app easier to use?

Customer effort score example

Like any other customer survey method, it’s useful to know when and in what situations you’ll be able to gain the greatest value from a deploying customer effort survey. So, looking at some customer effort survey examples before you get started can be a very useful exercise.

We’ve outlined three customer effort score examples to help guide you with this below:

1) Following a purchase:

We’ve all had experiences of shopping online and having to navigate the shopping cart in order to facilitate the purchase of a product or service, which can require more effort on some retailer’s websites than others.

Consequently, sending a CES survey directly after a customer has made a purchase on your website, is a great way of finding out how easy or challenging your own e-commerce operations is.

2) Following a subscription sign-up:

A CES survey can also be very helpful after a customer has signed up for a digital subscription service and you’re trying to gauge how easy they are finding your services to use.

Rather than survey them immediately, you could set up a pop-up page survey to appear two weeks after they’ve signed up, to give them time to try out the key features and then investigate how easy they are finding it to use.

3) Following a customer service touchpoint:

Customers that experience frustrating or unhelpful customer service interactions are more likely to take their business elsewhere, so a CES survey can be a great way of finding out if the experience your customers are receiving is effortless or difficult.

By integrating your survey software with your ticketing support system, you can set up surveys to be automatically triggered after a customer has closed a support ticket, whether that’s via a phone call, email or live chat.

How to measure customer effort

Having issued your CES survey and gathered feedback from all your customer touchpoints, you’ll want to know how to measure customer effort, so you can better understand how easy or difficult your customers are finding these interactions. This is where the value of the customer effort score (CES) metric comes in. Also, referred to as a customer experience metric, the customer effort score is the final piece of your survey, which measures how easy it is for customers to do business with you.

Calculating customer effort score

When it comes to working out your customer effort score calculation there are two main methods used by businesses.

On a scale of 1 to 5

Based on the original CES calculation scale proposed by the creators of this metric in 2010, customers are asked to answer the question “On a scale of 1 to 5, how much effort did you have to expend to handle your issue?

1 = Very low effort
2 = Low effort
3 = Neutral
4 = High effort
5 = Very high effort

The CES is derived by dividing the sum of all individual customer effort scores by the number of customers who provided a response. This method results in a score from 1 to 5 – the lower the score, the better, as businesses that can build a low effort customer experience are more likely to gain more loyal customers long term. See our CES calculator for an example of the 5-point scale in use.

On a scale of 1 to 7

The second ces customer effort score calculation, to recently emerge uses a wider range of scale numbering, with slightly different wording, moving away from the original CES customer effort and focusing more on customer ease. Under this method customers are typically asked “On a scale of 1 to 7, how easy was it to get your issue resolved?”

1 = Extremely easy
2 = Very easy
3 = Fairly easy
4 = Neither
5 = Fairly difficult
6 = Very difficult
7 = Extremely difficult

Once again, the CES will be calculated by dividing the sum of all individual customer effort scores by the number of customers who provided a response. And the lower the score, the better.

Customer effort score survey benefits

The business benefits of running customer effort surveys and using the insight to lower your customer effort score are wide-ranging.

Some of the key advantages include:

Improvements in service:

When you’re able to better understand how easy or difficult it is for customers to interact with your service and support teams, you’re better able to make the changes you need to improve your service.

Improves customer satisfaction and loyalty:

When you’re using customer effort surveys to reduce the amount of effort required across all your customer touchpoints, your overall customer satisfaction and loyalty rates will begin to improve.

Helps lower your costs:

From multiple choice to free text, Likert scales to NPS, ranking to slider scales. Everything customisable in many ways

Repurchase rates increase:

From skip logic to page randomisation, piping to pre-population, email triggers to scoring. Use our powerful features to create professional online surveys.

Customer effort templates

By giving you a head start on the structure and types of questions you should be asking, templates can help save you a lot of time and effort. Consider using a fully customisable customer effort survey template.

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