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Customer Effort Score

What is Customer Effort Score (CES)? Definition, Calculation, Applications and Advantages

Aug 5, 2019

4 mins read

Tanuj Diwan

What is Customer Effort Score (CES)?

Customer effort score (CES) is a numeric indicator of positive, neutral or negative customer experience during an interaction with your organization.

The logic behind this metric is that more effort from a customer in solving a problem results in a negative experience. Whereas, if the company can solve the problem for the customer such that they have to input the least amount of effort, then it results in positive customer experience and to improve Net promoter score.

A CES value is assigned based on customer feedback to the CES survey question.

For example, let’s say a customer has an interaction with your customer support/success team and you want to understand how well that went as per customer perception.


A CES survey (discussed below) is deployed to the customer right after the interaction and feedback is collected. NPS Based on the feedback, a score is assigned, which becomes the customer experience score (CES) outcome from that specific interaction.

Customer Effort Score (CES) calculation

The source of data for the customer experience score is derived from the response option selected by the customer in the CES survey.

CES survey question has undergone standard updates over the years and the latest question and answer options are as follows:

Q. The company made it easy for me to handle my issue:

Answer Options with values assigned:

Score 1 – Strongly Disagree
Score 2 – Disagree
Score 3 – Somewhat Disagree
Score 4 – Neither Agree nor Disagree
Score 5 – Somewhat Agree
Score 6 – Agree
Score 7 – Strongly Agree

Scores 1-3 are classified as “difficult”.
Score 4 is classified as ‘neutral’
Scores 5-7 are classified as “easy”.

Based on the responses, an average is calculated which becomes your CES.

Strategic CES implications for an organization

Customer effort score surveys can be strategically deployed using smart survey Net Promoter Score Analysis software to capture the critical success or failure indicators of your customer-facing teams:

1. Post-call: A post customer support call survey is a great place to begin implementing your CES survey. An email survey typically works best, but IVR and SMS have also shown good promises.
2. Web support: The best mode of feedback is the mode that the customer used for interaction. If your customer is online, so should be your feedback survey. A web-intercept survey or a post-session email will give you better response rates on the web. A follow-up call/reminder to the customer never hurts.
3. Kiosk: If you have a physical outlet where the majority of your customers visit for support or help, then the best mode of CES survey deployment will be an active live, physical Kiosk survey, mounted on a tablet. Customer can provide immediate and live feedback based on the interaction they had at the time with your store/outlet staff.

Advantages of CES

Here are some of the key advantages drawn from the strategic implementation of CES:

Deliver high on low:

CES is one of the best measurements of customer experience and satisfaction, mapped across various points of interaction with your company. This data is critical to ensuring which customers need how much effort to be pulled back to a positive perception of your brand and ensuring account and revenue continuity. In other words, CES gives you an action plan on customer prioritization, where your team will need to deliver high on customers with low CES scores.

Uncover hidden issues:

There is a great saying on work culture – ‘happy employees result in happy customers’. So if the CES metric shows that your customer success team is not able to adequately, a deeper investigation often reveals underlying issues of inadequacies within the team – be it technological gaps, the employee will and morale, lack of product knowledge, ineffective training, etc.

Faster damage control:

When it comes to customers – speed and effectiveness come first. Modern CES survey software can be easily configured through API calls to alert your customer-facing teams when a negative CES survey response is selected by a customer. The assigned representative of the account can now immediately prioritize this account and reach out to the customer to probe what went wrong and how it can be fixed to ease of the customer.

Better customer relationship management:

Customer crisis management is a big part CRM process and strategic CES implementation tells you exactly when the crisis happened, for which customer and after speaking to which representative. From a crisis management perspective, this is a great head-start to ensure client continuity.

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