Is it hard to be your customer?


The Customer Effort Score (CES) is rapidly gaining popularity as a way to measure customer experience. While both the Net Promoter Score and Customer Satisfaction Score metrics measures the overall customer experience, one thing it doesn’t do is focus on whether or not your customers have to make an effort to deal with your company. The CES does just this – it asks one single question to determine whether there are any obstacles standing in your customers’ path.


The CES asks one simple question

That’s not to say that one method is better than the other – or that you should only choose one metric to measure your company’s performance in the eyes of the customer. But if you’d like to uncover exactly what obstacles are getting in the way, the CES is the perfect metric. For example, a CES can reveal these pitfalls in a customer’s journey with a call centre:

  • Too many transfers within a call centre
  • A complex IVR system with too many choices
  • Having to call in multiple times to resolve a problem
  • Complicated instructions
  • Not being able to transact using a preferred channel of communication

This is where the CES shines, because when customers have to expend more effort than they think they should have to, they leave. In other words, high effort will result in low customer loyalty.

The CES was initiated by US research and advisory firm Corporate Executive Board (, which began its research on CES in 2008. They found that customer service emerged as the competitive differentiator as products became more commoditised. The Corporate Executive Board conducted a large scale study of contact centre interactions. The research concluded that what customers really want is simply a satisfactory solution to the service issue rather than to be “delighted” by over-the-top customer service experiences, as previous measurements assumed.

Once you know whether your customers find it easy (or not) to deal with your company, you can refine the processes that need refining and continue to improve the processes that minimise the amount of effort required on the part of your customers.

Is CES the be all and end all?

Does CES compare to NPS and CSAT? Should it be used as a standalone measurement tool? Whether you are looking at loyalty, satisfaction or effort, your ultimate goal is to build customer relationships. In truth, there is no single measurement or question that can capture the full customer experience, most often a combination is needed. So there’s no need to select one over another, and all three can be used at different times and for different reasons (just make sure you don’t push your customers over the edge with death by survey).

Every business is different and you first need to identify what feedback will be appropriated for your specific business. CES make be valuable if you have multiple touchpoints, or if your customers require more than one product or service from you. More importantly though, the value is not in conducting a CES survey, the value is in taking action based on the insights that you find.

You can read more about CES here.

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