What's your customer effort score?



The Customer Effort Score is a customer service experience metric that accounts for the ease of handling customer interactions and resolution during a service request. Our research indicates effort is the best transactional loyalty metric for the customer service organization, serving as an excellent leading and lagging indicator of customer intent to repurchase and increase spend, as well as actual word of mouth.




Question Wording

The official wording of the question is, “[The company] made it easy for me to handle my [request].” The words in brackets are meant to denote where there is flexibility in wording. For obvious reasons, “the company” would be dynamic for each individual business. As for “request,” while that is our most generalized version of how to denote a service interaction, it’s reasonable to use more specific and relevant words to characterize what a “request” means within the context of your business. For some in traditional break/fix organizations, the word “issue” might be the best fit. You could be even more specific by having the phrase dynamically adapt to the contact type, such as having customers rate the ease of handling their “order inquiry.” Ultimately, the goal of the question is to understand the degree to which the company makes handling customer interactions easy, so its application to contact types is interchangeable.



The standard scale we use in our analysis is a 7-pt Likert scale, which asks respondents to rate how much they agree or disagree with the CES statement. While the scale can in some cases be flexible so that it aligns to your company’s existing surveys, we recommend keeping it as an odd number of options, as we see key differences in impact of respondents above the neutral/middle option. For example, using a 5-pt scale provides for a similar distribution of values for those who agree that the company made handling their request easy.



To calculate CES, you simply add together all respondents who rated some degree of agreement (Somewhat Agree, Agree, and Strongly Agree) to the CES statement and then divide that number from the total number of respondents. For example, if you have 100 respondents, with 30 rating between 1 (Strongly Disagree) and 4 (Neither Agree nor Disagree), while 70 rate between 5 (Somewhat Agree) and 7 (Strongly Agree), then you’d have a CES value of 70% (70/100).

Research Background


Our use of frequencies in the CES calculation, rather than taking a straight average of respondent scores, is rooted in what we discovered when analyzing each response category. When comparing to loyalty and the spread of word of mouth, individual CES scores showed that higher performance impact gains actually slowed once the customer “somewhat agreed” that the company made it easy. Essentially, companies have much more to gain by moving customers from the levels between “Strongly Disagree (1)” and “Somewhat Agree (5)” than by moving a customer from “Agree (6)” to “Strongly Agree (7)”. Simply put, once a customer has any agreement that the company made it easy, that specific level of agreement is not very meaningful, so the company should instead focus on customers who don’t agree, whether in active disagreement or neutral territory.


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