What’s Your Customer Effort Score?

Reduce customer effort in service interactions to build customer loyalty in your service organization.

Customer service and support leaders often find themselves squeezed between a rock and a hard place. Customers demand a quick and easy resolution when they contact the service organization. At the same time, service leaders face internal pressure to differentiate the company through the service they provide and build customer loyalty. The catch: Service leaders are asked to do more with the same or fewer resources.

Effort is the strongest driver to customer loyalty

Service organizations should strive to be low effort because effort is the driver with the strongest tie to customer loyalty. To help you determine if your organization is high or low effort, CEB, now Gartner, created the Customer Effort Score (CES), a customer experience survey metric that enables service organizations to account for the ease of customer interaction and resolution during a request. By tracking CES (and what drives it), organizations can make the improvements that improve the customer experience.

“If you can only measure one thing, it should be effort,” says Sarah Dibble, executive advisor at Gartner. “Our research finds that effort is the strongest driver to customer loyalty.”

Why efforts matters

Indicators of “high-effort” experiences include channel switching, repetition of information, generic service, transfers, and repeat interaction. 96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience. Disloyal customers are likely to cost the company more — they spread negative word of mouth and cease future purchases.

By reducing customer effort, service organizations can deliver higher-quality interactions and lower costs. The benefits are many:

  • Positive word of mouth improves. The Net Promoter Score (NPS), a widely used service metric, is 65 points higher for top-performing low-effort companies than for high-effort companies.
  • Repurchase rates increase. Ninety-four percent of customers with low-effort interactions intend to repurchase compared with 4% of those experiencing high effort.
  • Costs decline. Low-effort experiences reduce costs by decreasing up to 40% of repeat calls, 50% of escalations and 54% of channel switching. Overall, a low-effort interaction costs 37% less than a high-effort interaction.
  • Employee retention rises. When service reps can provide better experiences to customers they feel better about their jobs, and their intent to stay increases up to 17%.

“It turns out, the service organization’s priorities of quality and efficiency aren’t mutually exclusive,” says Dibble.

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How to measure effort

CES is measured by asking a single question and scoring the response on a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of disagreement with the statement.

Gartner: The Customer Effort Score Question

To calculate CES, organizations add the total number of respondents who at least somewhat agree with that statement (those who give a 5 or above) and then divide by total number of respondents surveyed. This threshold was set because the difference in the degree of loyalty of customers who give a 5 or above is basically identical and there’s a much bigger opportunity to build loyalty if customers can move out of active disagreement or neutral territory.

Customer service organizations can use CES, along with operational measurements such as repeat calls, transfers and channel switching, to uncover high-effort pain points in customer interactions.

Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leader clients can read more about Customer Effort Score.