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Customer Experience

The Value of Measuring Customer Effort

How Reducing Customer Effort Can Have A Dramatic Impact on Revenue, Loyalty, and CSAT

If you’re looking to make improvements to your CX program, you’ve probably found lots of articles online about how to deliver exceptional customer service. And while that can be a valuable goal, have you thought about how consistently you’re meeting basic customer expectations?

For service organizations, time and energy are your customers’ most important currencies. Sure, it’s great to have friendly agents and an experience that surprises and delights. But if the process involves navigating four different phone paths and waiting 35 minutes to talk to someone, that’s a problem.

Companies that really excel at driving customer loyalty focus on nailing the basics first: making customer service as quick and easy as possible—every time. Measuring customer effort is a valuable exercise for understanding how well you’re doing that.

What is Customer Effort Score?

Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how easy it is for customers to interact with your brand and get resolutions to their requests. You can measure CES by asking one question after every customer interaction: how easy was the experience? Customers score their response on a defined scale, giving you valuable data about their journey.

Whether they used live chat to track a package or accessed a digital manual for their new vehicle, measuring CES at pivotal moments in the journey helps service leaders identify friction and understand where they can improve the experience.

“People think of loyalty as a customer for a lifetime, but it’s really much simpler than that. It’s about the next time, every time.” – Shep Hyken

Why focus on effort? Because the less effort a customer has to make while interacting with your brand, the better. According to Gartner, low-effort experiences build loyalty and high-effort ones push customers away. 96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience.

But I measure CSAT—isn’t that the same?

If you’re only measuring your Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score, you’re only getting part of the picture. While CSAT measures how customers feel, in general, about a product or brand, CES measures specific moments of friction or success in the customer journey. CSAT gives you the emotional side of the experience, while CES sheds light on the process.

CES and CSAT scores work best as performance metrics when they’re measured together. Having a line of sight on both the overall brand perception and specific actionable breakdowns in the customer journey gives you a truer picture of where your business actually stands with customers.

When to measure CES

CES surveys only make sense at certain moments in the customer journey because they ask customers to rate the amount of effort it took to complete an activity or transaction.

The best time to survey customers about CES is right after an interaction with your brand, while the experience is fresh in their minds. This could be:

  • After they make a purchase – This timing helps you understand how much effort was required to reach this point in the journey and identify obstacles that might be standing in the way of purchase.
  • After they interact with customer service – Collecting feedback right after a live chat or phone call, for example, provides insight into how easy (or challenging) it was for customers to get a resolution to their issue by channel.

customer effort

Benefits of a low-effort experience

On top of improving customer loyalty, Gartner says brands that reduce customer effort can realize these key benefits:

  • Reduce costs: Low effort is beneficial for both customers and the business. On average, low-effort interactions cost 37% less than high-effort ones.
  • Improve Net Promoter Score (NPS): Top-performing companies with low-effort experiences score 65 points higher on NPS than high-effort companies.
  • Increase purchase rates: Only 4% of customers experiencing high effort plan to repurchase, while 94% of customers who experienced low effort intend to repurchase.
  • Retain talent: When the system is set up to help service reps and customers succeed, employees have better work experiences, which makes them 17% more likely to stay.

Make it easy—especially during the bad times

Often, when customers submit a request for help, they’re already experiencing frustration, confusion, or other challenges related to your brand, product, or service. The last thing they need is friction-filled customer service on top of that.

Measuring customer effort is the first step to eliminating pain points and easing the whole journey, so you can create happier and more loyal customers.


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