What is Customer Effort Score (CES)?

Customer effort score (CES) is a measurement of how much work a customer had to put into a recent interaction with a business. In other words, how easy or difficult it is to do business with an organization. In the context of customer service, the CES measures the amount of effort a customer had to expend to get an issue resolved or a question answered. Things like being transferred to multiple agents, having to repeat information and having to switch channels will increase effort and therefore likely lower a business's CES.

Customer effort score (CES) is a relatively new measurement - less than ten-years-old. It was popularized by the 2010 HBR article "Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers," in which the authors presented research results that show ease of effort is a much better indicator of loyalty than over-the-top service. Frills are nice, but making things easy is better. Not only does a high CES predict loyalty, but it's also a strong predictor of future purchasing behavior, as well as of the likelihood to recommend a business to friends and family.

However, CES isn't a silver bullet of measurements. It typically measures a single service interaction. Therefore, customers may have one atypically bad experience, but still love the business. Because of this shortcoming, customer effort scores need to be used in conjunction with other metrics, such as customer satisfaction and Net Promoter scores, to get a more holistic view of what customers think and feel about an organization.

A customer effort score (CES) is acquired by asking customers one simple question, typically something like, "To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: The company made it easy for me to solve my problem." (Source: Gartner) Customers rate the question on a seven point scale, with 7 being Strongly Agree and 1 being Strongly Disagree. The best time to ask this question is immediately following a contact center interaction. Contact center software can automatically pose the question to callers or send a survey via email, making the calculation of a customer effort score (CES) very easy.

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NICE CXone is the industry’s only interaction-centric platform where channels, data, applications, and knowledge converge to improve customer experience at scale.

It is the leading, most complete and unified CX Platform on the market, used by thousands of organizations of all sizes around the world to help them consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences. CXone is a cloud native, unified suite of applications designed to help you holistically run your call (or contact) center operations.

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