What Is a Good Customer Effort Score and How Can You Earn One? The Complete Guide

Want to achieve a good Customer Effort Score - here's how to go about it.

How can a company achieve a good Customer Effort Score? Well, let’s look at things from the consumer’s perspective.

Kevin and Beth are planning their honeymoon to Hawaii and need to choose a travel insurance provider. They call Company A and wait on hold for seven minutes before speaking with a customer service representative.

They explain the reason for their call and are transferred to the appropriate department (on hold for another four minutes). The agent asks a series of questions, including dates of travel, destination, dates of birth and some health-related details.

The agent provides several options for Kevin and Beth, which they jot down in order to discuss later that day. In their discussion, they have a question about a deductible, so they call back but are required to repeat the entire process.

Out of frustration, Kevin and Beth contact Company B. Their IVR-directed call is answered by a customer service representative in under three minutes. The agent asks for basic health information and requests copies of their e-ticket and passport, explaining that they will gather the data they need from the documentation, with no further questions necessary.

The representative emails them their options. Later, when they have a question about a deductible, they contact the same agent directly and get the answer they need without having to repeat any details.

Which company do you think Kevin and Beth chose to do business with? Which company will they choose for their next trip?

The main reason why Company B just gained a loyal customer is because they earned a good customer effort score.

What is CES?

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a customer experience metric that measures how much effort a consumer must exert during an interaction with a company. It is most often measured by asking a single question: rate how much effort was required to get a specific issue or request resolved.

To calculate CES, organizations divide the sum of all individual customer effort scores by the number of customers who responded. The more people who “Strongly Agree” that the company made the experience easy for them, the higher the CES.

Why is reducing customer effort important?

According to Gartner, organizations should strive to deliver experiences that are low effort because effort is the driver with the strongest tie to customer loyalty. Research has shown that 96% of customers who experience a high-effort interaction become more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience.

High-effort interactions include the need to repeat information, interact a second time, experience ‘generic’ service, a lack of self-service, or the need to exert additional mental effort to have an issue resolved. By tracking CES, businesses can make the necessary improvements to enhance the customer experience.

Benefits of a high CES

More positive word-of-mouth

Low effort means a higher likelihood of a customer referral, with the Harvard Business Review reporting that 81% of customers who experience a high-effort interaction say they would speak negatively about the company to others.  Gartner research shows that top-performing low-effort companies tend to have an NPS that is 65 points higher than top-performing high-effort businesses, further linking a good customer effort score with customer loyalty.

Higher repurchase rates

Low effort is a strong predictor of future buying behavior. According to the HBR study, 94% of customers reporting low effort said they would repurchase, and 88% said they would even increase their spending. Gartner reports identical findings, highlighting that 94% of customers with low-effort interactions intend to repurchase compared with 4% of those experiencing high effort.

Lower overall support costs

When repeat calls decline and escalations become unnecessary, cost to serve is greatly reduced. In fact, Gartner reports that a low-effort interaction costs 37% less than a high-effort interaction.

Better employee retention

With the high costs of employee turnover – as much as 2.5 times an employee’s salary depending on the role – it makes sense to take steps to reduce attrition. When agents are empowered to deliver a better customer experience, they feel better about their jobs, and their intent to remain increases by up to 17%.

How to earn a good Customer Effort Score

Companies achieve good customer effort scores when they find ways to streamline the customer experience, eliminating any processes that waste a customer’s time or create duplicate work. Technologies that have been proven to raise CES include:

Interactive voice response (IVR) – this widely used technology enables a customer to interact with the company’s computer system through the use of speech recognition and their phone keypad. IVR instructs customers on how to proceed, directs queries to the proper departments and reduces hold times.

Self-service allows customers to help themselves at the times most convenient to them. Self-service channels can include an automated chat functionality for quick issue resolution or a regularly updated knowledge base with FAQs, each reducing call volumes and increasing efficiencies.

Visual assistance allows an agent to view a customer’s issue via their smart phone camera or by sharing their smart phone screen. This enables the agent to easily diagnose the problem and visually guide the customer towards a solution. Visual assistance eliminates the long lists of questions and answers that agents traditionally used to get to the root of a problem.

When visual assistance is combined with self-service, it represents the best of both worlds and this approach is rapidly emerging as the next big thing in the CX domain.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of visual assistance and the large-scale impact it can have on improving CES.

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