Your contact center has a vested interest in making the customer experience as smooth as possible. After all, customers want their interactions with your agents to be smooth and without friction.
A key performance indicator (KPI) and strategic metric for any business is the Customer Effort Score (CES). It’s one of the significant drivers of brand loyalty because satisfied customers are more likely to make repeat purchases or talk to your customer service.
- The Customer Effort Score measures the customer journey’s efficiency.
- The calculation of the CES is a clear formula but can vary widely from one business to another
- The CES is significantly more predictive of future purchase intent than other KPIs
- Building a proactive call center is a must for improving your CES
What is the Customer Effort Score (CES)?
The Customer Effort Score is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that measures the customer journey’s efficiency. Simply put, you need to ask customers to rank the usability of products and services on a scale ranging from “very difficult” to “very simple.”
A low score indicates friction in the customer journey. In contrast, a high score indicates that the consumer’s needs were met.
The CES is applicable at numerous stages of the customer lifecycle, and it can answer the following questions:
- How much work did the customer exert to locate the merchandise or pay the bill?
- Concerning customer service, did the customers have trouble contacting an adviser or acquiring the needed information?
- During the use of the product or service, did the client struggle to comprehend how it operates?
How can the Customer Effort Score be measured?
(Total sum of responses) ÷ (Number of responses) = Customer effort score
The calculation of the CES is a clear formula and a subject of heated debate among call center experts:
When asked, “How much effort did you have to make to reach our customer service?” customers respond with a number, let’s say, between 1 (no effort) and 7 (more effort) (a lot of effort). Then, simply calculate the average to determine your CES score.
If you achieved a total score of 40 out of 85 possible points, your CES score is 2.12 (85/40 = 2.12).
If you set up a 1 to 7 scale system, the reading grid looks like this:
- Scores of 1 and 2 indicate modest effort;
- Scores of 3 and 4 indicate moderate effort;
- Scores 5, 6, and 7 indicate great effort.
Similar to the NPS – Net Promoter Score, the CES is calculated by aggregating the proportion of low scores (sum of scores 1 or 2) and then subtracting the proportion of high scores (sum of scores 5, 6, or 7).
What are the other methods for measuring the CES?
To encourage customers to complete interactions with agents, call centers can devise alternative methods for calculating the CES.
Contact Centers can offer a broader range of scores to refine responders’ comments, such as emojis replacing scores. Less often, they directly transform scores into the accompanying remarks; (Very Difficult; Difficult; Neither easy nor difficult; Easy; Very Easy).
Advantages of low customer effort scores
- Less bad reviews: today’s consumers may quickly and efficiently decide based on what they read. However, poor reviews drive away potential customers. And if your customer service is subpar, you can expect to see plenty of nasty comments posted about your business online.
- Focus on the effort: One of the critical benefits of this signal is that it puts the spotlight on the client and the amount of work he had to put out. The client does not rate the performance of those with whom he has interacted. Consumer Loyalty Intention is more strongly correlated with the CES.
- Objective view: CES data is objective because they are based on measuring effort. Because it disregards consumers’ feelings, it provides a foundation for complex data.
Why is the Consumer Effort Score (CES) significant for your Contact center?
The CES is significantly more predictive of future purchase intent than The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) or the NPS (Net Promoter Score).
This is why the concept of customer effort may be of importance to contact centers. In many situations, “satisfaction” is only possible if the required effort is little (for instance, a sample supplied at the moment of purchase will satisfy the consumer). However, the effect will only disappear if the checkout is sufficiently long.
As mentioned before, it could be interesting to utilize an open-ended question to elicit more specific feedback from customers who believe that a particular phase of the process demands considerable effort. This could aid in identifying the obstacles to make this step more realistic.
The CES score is useless on its own. In other words, both excellent and negative scores exist.
However, the score you receive will allow you to identify trends at various customer journey stages. This will highlight the areas that require attention. This is where the open-ended question comes into play, as it allows you to fix your company’s errors.
Moreover, the CES allows you to prioritize emergencies. Consequently, the most critical phases are those with a score of 4 or 5. Therefore, it is essential to focus on these before improving the stages with a score of 2 or 3.
For the CES to be effective, regular evaluations must be conducted.
How can your Customer Effort Score be improved?
Build a proactive contact center
Instead of responding to a crisis, contact centers must develop a proactive approach to their customer service. They must be able to give clients what they require before the customers even know they have a need. Preventive customer service involves anticipating and streamlining client interactions as much as possible.
If a company provides a product or service that is likely to inspire a call to customer service for instructions on how to use it or if the consumer is expected to return to the brand’s website for additional instructions, the said company should provide those details or instructions proactively.
Analyze customer feedback
Obtaining genuine feedback is always a challenge, but brands have numerous options. For example, one may mention listening on social networks, online surveys, online communities, reward-motivated customer feedback, and just requesting feedback at various stages throughout the customer journey (after a customer abandons their cart, for example).
Brands can acquire actionable information by carefully listening to what customers say in these comments. This will streamline the purchasing experience and eliminate any potential customer friction points that future customers are likely to encounter.
Offer self-service alternatives
A brand simplifies interactions and reduces customer effort by providing customers with self-service solutions. Typical self-service alternatives offered by brands include the following:
- Live chat: Customers who prefer not to make phone calls can chat with an agent to get answers to their questions. This direct communication channel allows agents to copy and paste answers from a script or FAQ page to provide quick and specific solutions to customers’ problems.
You can manage all communication channels in a single tool that provides comprehensive customer data and history. NobelBiz OMNI+ is a comprehensive cloud-based contact center software with a comprehensive toolbox of features, functions, and integrations designed to handle the operations of any contact center.
- FAQs: Companies must include responses to the most frequently asked client questions, such as shipping, payments, and returns. As customer support representatives get recurrent requests, they should be regularly updated.
- Knowledge Base: A knowledge base should be easily available and include self-help articles, documentation, and references.
CES vs. NPS
The two biggest KPIs that reflect customer satisfaction, CES and NPS, are not mutually independent. In fact, when a client reviews the effort using the CES, you can find the areas that need improvement to make the experience more seamless. Ultimately, the process resembles the Net Promoter Score, which rates the ease of consumer engagement at various phases.
The Net Promoter Score or NPS is used to determine the percentage of your customers who are detractors and promoters. This can positively or negatively affect your brand’s image, mainly through customer reviews and social media posts.
Consequently, both indicators are necessary to implement an efficient marketing strategy. The CES will enable you to enhance the customer experience, while the NPS will allow you to improve your brand’s reputation. In any case, these KPIs serve as decision-making tools that enable the implementation of corrective actions.
The skills and competencies of your call center agents should be the priority for providing a higher customer satisfaction level. This will encompass the proper process and the right technology when you’re designing your methodology. Listen to Colin Taylor, CEO & CCO at The Taylor Reach Group, on the Tools that ensure higher customer satisfaction.
Conclusion: Remember all KPIs must work together
All your KPIs must be combined to assess your call center’s quality comprehensively. In addition, you should be aware that a poor CES directly affects the NPS: a customer who had problems receiving a response from the customer service department will soon slip into the category of critics and will not renew his purchase! Of course, the opposite is equally valid.
The CES is also strongly related to the First Contact Resolution (FCR). If your first contact resolution rate is low, the consumer must contact customer care multiple times before receiving a satisfactory response. Therefore, customer effort is consequently at its peak.